I have a working title for my novel! Finally! I had been working on trying to come up with one for months. I talked about it already in Choosing a title for your novel (check it out for more specific advice), but I was having absolutely no luck on my own.
I brainstormed on paper. I wrote down loads of possible titles. I went in multiple directions, trying place names, character names, and thematic names. Nothing fit. Sometimes I got close. Mostly, everything I came up with sounded cheesy or wrong.
What changed? Talking out the title possibilities with an objective friend. She asked me the big thematic questions, but went further, asking me to explain my answers.
What ties everything together? Okay, and why does that tie everything together, specifically?
It turned out that the two thematic ideas that I was stuck on were completely off base. Since I was stuck on them, I couldn’t see any other possibilities. They were like window display themes. They could easily represent the story, but they were also generic and vapid. That was why the 17+ related titles that I came up with on my own were cheesy. I was coming up with names that could work for entirely different kinds of novels.
If you’re having trouble coming up with book titles, try talking it out with someone who is objective, someone who can point out all of the flaws in your reasoning without hurting your feelings. Don’t give up. It’s easy to settle on something that is good enough, but don’t. Be patient and keep working on it until you find something that is perfect, something that you love.