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Aw, Man! Can’t I Just Call It “Work In Progress” Forever?

Titles.

Sometimes they are tricky and you’re still hashing it out long after you’ve written The End.

Other times they come to you before you’ve even constructed a single line of prose.

Don’t you always want yours to be brilliant, catchy, and meaningful?

Maybe you’re a long title person. (Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day)

Maybe you’re a one-worder. (Twilight)

I’m currently reading Crafting Novels & Short Stories: Everything You Need to Know to Write Great Fiction.

One of the first things suggested by the authors (a collection of Writer’s Digest authors), even before you’ve written anything, is that you give your WIP a title.

A working title. A title that distinguishes your work from everything else saved on your computer and, at best, gives you some idea of what you’re writing about.

Check. I do that. I think most probably do.

But it’s kind of like naming a kid. Once I’ve called it something, it’s really difficult for me to change it. At least in my mind.

I’m sure some of you out there are more relaxed. One day you’re calling your story “The Zombie Apocalypse” and they next day it’s re-titled “Everything’s Coming Up Worms.”

I know authors who’ve had their titles changed at the prompting of their editors. I think that’s probably a weird feeling– wanting to do what’s best for the story and letting go of the name you gave it.

I wish we could do this for humans–suggest they change the names of their children. After all, it’s in the best interest and for the future success of the child. (No child should ever be called Earl. Or Floyd. Or Lurlene. Just sayin’.)

Nine times out of ten, during the writing stage, my title is just that–working. It changes several times before I finally pin down the perfect one.

Most of the time the title comes to me during the writing process, most likely when I’m at least 1/2 through my manuscript.

Once–just once–the title came to me first.

Share with me: How do titles work for you? Do they come to you before, during, or after your story? Are they tricky, or does the perfect title arrive wrapped in a shiny bow?

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