Fellow writers, how do you choose the titles of your work?
I can’t keep calling my WIP the Snowmobile Story, you see. I’ve gotten to know Adam and made him suffer through so much, throwing him into this predicament and that — I feel like, at this juncture, I need a real working title.
A few years ago, when I was developing the Talbot Trilogy, a friend who was a former student suggested a formula she’d determined for finding a title. It involved looking for frequently used nouns, selecting the first or third or fifth word on page x, and seeing what sounded good from some combination of these things. At the time, it worked for me, but I didn’t write the concept down. If my description sounds vague, that’s because I cannot recall exactly what she said or what I did. So I’m back at square one for this novel.
I thought, for a while, that I’d just leave the title until the end. At that point, perhaps a quote would stand out for me, or a brilliant idea would burst forth from my weary brain, announcing itself with fireworks and fanfare. Maybe that will still happen, but until that time, I would like to come up with something a little more interesting and motivating — something that the growing draft deserves.
After all, it’s not a short story at this point, it’s midway to becoming a short novel. And it’s being prepared for an audience.
Sometimes, I find that having a beta reader go through a finished draft helps me out, because she or he (sorry, gentlemen, it’s usually a “she”) might suggest something better to call it than the title I’m using. I’m very open to suggestions.
So when it comes to titles, what do you do about them? Do you use a formula of some kind, or wait for inspiration? Start with a great title and write the story that belongs to it?