Wednesday, 8 February 2017

What's in a name?

I have a story in the current (March) issue of Take A Break's Fiction Feast. My original title of Daisy Chains has been changed to They're Just Flowers.

Magazine editors quite often change story titles and I'm never surprised when it happens. There are several reasons they might do this - perhaps the original was similar to something they've used recently, it may be to fit a house style (some favour short titles and some longer) or so it fits neatly on the page or even in the contents list.

With this story the main character's name has also be changed. That is a surprise as it's never happened to me before. (I once had a boy turned into a girl, which I think may have been to suit an illustration, but the name stayed the same.)

No doubt there's a very good reason for Angus to now be called Archie, but I can't think what it might be. Can you?

Have you ever had story titles or character names changed? How do (or would) you feel about that?


  1. I've had story titles changed but not character's names. It doesn't bother me about the title changes & it wouldn't bother me if they changed the character's names either. I think once they've bought the story they can do what they want with it, as long as it doesn't make the story terrible! I think if there were structural changes I might wonder why they bought the story in the first place, only to change it.

  2. I've had titles change, names change - even colour of eyes or hair change, but it doesn't bother me. Once a Boxer dog was changed into a Basset Hound, but it was probably done to fit an illustration. Looking forward to reading your story in FF.

  3. Much prefer 'Daisy Chains.' I've heard of title changes (a friend's novel title was changed by her publisher - her title was far more catchy and interesting) but not name changes. I guess I'd accept it with grace if I was being paid a nice fee!

  4. In the very first story that TABFF ever accepted from me, they changed 1st person point of view to 3rd person pov and the main character's name was changed to...HELEN! (ie: same as me). Seemed a bit odd, out of all the names in all the world, they chose that one. It looked as though I was writing about myself! But it doesn't bother me if they change names or titles. It's up to them, once they've bought the story!

  5. Yes - have had names and titles changed from time to time. No idea why, exactly. Not a problem, although if a story has a particular geographical/historical background (eg Cornwall/Victorian) I might choose a specific name to go with that, and might consequently feel slightly miffed if that vanished...
    I try never to use family names, so if one was inadvertently chosen for me perhaps I'd feel a bit odd about it. But still, not a problem!

    I once had a pet supplied, though. Felt the story should have had the surtitle 'With Added Rabbit' like a packet of petfood.

    Perhaps Archie is simply a more popular name than Angus, these days?

  6. Congratulations, Patsy.

    I don't write short stories because I find them more difficult to write than novels. I'm in awe of anyone who can write a story with a beginning, middle and end in few enough words to fit on two or three pages in a magazine. So no, I haven't had a character's name changed or a title changed, and I must admit, if either was changed without discussion or explanation, I'd be a bit peeved. It's simple manners, isn't it?
    Very well done.

    Ange xx

  7. I prefer your title Patsy, their choice isn't a patch on yours, but they are the buyers.
    I wrote a shorty story called The Last Passenger, it was chosen to be made into a short film. The script writer changed things including the title, which became The Raven.

    I felt miffed at the time, but then it went on to win Best Horror in the 2011 End of the Pier Film Festival, so I was okay about it then. :-)

  8. The first story I sold to TABFF they changed the title. I wasn't expecting it so was caught off guard as I stood in the supermarket excitedly scanning the contents page for my title and then realising they'd changed it. I was really disappointed at the time (it was a very personal story to me about my gran who'd just passed away, so I think that made it worse). But now whenever I sell a story, I'm just so pleased to have it accepted I'm not bothered what they do with it (to a certain extent of course!)I have also had the odd name changed. One of which really didn't work for me in the story. But I've come to accept it now and don't give it too much thought.

  9. Well done, Patsy - good you're already with TABFF in light of the new policy! One of the reasons for a change of name our writing group was told by DC Thomson is when another story in that issue has a character with the same name. Don't know if this applies here!

  10. Thanks for your thoughts - and shared experiences - everyone.

    I don't really mind when changes have been made and I don't expect them to ask/tell me in advance. Most are perfectly logical, but a few do seem a bit odd.

  11. The only time I've had character name changes have been in That's Life! in Australia, and I put that down to the names I'd picked perhaps being too 'British'. Not sure why Archie's better than Angus - I like Angus!

  12. Hmmm.

    I feel like I'm in the minority when I say I do get a bit bothered now and again with a name change. I don't mind when TL Australia change my titles because they're usually along the same lines as my own anyway, but I've shaken my head at a few of TAB's choice for title changes.


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