Naming a work of Fiction – WTF do I call it?!

This is a guest post by Jessica Harpley..
Have you ever started a project under a temporary name, and then as things keep progressing along, you’re really not sure what to call it? The further into the project you get, the more the name starts sticking to it like some needy significant other. It’s not right for the project, but your project has been with that name for so long that it’s gotten comfortable with it. It’s settled.
Stop! Don’t settle for a sticky, needy, insufficient name. I did, and I’m fairly upset about it, but it’s too late now! My book that has yet to be published is smack in the middle of the same issue. It’s had this name for six years! When I went online and searched that name, I got a bunch of werewolf erotica… Nope. I’m not sticking my epic science fiction trilogy next to your steamy dog porn, thank you very much (not that there’s anything at all wrong with werewolf erotica or any kind of erotica, in fact I’m quite partial to a bit of every now and then).
Let’s get into why we’re here. I’m going to run through one of exercises I’m using to find my book a new name. Hopefully it will be useful to you, or at least entertaining.
Synopsis – My Nemesis
If you’re like me, you don’t like trying to summarize your work of art into a few pages, let alone a few words. But herein lies the salvation to your trying times. Write out the basic premise of your work, and keep refining it, smaller and smaller until you’re left with a very basic concept. From there, you can begin generating many names. Let me run through the exercise in a hypothetical scenario:
Set in ancient times, Klatus is a wealthy man who loses everything to gambling. Destitute in the streets, he seeks to make a deal with a demon to regain his former glory. But Klatus doesn’t know the contract damns more than just his eternal soul. He fights for survival now in a city overrun with horrors beyond the nightmares of the unsuspecting townsfolk. Will he become the hero they so desperately need, and condemn himself to eons of torment?
Huh… I should probably write that story. So we have, Klatus the potential hero, ancient times, gambling, devils, acts of heroism, and nightmarish battles. Taking just these things we know, we can start writing down some words:


Sweet! We have words there. Using Klatus, here are a few of the combinations that really stuck out to me as catchy:
? Klatus’ Ante
? Redemption of the Gambler
? The Devil’s Deal (yay for alliteration!)
? Wager of Salvation
Anyway, so there you have it. Grid out some words, start smacking them together. Be sure to keep a running list of the words you know you don’t want in your title. For example, if you’re not writing a romance, I would suggest keeping the word “secret” out of the name. There is a surprising number of sexytime books with that word.

If you like what you saw here, or I entertained you in some way, please check out my debut novella – The Mill – (dang that sticky, needy name to hell). It’s available for digital preorder right now, and paperbacks go on sale October 15th: If you’re not interested in buying my work (soon-to-be works) of fiction and just like reading my ramblings, you can check me out at I’d like to thank Amber Gregg for giving me the opportunity to take over her blog for a post! It’s always so flattering to be invited to share my knowledge/wisdom/insanity with the likes of other humans.

Do you agree? Disagree?