Friday, September 25, 2009

Book and Chapter Titles

Current Week's Word Count: 6,648
The White Lilac Total: 53,900 of 90,000
Favorite Book of the Month: Sent By: Margaret Peterson Haddix

I love creating stories, but I come very close to hating the creation of titles. My aversion to titles leads me to call my chapters by thrilling names like, "Chapter One," or "Chapter Twenty-two." I normally follow a sequential pattern, but it could be fun to start a book with the last chapter number and work back to one. So when I move onto naming the actual written manuscript I have nothing to base my ideas off of. Most of the "working" titles I come up with are more for me to know what I want to do with the story. Like, The CEO Killer, The Kingdomless King or The Plane Ride Home. (Not Actual Titles. Titles have been changed to protect the innocent.) Perhaps I should try using a word aside from 'the' to begin the creative process.

I have been blessed because when I sit down to write each day the empty page does not fill me with dread. But when I sit down with a pen and paper preparing to title my new work to death, I stare and stare at that page. Then I start dropping phrases like those above until I have used every creative atom in my brain at least once, some more than once. When I am too tired to think of anything else, I hold a democratic vote and give myself unlimited ballots. (And yes, most of my elections are fixed. It works better this way.) For tie-breakers I ask family members and writer friends. With the new title sworn in, I hold my breath and wonder when my creative atoms will be recovered enough for another brain storm.

If there is a system for creating exciting titles I would love to know it. As you can see from my current work-in-progress title I am still growing in the title creation process. Let me assure you, this title is much better than what I used to call it when it was only an idea. I shudder when I remember it. Until the day when perfect titles blossom on my page, full of mystery, adventure and magnetism, I will struggle through the empty page and corrupt election system.

Question: How do you come up with titles?


  1. Have you ever thought about flipping through your manuscript and picking random words? Its worked well for me so far.

  2. Hmm...Very interesting idea. I will have to try that and see if it works for me.

    Wait a moment...Okay, I just got 'The The Her' and 'Nancy Strange Given.' Do you use completely random words or do you select words at random? I may need more time to practice this. Thanks for the comment.

  3. I prefer shorter title, both when creating my own and when looking over the titles of books. In highschool my writing was greatly influenced by the journalism and poetry class I had in the same semester. They combined to leave a definate mark on me.