Advice from the Fandom—Deciding Titles for Stories & Chapters


Song lyrics are a huge inspiration for titles and chapters. Almost all of my fic titles are taken from some sort of song lyric – usually ridiculously pretentious indie stuff. Often times from the Avett Brothers. They usually have relatively little to do with the story or the chapter.


I like themes. Constant was all Joni Mitchell songs, the overall and the chapters. For the Summer just kind of happened. I kept typing ‘for the summer’ in my synopsis and outline and emails that I decided that had to be the title. In picking the chapter names, they kind of picked themselves. I kept referring the chapters as ‘the one where he doesn’t show’, ‘the one where she gets her period’ and they just kind of stuck.


I don’t have a method for a title, I wish I did. Sometimes it’s the first thing that comes to me of a story, sometimes it’s the last. Chapters I name for myself, really-haha! I try to use a couple of key words, so while I am writing future chapters, if I want to go back in my story and check something I said earlier, the chapter title will give me a clue as to where it is. I try to keep the chapter titles fairly cryptic, so there aren’t spoilers.


The Title ALWAYS comes first for me. And chapter titles reflect the point of the chapter. ARS is all 80s songs and TCB is excerpts from the Betrothal Books and TT is just a summation of the chapter content.


I’m terrible at naming fics. Terrible. Sometimes I ask others for help (beta, prereaders, etc). Every now and then I come up with a good idea on my own. For chapter names, it depends on the fic. Probably the weirdest thing I ever did was for Seismic Hazards – I picked to word that summed up the chapter and googled those words, putting together the chapter names based on words that came up from the search.


Story titles just sort of happen once I’ve started writing. I guess that is sort of a backward way to go about it but it’s what works for me. Chapter titles is the same thing. Something that resonated from within the chapter is usually what I go with.

Obsessing Over Edward

I love to play with words to get an interesting title. When considering a name, I look at the overall theme of the story and then brainstormed for all the words associated with that theme. Once I have a long list, I plug them together until I come up with something that fits the story. Sometimes the result is a play on words.

I had so much fun naming Lady of the Knight and all the chapter titles because it was a fairytale theme. In this instance, the overall theme of the story came out in the title even though it wasn’t a medieval romance. Lady of the night is a term used to describe a prostitute, and in this fic Bella wasn’t a hooker, but Edward thought she was for the first couple of chapters, plus it’s also a crossover of Pretty Woman. Then Edward is the Knight in shining armor that rides in and saves the fair lady.

A one-shot I wrote was May the Best Man Win, which is a common phrase usually used in a match against two men. Well in this story the BEST MAN (in a wedding) did win the girl.

Devil’s Angel is another play on words. In the original one-shot, Edward was a Hell’s Angel and I just took all the words associated with Hell and came up with Devil.

Happy Endings is what Bella got in the end, literally and figuratively. A happy ending is an orgasm at the end of a massage which is what she happily received. *wink*

Not all my stories were play on words. Holding Out For You was inspired by a song by SheDaisy called Still Holding Out For You about a widow and her grief. The song inspired the second chapter of HOFY so I kept the name. The same with My Turned on Master, it was the actual title of the “I dream of Jeanie” episode that I took the crossover idea from.

The rest of my titles came from within the story. Lots of times the name comes to me when I’m writing a specific scene.


Titles always have something to do with the plot and tone of the story and for the chapter. I probably spend way too much time obsessing over chapter titles, but it makes me happy and I think it pulls the story together nicely.


When choosing a title, you want one that people are going to remember, one that is going to stand out from the bazillion other stories in this fandom, and one that doesn’t have the wrong connotations. Search on to ensure that no other stories have the same or similar titles. Google the title to ensure that it’s relatively unique out in the “real” world as well. Another thing to consider with titles is that people in the fandom will often abbreviate it. So you don’t want one that abbreviates to SUCK. Then again, that could be funny, depending on what mood you’re going for.

scarlett letters

Titles are so hard. I’ve pulled from poetry and songs lyrics for my titles. Pieces I feel inspired by and relate to the story.


I passionately hate titling things because it’s so important. It’s marketing (which is ironically part of what I do for a living . . .) for your story. Sometimes, like with Learning To Say No, I just pull a random string of words out of my butt and then a quarter of the way through the story realize my brain actually fed me the central theme of the story. Leaf Dances came directly from the prologue after it was written, while The Fool and The Tool was titled before I even started writing the story. There’s not really any method to my madness. Just remember that the title sets the reader’s expectations for your story, so if you have a sappy sounding title, those are the sorts of readers you’ll get, or a tongue-in-cheek title, etc.


Story titles have always just come to me. I’ve never really struggled to think of one. Usually while I’m still in the planning stage, the story just sort of names itself and I don’t fight it.
I pull a lot of chapter titles from songs, both titles and lyrics. That, or it’s just about what happens in the chapter. Nothing too fancy.


I summarize the emotion of my story into at least three words and try to figure out something punchy.

For Stampede of a Thousand Pulses, I thought back to when I was depressed and dumb enough to do cocaine–my heart would beat out of my friggin’ chest.

For C5-6, it was self explanatory. Sometimes simple is good.

For Oblivious Ill Will, it was the thought of behind left behind and not realizing that you hate the person who left you for it.

Personally it’s all about word play for me–simplicity is effective.

Tallulah Belle

I’m pretty bad with titles. I’ve asked others for titles for the stories. Elemental has been the only time that I knew for certain what the story was going to be called.

I tend to number my chapters. It’s easier that way. Although Elemental does have a title for each chapter, I just don’t post it. I personally want people to read it without some preconceived notion of what’s happening in that chapter and try not to think too deeply what the title could mean.


For an overall story, I try to think of as many names as possible and then choose the one I think will fit the story best.

As far as chapter names are concerned, I like to have a common thread between them. For Code Name: Nanny I use words that end with ‘ing’.


One comment on “Advice from the Fandom—Deciding Titles for Stories & Chapters

  1. Sometimes it’s hard for me to come up with the title of a story, while other times it’s pretty easy. I kind of break down my story a little and find something interesting, important, or something that sticks out to me. For Midnight Romeo, the title came from the “serial killer’s” name. The police call him that, so that’s what stuck out. For my upcoming story Blue Jeans and Graphic Tees, it was a phrase that stuck with me. Other times it may be a bit harder for me. I make a list of possible title and then just pick the one that was interesting and didn’t reveal too much.

    As for chapter titles, that varies. For Midnight Romeo, I’m using song titles that relate to the chapter. For instance, Bella thought she was being followed, so the chapter title was “I always feel like somebody’s watching me.” For Blue Jeans and Graphic Tees, it’s be a pair of something that relates to the chapter. An example? Bella will be milking cows and have trouble collecting eggs from the hens who run around like they’re heads are cut off, therefore the title would be “fresh milk and headless hens.”

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