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  • Writer's pictureKaecey McCormick

Lions and Tigers and Titles... Oh My! - Resources and Tips for Choosing a Title for Your Writing

It's NaNoWriMo and many of us are writing away at new stories and writing projects.

If you're anything like me, you start writing because a character (or an interesting situation) comes to visit your brain.

And you write and write and write and begin to bring the story to life. You start to get excited about your wonderful writing so you share bits and pieces of the project with your friends and/or fellow writers. 

And then, inevitably the question arises:

"So ... what's the title?" 

And you pause for a never-ending moment before answering with glassy eyes and a trembling smile, "Uh ... no title yet!"

You say this even if it is titled because you only have a working title. And most writers I know don't like to share their working title. Maybe because that would jinx the project. Or maybe the WT is boring or embarrassing or silly or unimaginative or anything but the perfect title you know your masterpiece deserves.

Nah, it's definitely the jinx.

Speaking from experience, I can say this traumatic title trouble also happens with poems, flash pieces, works of nonfiction both long and short, essays, research papers, academic works ... and yes, even blog posts.

So what's a writer to do? 

I wish I could give you a one-sentence magic answer ... but I have yet to master that mystical power. What I can do is give you a list of some pretty nifty websites that have helped me tackle title trouble in the past.

Here they are in no particular order:

  • From comes the post, How to Pick a Title For Your Book (doesn't get more obvious than that). What I like about this post is that it presents a number of options to brainstorm - I particularly like the suggestion to look for snatches of dialogue.

  • I love this post from Scott Berkun entitled The Truth About Choosing Book Titles because he hits on what matters and what doesn't, which helps when whittling down that endless brainstorm list of possible titles - I especially like #10!

  • Of course, the folks over at Writer's Digest offer some insightful tips. Be sure to check out Chuck Sambuchino's post, How to Choose Your Novel's Title: Let Me Count Five Ways.

  • The helpful Tucker Max over at Scribe Writing (formerly Book in a Box) has provided this detailed guide aptly named How to Write the Perfect Book Title. It covers everything from titular research to social media to your own gut - very helpful and full of jumping-off points for your title adventures.

  • Don't forget the value of old-fashioned brain picking - friends, family, even strangers in the supermarket might have the perfect title on the tips of their tongues. Poll your followers on social media. It works - my husband was instrumental in helping me figure out the title to a nonfiction piece I recently wrote for a workshop, and the first thing everyone commented on was the amazing title!

  • Still stumped? Check out these random title generators from TaraSparlingWrites. I'm happy to see that if I were to ever write Chic Lit, the title could be What Smiles Might Tell -- mysterious and strange, just like me!

If all else fails, keep in mind that if you decide to publish your baby via a publishing house, the editor and marketing peeps may make the decision for you.

So sit back, relax, and keep writing. The title will appear, one way or the other. At least that's what I keep telling myself!

Do you have tips for tackling titles? I'd love to hear about them!


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