As authors of our own (sometimes not so) little stories in our own little slice of the universe, one of our struggles comes up when it is time to give name to the fruits of our labor, be it a short story, a novel, or a whole series of works. We want that title to be catchy, something that draws the eye and begs a potential reader to give it a shot, see if it's something they're interested in, and maybe even to read and/or comment on it. Unfortunately, when it comes to such an important item in the agenda, there can be some pretty hairy hangups and potential snags that you have to watch out for. If you've ever had trouble coming up with an appropriate title for your latest piece of narrative, you've come to the right place. But first it is only fair that I offer a subtle warning: some of the discussion may inevitably relate to works that have once been published to the Jedi Council Forums. Thus, it would seem prudent to try and understand that any reference to such stories should not be done with malice by the mentioner, and should be given the benefit of the doubt by the reader. All this aside, I came up with a short list for your consideration: Story Title Dos and Don'ts: Try to encapsulate the main focus of the story; to whit, a novel about a Jedi's coming of age should probably be given a simple title that carries the tale's essence. Don't attempt to be more clever than you are. Most of the time the result, to the outside observer, will come off as hackneyed and/or overwrought. If during the course of writing your story, an appropriate title just leaps out at you, grab it by the horns and use it. Unless, of course, you later find that your story has taken a different direction. No matter how tempting it may be, shy away from using the following terms in a story title: "Echoes", "Shades", "Saga of", "Legend of", "Essence", "Always", "Forever", "Whisper(s)", or any non-English word in a story written in English. If you absolutely must use any of these terms, attempt to do your utmost to ensure that the title still fits the story. Don't spend too much time coming up with your title. Usually (but not always) the first thing that hits you is what will work best. Adapting the title to the tone of your tale can help immeasurably; if it is a serious story, use a serious title, if it is a farce, then feel free to go nuts. While writing stories, some of us come up with so-called "working titles" that mean something to the author, but may or may not be the best of matches for the story we end up coming up with, hence the term. However, sometimes the working title still fits even after the tale is complete. If it feels right, don't hesitate to use it, because spending too much time dwelling on it is time spent whittling a stick of wood into sawdust. Not unlike constantly rewriting That First Chapter, as Michael Stackpole might say. It is also important that you give the story you are trying to tell some time to grow before you turn yourself toward the task of naming it. Like with babies, we don't often pick a name from day one of pregnancy and assign the unborn child (or pet) that moniker without any further consideration. One potentially catastrophic side effect of selecting the title before the story is written is the tendency of the title tail to wag the content dog, meaning that we end up having to write for and about the title instead of what we want to write, if only for some imagined sense of consistency. Al Franken lampshades this in the first chapter of his first political book (published in 1996), entitled Rush Limbaugh is a Big Fat Idiot and Other Observations. Titles that allude to, or are even taken from, previously published professional prose, are perfectly okay so long as they fit the story. I did this myself when writing my first fan fiction novel, The Last Full Measure. Of course, the original use was for a novel of the American Civil War by Jeffery Shaara, but it was appropriate for a couple of reasons: first, it was a story that took place during the Jedi Civil War and second, it was about a dangerous mission where survival was, at best, uncertain. That said, trying to imitate famous authors', directors' or producers' titling styles when coming up with your own story name can bring its own hazards. Some folks are simply astoundingly gifted at coming up with interesting titles that grab your attention, but even Stanley Kubrick can have a misstep or two (Eyes Wide Shut, IMHO, wasn't exactly grade-A material as a film, and its title was basically just an aloof metaphor). So, now that I've fired off the first broadside, let's see what develops. I'm interested to hear what everyone thinks.