Monday Minute: A Word on Working Titles

Since the beginning of April, I’ve been participating in Camp NaNoWriMo. It was really a spontaneous decision because I hadn’t planned on doing it. However, the thought of writing a gothic horror novel appealed to me so much that I thought April was the perfect time to start writing another novel. It’s been smooth sailing so far but one aspect I struggle with is coming up with a title–even a working one.

Creating and choosing a title is a time-consuming and important process. Your title can either make or break your story, drawing readers in or making them pull away. That’s part of the reason why I struggle so much with working titles because it can also have one of these effects one me as I’m writing it. Maybe it’s the perfectionist in me but it really bugs me if it’s not the perfect title–just like the perfect dress or the perfect house.

To put a title on an incomplete work seems too binding to me, even if it is only temporary but this is just my opinion. I have to admit that I do feel strange without a title just the same, especially when I’m participating in things like NaNoWriMo. I just feel that I need a good sense of what my story is about, what major themes are apparent throughout and what the underlying message is within the story before I even start thinking about a title and to do that, I have to start writing.

While I was doing NaNoWriMo last year, my title changed a few times throughout the writing process but I finally nailed down one that I and other people liked. Once I had finished the story, the title I choose in the end just felt right. I think I’m the type of writer who prefers to create a title after I’m done writing but maybe it’s different with every project…

I figure that even if I have a working title, it’ll likely change anyway. I don’t see any rush in creating one, so I’m usually content to wait until I have a better sense of the story. I realize that having a lot of documents named along the lines of “Adventure Fantasy Story 2016” can get confusing but it works for me–at least for the time being 🙂


Do you think it’s necessary to have a working title? How do you feel about having a title versus not having one during the writing process?

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5 thoughts on “Monday Minute: A Word on Working Titles

  1. Susanna J. Sturgis says:

    Maybe it’s different for long works than for short ones, but I can’t imagine working on something for a year or two or three and not having a name to call it by. It may change over time or it may stay the same. It may turn out to be the final title or it may not. Working titles can and do shape the work and the way you think of it, but they can change over time too.

    • creativewriter says:

      I agree. If you’re working on a project for that long it seems unusual to not have a name to call it by and claim as your own. I think I have to be more lenient about using working titles (even if I don’t end up using them anyway) because they do shape your work and understanding of it, like you say. Thanks for your thoughts!

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