It seems as though choosing a title for your piece of writing would be easy, right? Wrong. Choosing a good title can be quit a challenge. But where do you even begin? With so many words out there how do you find the right combination for your specific work? Here are a few steps that can help you figure it out - but remember it is a process, you can't just sit down and choose a perfect title. It takes a lot of time, thought, and even editing to find that title that is just right.
First, identify what kind of feeling or tone you want to convey with the title. Write it down. This is important, as I've seen humorous books with dead-serious titles, contemporary books whose titles say historical romance, novels that sound like self-help books... you get the picture. Be clear on what your title needs to instantly communicate.
Time to start brainstorming. Find twenty books on Amazon that are in the same genre as yours and whose titles you like. Write down their titles. Try to get a feel for what works with your genre. Take note of what you like about the titles, what don't you like. Then put that list away for awhile.
Sit with a pencil and paper. Take some time to free-associate, making lists of words related to your book. Put them in columns: nouns, verbs, adjectives. List words that describe or suggest the setting. Think about each of your major characters and write down words that relate to them. Think about the action in the story and write down verbs that capture it. Think about what you want your reader to feel after reading it. Add any words that describe what your book is about. Nothing is off limits - write down anything you can think of that conveys anything about your book. You should have at least 100 words.
Sort through your list and see if any of the words would work as a single-word title. Then start experimenting with different word combinations. Adjective-noun, verb-noun. Keep a thesaurus handy to look up more related words. Write down as many word combinations as you can. Try not to self-censor at this stage. From these lists, come up with at least 20 possible titles. Then put them away for 24 hours.
During this time your subconscious may still be working on thoughts. When you come back to your list, you'll have fresh eyes and hopefully a fresh perspective. Add any new ideas you've had. Then narrow it down to three to five possibilities.
Run this short list by a few people who are familiar with your writing project (this may or may not help, depending on if there's a consensus or the opinions are all over the map). Use this feedback to make adjustments. Put this list away for another day or two.
Remember your list of titles from Amazon? Get it back out. Ask yourself if the options you have would fit the list - without being too similar or generic.
A few more questions to ask as you narrow your list down and (FINALLY) choose your title:
Ultimately, you as the artist have to be happy with the title you choose. These are all just guidelines to help you along in your process. Just be sure to take some time and put serious thought into your title - it's not something to just choose on a whim.