I know this is going to be an unpopular opinion with writers and people who love the english language in general, but I think Shakespeare was pretty awesome.
NO WAIT, HEAR ME OUT.
I mean this:
“What’s in a name? that which we call a rose, By any other name would smell as sweet;” – William Shakespeare
Guys, seriously, I think he was on to something with that! I find whenever I start working on a new story, I can’t do much with it until I have a name for it that I’m tolerable of. It needs a title, even if it’s just a working title. It also needs to be a title that captures the right mood, even if I know it needs to change in the future. I can’t write a pre-industrial adventure called Magic Beans. Okay, I probably could, but I’d most likely be unhappy with the title, and continually paw at it until it felt closer to the spirit of what I was trying to tell.
I tend to have an easier time with the names of characters and locations in my stories – they just spring up, as though that’s who and what they are, and it doesn’t require any input from me. Titles though, no. I did the same ridiculous posturing over the name of this blog, when someone said to me that it didn’t matter. It would either make a name for itself, or it wouldn’t, no matter what it was called. I could’ve called it “The Rowdy Pony” and blogged the same content I’ve done already, though the audience might’ve been a bunch of confused country and western enthusiasts.
For all I know, it still is.
Titles don’t necessarily convey much about the story anymore, either. Last sunday, I continued one of my 2012 trends by going to a bookfair. It was the last day, meaning that a lot of the books I might be interested in were already gone. There was a dearth of fantasy/sci-fi books, but (and I have to paraphrase – which means I have to exaggerate), there were a multitude of titles like “The Wolf Prince”, “Ice Planet” and “The Magical Dragon of Fantasy” that were instead about corporate espionage, politics, and burglary capers. You could just as easily do a sci-fi novel about flesh-eating nanobots called “The Last Rose of Winter”.
So, I have no advice on how to come up with a great title. Sometimes a phrase will leap out as you’re writing it and you will think “Wow, that’s amazing.”
Sometimes, you just have to stamp whatever comes to mind on your story, and keep writing anyway.