Thursday, July 26, 2012

The Writer Will Take Your Questions Now (#192) -- Titles and Timelines

At what point in the process do you usually title your stories? And what's your philosophy for titling?

I'm an odd writer in that I usually have my title set in stone (or at least soft concrete that's firming up quickly) before I ever write my first word of a story. For me the title drives the tale. The title can come from a  mental image that spawned the story in the first place, a quote that triggered the telling, or from a line of narration or dialog that's always waiting for its place in the text of the tale. But it's usually there.

Occasionally, and this is quite rare, will the story dictate to me a new title. This happened recently in my story for the Armless O'Neil volume published by Pro Se Press/Pulp Obscura. It was originally titled "From the Liquor to the Lady," but by the time I had finished writing of O'Neil's frustration at his "sidekick" Tommy's eye for the ladies and how it always causes him to make poor decisions that lead to dangerous adventures, the story made me change to title to the final one: "There's Always a Woman Involved."

But as I mentioned earlier, that's rare.