Monday, February 20, 2012

The Dilemma of Naming Documents When Your WIP Lacks A Title

I really, really suck at coming up with titles for my stories. Which is a problem when it comes to naming documents. I usually end up being too lazy to come up with good document names, so they're left with names that aren't helpful in the least in telling me what the document actually contains.

Let's take a look at the statistics, shall we? (Oh and just a  note, I don't actually have that many completed drafts of stuff... most of the documents are filled with a few paragraphs or sentences of half-baked ideas).

Number of documents that are named with a really terrible summary of the story e.g. "Cranberry Story": 18

Number of documents named with the first line of story e.g. "I wake up to tent fabric": 9

Number of documents named after a random character (or main character) in the story e.g. "Dudley": 18

Number of documents named with a summary that actually effectively summarizes: 1

Number of documents named with names that give no information whatsoever e.g. "Life" or "rename later" (and "rename later"s document name still hasn't changed since 2009): 6

Number of documents named with something that resembles an actual title: 12

And that's just one folder. I haven't even gotten to my Short Stories folder yet...

My wonderfully named documents in my short story file...

I am so good at naming documents, aren't I? I mean, obviously I know exactly what the documents "short story" and "random short piece" are. I also evidently get kind of crazy after naming multiple drafts of something...

How do you go about naming your documents when you don't have a title yet? How do you come up with titles for your WIPs?

In other news... I finished the first draft of my current WIP yesterday!!


  1. I tend to come up with some kind of title then change it as I go along in the writing process.

  2. When I’m writing on a specific subject I tend to use the “Title” or an abbreviation of my story and add a number at the end that kind of relate to the chapters. e.g. LVDM-c1 stand for “La vallée de Myst - chapter #1”. But if I want to write about something related to that story but is off record, I write them all in a document name with the title + notes, ideas or lexicon e.g. “CDA-Notes” or “LVDM-Lexicon” etc. Otherwise I think I would spread too much and loose my mind, the track and my interest in my project. Oh! And I use the “labels” of Blogger to organize my multiple draft.

  3. Mine is just named New story for now. I have the same problem and you can see, my solution is not very good.

  4. Wow, congrats! Finishing a first draft is a pretty massive accomplishment :)

    I love this post. My writing folder is pretty much the same :)

  5. "The Book" is probably my favorite. :]

    I feel your pain. Finding a title is really hard and frustrating, which is why I let my titles come to me. It's kind of like when you're working on a story and you have no idea what the heck is going to happen next but dammit! you're going to sit down and write. What usually happens is you sit down to start writing and you pick up where you left off and at some point during the writing the next scene becomes crystal clear in your head.

    For me, finding a title is like that. I hardly ever know what my book will be called before I begin writing the book. I'm usually in the second or third draft before the title makes an appearance. The more you know about a story, the better the title will be.

    My advice to you is to take a deep breath and relax. When your book is ready for a name, trust me, you'll get one.

    In the meantime, what I do is use my main character's name as a document title (ex: "Sarah's Story") or I sum up the first scene with one or a few words and use that as a doc title (ex: "The Meeting" or "The Party").

    Also, so I don't confuse myself, I give each book it's own folder.

    I hope that helps you.

  6. Congratulations!!! That's awesome!!! Treat yourself to chocolate.

    As for document naming, I have a bunch titled with my name -- Laura Wise, LauraWise, Laura Wise[1], etc. -- because when I don't know what to title a short story or a poem, I just head it with my name instead. I also name by genre, and often by number: "Horror story 2," for instance. Or, even more unhelpfully, just "story1."

    My names often include my opinion of the doc in question. There are such gems as "really bad sonnet," "more stupid poetry," "stupidpoetyr," "grrr," and "ineedsleep."


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