"Add a Catchy Title"
This is the instruction the title box gives me when I start a new post, but it also got me thinking about story titles.
In my experience, there are 4 ways to come up with a title for your novel/story:
1) A title suddenly appears before you like a magical vision, appearing as if in a dream, and you build the entire story around it, and it's perfect.
2) Part-way through writing, the stars align and you are presented with a glorious title that sounds great and fits like a glove.
3) You finish writing the story, think back upon your majestic work, and suddenly the clouds part, delivering you the best title ever.
4) You have no idea what the hell you're doing, everything sounds basic and pedestrian, and so you simply pluck some words out of the ether and form a coherent-sounding title from them.
[Sometimes I'll get #1, but more often then not, I'm #4.]
You'd think that I wouldn't put too much stock into titles, seeing as how I have such trouble coming up with the, but I do. I have literally bought books because the title intrigued me. It grabbed my attention, making me focus on it instead of the other surrounding books, and (as long as the premise was also interesting) got me to buy it.
See, titles can be a great tool for a writer. They can help you let readers know what they're in for -- priming them for the journey contained within the pages, and getting them in the right headspace for the world they're about to enter. Or you can use it as a tool to subvert their expectations, leading them along a path before jumping out with a surprise twist.
So choose your words carefully*, because titles can be just as important as the story you tell.
*(she says to herself)