Exercises, writing


Titles and first lines are two of the hardest things to come up with when writing. Titles can sometimes be the easiest things to come up with, and other times a good title evades us for months on end.

Thankfully there are always working titles which can help us let the title itself brew in our subconscious and at least gives us something to call the story. A working title is just that, a title the story goes under while it’s a work in progress. It might end up changing throughout the process or we may find at the end that the working title fits perfectly.

Something to note too about titles, is that depending on the route you choose to go in publishing, your title may change based on feedback from editors or marketers.

As tricky as titles might be, you have several options when you need something to call the story.

Your main character’s name might very well stand in for a title, a la Jane Eyre or Harry Potter. There are entire series which are known by the name of the main character such as Anita Blake or even Sherlock Holmes.

Alternately, themes might give you a good place to look. Think not only Sense and Sensibility or Eat Pray Love but also things like the Fast and Furious franchise. This gives you a chance to pinpoint what your story should feel like and what it’s going to focus on.

Playing off theme, you can also use key or symbolic items. This might give you something like Blood and Chocolate or even Sword of Fire and Sea. It’s an easy option that can help you earmark other points of metaphor in the story.

Another way of using that symbolism might be to use your concept as your title. Star Wars springs to mind easily, but so does Blood Rights and even Order of the Phoenix. The basic idea behind the story has a lot of unexpected power. Concept titles tap into that.

As an Exercise

Try coming up with a title from each type for your story (you should have at least four), then mix and match those to give yourself some new titles and find one that resonates with your story.


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