How To Survive Writing The Story With No Title #Writers #AmWriting


I never thought the writer control freak inside of me would permit the writing of a story WITH NO TITLE. 

Even writing the words ‘no title’ make me shiver.

I never thought I could start writing a story without typing the story title at the top, making it bold and underlining it.

I never thought I would have to manage a bunch of characters in my head who are part of ‘the untitled story.’ 

Can I just say that its not been easy for my characters as they have faced a lot of ridicule from my other characters, who are part of a story with a title.

I never thought I could write something referred to in my head as ‘untitled.’

If I had met you a few months ago and you had asked me to start writing a story without a title, I would have given you an odd look.

Once you turned away I would have whispered to myself, “are they bonkers – do I look like the type of writer who can just let herself go and start writing something WITHOUT A TITLE? Gosh next they’ll be asking whether I can stop myself from putting ‘chapter one’ at the top of the page.”

And then the unthinkable happened. Gasp!

One day, whilst my head was shoved inside the fridge, I was sneakily nibbling on some cheese without being seen by loved ones, an idea for a story pinged into my head. I had to stop nibbling as something was wrong. There was no title attached to what my brain had given me.

After having a stern word with my brain, about sending me half-baked ideas with no title, I sat and waited.

For a few weeks I waited. Still no title!

By this point the idea had grown inside my head and I was experiencing skull pressure.

On the third week with no sign of a title and feeling like I was going to burst, I let out an exasperated wail, grabbed my laptop and emptied my brain onto a word document.

For the first time in my little writing life the urge to write the story was stronger than sorting out the frilly stuff like a title. 

Looking back now I am glad things got to this stage. 

This experience had taught me you don’t need a title to start writing your draft novel. 

Writing myth busted and one of my favourite writing excuses (can’t write something which has no title – duh!) gone! 

Starting a first draft without a title did feel a bit strange for me. Seeing the top part of the page blank made my fingers itch and my writer control freak mutter some bad stuff. I also had a dark and sweaty nightmare about being trapped in a lift with someone important from the literary world and when they asked the title of my draft novel I would shrug and mumble, ‘the untitled story.’ 

I will say that writing a draft without a title makes me feel a bit naughty, liberated and a writer rebel. Sigh!

If I am honest I find the ‘untitled story,’ to be a little bit exciting. It is an unknown.

Telling a loved one I am writing something called ‘untitled,’ was interesting. He raised an eyebrow at me and went back to watching sport on TV.

So, how do you handle such a situation?

Stay calm.

In view of what I know now, my advice is to FORGET about the title. 

Oh my goodness I can’t believe I am writing this!

I have learnt titles come later. They should not a barrier to you writing. 

Magical things happen when you let go and just let your story come out.

Putting a title in place early on can restrict you. 

I have come to realise that giving your story a title is a bit like naming a child before it’s born. Once your child or story pops out they might not look like your chosen name or fit your title.

Titles are super important and careful thought needs to go into them. They are a vital sales tool and attract the attention of readers. Story titles have to convey the story and give the reader a small taste of what is to come. So it makes perfect sense to put your title to one side and get your story right first.

When your title does materialise it is a wonderful and joyous occasion. Everything comes together and it can get quite emotional.

So tell your writer control freak that you will name your creation once it’s been born and until then you are going to take a deep breath, write ‘The Untitled Story,’ make it bold and underline it. Quickly followed by you writing, ‘chapter one’, making that bold and underlining it. Sigh!

Take care writers, keep writing those untitled stories and nibbling on cheese when no one is looking. 


Photo by Matthew Kane on Unsplash

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Lucy Mitchell lives in South Wales with her husband, her two teenage daughters, a giant labrador and a gang of unruly cats. Lucy is the author of the award winning blog, BlondeWriteMore and was a Featured Romance Author on Wattpad. When sheโ€™s not working or writing, Lucy can be found listening to audiobooks in a muddy field with her dog or sat outside her local pub in the sunshine enjoying a glass of wine. Her debut novel Instructions Falling In Love Again is OUT now and already pulling in some fabulous reviews โค๏ธ

19 thoughts on “How To Survive Writing The Story With No Title #Writers #AmWriting

  1. Sometimes I’ll have a title from the off but most of the time I just write and hope one will come to me as I’m typing. Oath Breaker popped into my head before I put fingers to keyboards but my non-fiction titles are crafted on the hop. In fact, two of my non-fiction titles were changed slightly just before publication on advice from an awesome writer friend.

  2. I never have a title when I start. I usually don’t have one when I’ve finished, either. The books in my latest series only have titles because I used a kind of shorthand to refer to them in my notes. When I realised what I was doing I saw that I had perfectly good titles, which placed them in the correct historical period.

  3. When this happens to me, I call it ‘Working Title’ and try not to worry about it. I always hang on to the hope that something will occur to me before I type ‘The End’.
    Most of the time, something does, but there is one book that tried to be awkward, and I still don’t like the title it ended up with!

  4. Yes title can come later. I usually don’t have a title when I start a story. A “draft” title to save in word document but as the story unfolds something pops up that says “here I am use me”. Could be a comment someone even makes.

  5. Oooh, I did something right then ๐Ÿ™‚

    Actually, I never ever pluck a title before writing. I don’t know the story well enough at that point…same with going OD on character sheets of story boards. To use a King euphemism excavate the bones first. By the end of first draft you know way more about the characters, story and settings. I feel the same applies to deciding on a title. In fact I may inadvertently have written the title during the first draft and lodge it somewhere in the text. Creating a title first would be not too dissimilar to crafting a cover design before knowing where the plot goes. Getting hung up on the title first would, to me, just add more levels of procrastinating about why I should not just get on with the wordcraft.

    I guess it depends how you look at the construction process; if that’s rigid (#OCD) then title, character sheet, story arc become intolerable inhibitors before you even type “Chapter One.” Same with worrying about grammatical structure and word use; bones first the edit in the flesh after.

    Well, that’s my reasoning and; really should do a post on how I write really ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Fascinating post as ever Lucy ๐Ÿ™‚

    1. Thank you Gary.

      You will be featuring in this week’s Roxy episode. Her and wild Cousin Mags are going on a Girls Night out. Can’t wait for Thursday! Hope you like it ๐Ÿ‘๐Ÿป. For noting – you will be the sensible one.

      1. Oh my, any bits of your and Roxy’s are fine by me ๐Ÿ˜Š Mind you, I could come strong in series three or four…you never know…even a final chapter when she realises all this galavanting about was just a front waiting for the right person to grab hold and slow her down!!

  6. Hi Lucy,
    As you know, I don’t write fiction. I write blog post essays about how to blog better.
    Although I always know a topic, I don’t know a title until I put an idea into the CoSchedule Headline Analyzer. Today’s headline got an 80, Yay! Often it takes half an hour just to get in the mid 70’s. A mystery what it will be? Like with you, yes. Off to share.

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