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#1 Ken White

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Posted 06 March 2013 - 04:46 PM

As I'm about to start the as-yet untitled 10th and final episode of Lincolnshire Poacher season one, I thought I'd see how other people do their titles.

I've done it a couple of ways - each part of Redemption, for example, has a song title for the part. Last Rites has one phrase of the traditional Catholic blessing (in Latin) as the titles for the four parts. Standalone titles have been all over the map, basically whatever occurred to me at the time.

And such is the case with the Poacher project - in some episodes I've already had a title when I started writing, in others the title has come within the first couple of pages. I'm not even 100% happy with a couple of the titles, but I'm 90% and that's close enough. I mean, it's just the title, right?

But how important is that title? In a standalone, I'd guess it's pretty damn important - if the title "sounds" like something you'd be interested in, you might be willing to give it a watch or listen, even if you don't know the writer/director or his/her work. If the title is uninteresting or unappealing, you might skip it.

What about in a series, like the Poacher? If you're a "fan" of Enigma or CAD Valhalla or Cerebus The Aardvark, does it matter what the episode title is? Or will you automatically watch or listen because you like the project, and the title is just....words?

So how important are titles? How do you come up with them? When do you come up with them? Do you agonize about the right title before you even write the first word?

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#2 thebiz

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Posted 07 March 2013 - 01:28 PM

I do things largely in sequential order so titles usually come after the idea and before the actual writing. They help me define and shape the idea is big broad strokes.

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#3 Ken White

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Posted 07 March 2013 - 03:46 PM

I do things largely in sequential order so titles usually come after the idea and before the actual writing. They help me define and shape the idea is big broad strokes.

So if you have an idea - let's say a fairly fleshed-out one rather than a "guy robs a bank" kind of thing - you'll sit on it until you have a title? Work on it, as we all do, in your head, but not start banging it out?

Hmmm. Like everybody, I have ideas (or maybe concepts is a better term) for stories - maybe an opening scene or a chunk of dialogue or a character - but without narrative cohesion and an imminent plan or even desire to explore the idea more fully, I haven't considered a title because they may or may not ever go beyond concept.

But when I decide I am going to write the script, then the need for a title starts to loom over the project - I'll start writing and call the file and directory "Untitled" until a title occurs to me, as I did with Episode 10 of Poacher. Right after posting yesterday, I decided on "The Enemy of My Enemy" - this morning, I wondered about the actual origin of that phrase, "The enemy of my enemy is my friend" and so went hunting to find where it came from. It turns out it's an Arab proverb. And also a Chinese proverb. But no citations beyond that - so is it something from the Quran? Or just something wise Arabs say? Is it something Sun Tzu tossed out between the twice-cooked pork and the lo mein, or is it in The Art of War?

In the end it didn't matter, because I happened upon a quote from Exodus (the book of the Bible, not the Leon Uris blockbuster novel) while researching - "I will be an enemy to your enemies and will oppose those who oppose you.", and so have settled on "Enemy To Your Enemies" as the title - it's very close to the original title, says the same thing, but I'm somehow happier with the new one.

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#4 Johnny Ex

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Posted 07 March 2013 - 06:02 PM

Poignant topics for me right now.
Being a series guy, and a comic book style one at that, I'm not sure if I'll ever agree in my head how the titleing should go.
Im all over the place right now with what my current project is actually going to be called.
Certainly too many choices though.
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#5 Carver

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Posted 07 March 2013 - 11:17 PM

As I'm about to start the as-yet untitled 10th and final episode of Lincolnshire Poacher season one, I thought I'd see how other people do their titles.

I've done it a couple of ways - each part of Redemption, for example, has a song title for the part. Last Rites has one phrase of the traditional Catholic blessing (in Latin) as the titles for the four parts. Standalone titles have been all over the map, basically whatever occurred to me at the time.

And such is the case with the Poacher project - in some episodes I've already had a title when I started writing, in others the title has come within the first couple of pages. I'm not even 100% happy with a couple of the titles, but I'm 90% and that's close enough. I mean, it's just the title, right?

But how important is that title? In a standalone, I'd guess it's pretty damn important - if the title "sounds" like something you'd be interested in, you might be willing to give it a watch or listen, even if you don't know the writer/director or his/her work. If the title is uninteresting or unappealing, you might skip it.

What about in a series, like the Poacher? If you're a "fan" of Enigma or CAD Valhalla or Cerebus The Aardvark, does it matter what the episode title is? Or will you automatically watch or listen because you like the project, and the title is just....words?

So how important are titles? How do you come up with them? When do you come up with them? Do you agonize about the right title before you even write the first word?


My process for writing a story is first the idea. Once I have a basic concept I get to writing and let the title come in later. I'll write down a few working titles and see where I want to go with it. My titles mostly come when I'm well into the story, maybe halfway through. I'll admit that coming up with a title is a little difficult for me because I don't want it to sound generic. I want a title that will grab people's attention. On some of my recent stories the titles have come from songs. When I want to come up with an original title then I make sure it has some reference to the story.

When it comes to episode titles in a series I like it because it has some type of reference to episode. Since season one, I've been fond of the episode titles for The Walking Dead. By the end of the episode the title makes sense, but regardless of what the episode title is I'll watch it because I like the series.

#6 rposhard

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Posted 12 March 2013 - 05:36 AM

I don't agonize over titles too much. I always have a working title for any project I do, and 75% of the time it sticks (or some variation of it will , e.g. "The Legend of Latin Seymour" was originally titled "Latin Seymour"). Titles occur to me all the time and I actually thought at one point of starting a thread just posting title ideas for anybody who wanted one. (Anybody up for "The Minotaur and His Wife"?) I find that putting a title on a piece -- even one you are fairly certain will change somewhere along the line -- acts as a focus for your piece. Because it acts as a focal point, I find it tends to stick -- but there are also times when I'll throw a title out because something will flow into my brain as I'm writing that will make me sit up and say "Wow -- that's so much better." (Case in point: a recent short story I wrote called "The Warrior and the Wizards". When I finished I suddenly didn't like the title because it was too literal. The story was pretty rough and straightforward, but I wanted something in the title that would give it some lilt. When I re-read the story, I zeroed in on the fact that the entire story took place inside an inn called The Golden Dragon, and the story became "Beneath the Sign of the Golden Dragon".)

Personally, I love titles. I love coming up with them. Sometimes the title will actually become the inspiration for my project. A few years back, I was watching a Danny Kaye movie called "The Kid from Brooklyn". Funny movie, but after it was over I started thinking that there were funnier city names they could have used in the title, like Sheboygan or Poughkeepsie or even.....And "The Man from Schenectady" was born.
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#7 MalletPropStudios

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Posted 03 April 2013 - 03:39 AM

I seriously agonize over titles on stand-alones. On a series, I probably wouldn't too much. Just something to help me identify what the story line is without giving away much plot.

In my movie "Destiny's Keeper", the original title was "Incubus". The definition "a nightmarish burden" fit perfectly. Then I heard about ChatNoir's upcoming movie of the same name. I knew better than to keep the title. Theirs would have been known as the "good" Incubus, and mine would have been the "other" Incubus. After switching to "Destiny's Keeper" as the title, it began to hold a lot of meaning for me while working on the project. Now, in retrospect, I can't even grasp the full meaning that was in my head.

In my sitcom "Stay the Course", I just called it "Pilot". However, the real title of the episode was "A More Perfect Union". I chose it mostly because it sounded good, and left it out because it made the whole title too damn long.

In my next movie, I agonized over the title for two weeks. Nothing hinted at the theme as well as sounded like a good title. The title I chose is "An Oblivion Prolonged". Choosing the title has made me change some of the movie (in the outlining stage). I tend to see movie plots as spheres, and the better the plot fits together the more perfectly spherical it feels. The title really helps me focus the theme, which makes my movie more spherical.

I can't be satisfied with an outline until I've come up with a title that sums it up in my head, even if it's not evident to the viewer.

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#8 thebiz

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Posted 03 April 2013 - 12:29 PM

I tend to see movie plots as spheres, and the better the plot fits together the more perfectly spherical it feels. The title really helps me focus the theme, which makes my movie more spherical.



I totally agree.

Also interesting to note the similar title issue. There are two major machinima movies with the title Clockwork which causes some amount of confusion. Always good to check around to make sure your title isnt already in use.

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#9 goofparade

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Posted 03 April 2013 - 10:51 PM

I totally agree.

Also interesting to note the similar title issue. There are two major machinima movies with the title Clockwork which causes some amount of confusion. Always good to check around to make sure your title isnt already in use.



Damn straight! I'll kill the first bastard that uses the title "Bill Dixon Motors" !:hammer:

Edited by goofparade, 03 April 2013 - 11:10 PM.
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#10 Harb40

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Posted 04 April 2013 - 05:44 PM

Always good to check around to make sure your title isnt already in use.


Same goes for Hollywood movies. There are two films titled 'Bad Boys' out there. One is with Sean Penn about juvenile prison (released first) while the other stars Martin Lawrence and about cops. Gets confusing when you ask someone if they have seen Bad Boys and they say "I love that movie. Martin was da bomb" when in reality you were asking them about the Penn film.

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