Titles Are My Nemesis

I know there are writers out there that are able to come up with titles off the top of their heads without issue. Long lists of perfect labels that encompass everything about their work in a short set of words that sets the mood for whatever piece of writing it is that they’ve spent time perfecting. Some writers come up with titles they like (and keep!) before they write even a single word.

To those people, I ask the following:

Who the hell are you and how the hell do you do that? You know what? Get out of here, you non-struggling titlers. Just go. There’s the door. Good day. I SAID GOOD DAY!

I’m sorry. Come back. Please. All are welcome here.

Titles. They need the right feel, the right mood. If you’re writing genre fiction, titles are equally important to help tell reader what your piece is about. You can’t go writing about death and destruction and name it “Sunshine and Daisies.” Well, you could but…

Do you use a line you love from the book? Do you make a list of words that describe your book and try to come up with something from that list, twisting and rearranging until something fits? Do you listen to music compulsively like me and take inspiration from that?

So you write a book, you slave over editing, rewriting, draft after draft. You query the hell out of agents and you happen to be one of the lucky few that signs with an agent and ultimately sell to a publisher. (For argument’s sake, let’s pretend that the publisher is not 99% in control of naming your book and it’s up to you.) By the grace of God, your book is published and miraculously finds its way into brick and mortar stores. It’s there, on the shelves, with thousands of its now closest friends.

Spine out.

What is your title? What does it convey? That little piece of bound material that’s displayed with no help from the front and back covers with their mood setting images. You have maybe five words to set the set spirit and tone, to make the best first impression you possibly can. It may be the only chance you get. So what do you choose?

I keep a list of titles on my phone that I add to whenever an idea hits. I know that if I don’t write it down immediately I will definitely forget it. “OOOH! That’s a good one. That could work for my current work-in-progress! Let me put this on my list of great ideas right now!”

Two days later when I look at that list again – “What the hell was I thinking? That is a horrible idea for a title.”

How do you find one that works AND one you actually like? Beats me. It seems I always end up settling for something that feels good enough.

What are your thoughts? How do you come up with working titles for your manuscript? How do you decide it’s the right one? If you come up with a perfect title from the jump, is it ok that I want to push you down the stairs in a fit of jealousy? I’m kidding. Pushing you down the stairs was an accident. I swear.

Damn it, Dean. SECRETS!

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6 thoughts on “Titles Are My Nemesis

  1. . says:

    @RubyNibs says: Excellent post. I feel the same way. And I’ll testify to it being an accident. *sticks her leg out in front of the Super Titler* Accidents DO happen…”accidentally.” *shifty eyes*

  2. The moment I come up with an idea for a story a title pops into my head. It’s like finding a box of mementos in the attic and opening it. On top is a single photo that instantly defines that person’s life, while beneath it lies the full story waiting to be organized.

  3. […] I’m currently working on Playing the Part     Safe and Sound   What We Become a piece for which I cannot decide on a title. If you’re one of those people that instantly grabs onto a title they love, well…I discuss my feelings about you here. […]

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