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Titling a Literary Work (The Process)

by Gail DeBole


You have an idea for a story, novel, poem, or article and cannot wait to begin. As excited as you may be, you become stumped. What should the title be? You ruminate on this and cannot move on. Here’s some advice…MOVE ON.

Why should you move on? Because this might not be the best time to title your work anyway. And here’s why.

  • If you happen to think of a title right away, go ahead and title it. Be aware that your idea for your literary work might go in a different direction. (Thanks to the creative process.) As a result, the title may change. Keep in mind that writing is one of the most creative processes there is and includes self-editing.
  • If you cannot think of a title right away, that might be best. Without worrying about a title, you can see where your ideas and writing journey take you. A title may come to mind as you are in the process of writing.

The Titling Process

  1. If you already have a title in mind when you start your literary work, write it down. However, do not think that you have to strictly adhere to that title unless you are working on some type of assignment stating that you must use that title.
  2. Do not become frustrated if you think of another title or multiple titles as you continue writing. Jot down any additional titles that come to mind at whatever point you are in the writing process. This list of titles may lead you to decide upon a final title.
  3. Do not delete any title ideas. You may find that one of the titles you do not use now actually leads to writing another piece.
  4. Review all of your titles when you are finished writing and editing your literary work.
  5. One or more of the following may occur.
  • You will use your original title.
  • You will use one of the other titles you thought of, as is.
  • You will use a combination of the words from several titles.
  • You will not use any of the titles, but your review of the titles will lead you to think of a more appropriate title.
  • A title that you decide not to use may lead you to an idea for another literary work.

The most important aspect of all is to never block your creative process by forcing yourself to think in a certain way. Brainstorming is always the way to start. Finetuning is the way to finish.

Book: Reflection on the Important Things