Usually, I start with a premise. One of those what-if's that writers hold on to like a stubborn Labrador. I'll shake it around, see if it's any fun.
But, sometimes, I start with a title. The title may have the hints of a premise in it, but barely so. It's a rough starting point, but because I'm
Sometimes it works-- such as the previously published stories Sex Act (previously at MuzzleFlash,) Private Eyes and Ears (Crime and Suspense) and Missing but not Missed (BackAlley Webzine) and Mighty Maids Mystery (Yellow Mama.)
Sometimes, these story titles nag at me, progressing from "Oh, neat!" to something that should be printed off just so it can be burned. Right now, I have a couple titles that are just a pain in my stubborn side. Included on the list are: Bosom Buddies, Man of the Month, and Hit Woman. I think I finally got Hit Woman moving onto the completed list, but it's been a long time coming.
Of course, the irony is that more often than not, the title is the last thing I come up with. I can usually gauge if the story is "done" by whether or not I'm happy with the title. This is actually the problem with the aforementioned story "Hit Woman." I like the story, but I'm not sure that Hit Woman is an appropriate title anymore. Unfortunate since I do like the title.
However, because I need something to use as a file name, my stories have to have SOME title from the start. "Short story #37" just doesn't work when I'm looking for it. Without some description, some title, the story doesn't stick in my mind, thus making the file hard to keep track of. So, I end up with some stupid, lame title that bothers me every single time I double-click the little icon with the blue W. "Untitled Revenge Story" or "Poker" or "Skeleton Story." Or maybe it's the name of the case "Raskin Case" (which became "Failing Mark" and published at Long Story Short) or "Francis Thayer Whitaker" (which was later titled "Family Affairs of Adult Children" and published at Mysterical-E). Using the name of the case doesn't bother me quite as much, but it's still a reminder that I haven't come up with a clever title.
And then there's this little niggly problem with some of these too-clever titles that are just so apt for Bo Fexler stories. Or rather a problem that comes with working several jobs and being on several other computers. The file name stays in the recent file directory. I don't think having "Jailbait" or "Sex and Violence" show up on a public computer is a very good idea. Especially the school computers... where I teach and oversee the independent study classes.
Just one more thing for a crazy writer to muse about.
What do you do about stories and file names?