How ChatGPT Wrote My Book Title

From Writer Unboxed:

Book titles are important. Writing them isn’t easy. With several working titles for my novel already on the scrap heap, I was ready for a new approach. Could ChatGPT, a text-generating algorithm, suggest new ideas for titles that I’d like and others would love?

Let’s find out.

Step one: Log in to OpenAI, access ChatGPT, and begin a New Chat.

Step two: Instruct ChatGPT to use a 500-word synopsis that I would provide to generate titles for a novel.

Step three: Copy-paste my synopsis and press Enter.

Six hours and 1,800 ChatGPT-generated titles later, I had 23 “maybe” ideas, including one—”The Wind Lords’ Curse”—that I especially liked and that caught the interest of my critique group, too.

Would I advise other authors to try this method to generate a book title? Short answer: yes. Using ChatGPT for this purpose was frustrating, time-consuming, and annoying. But trying to come up with more title idea on my own was also frustrating and time-consuming, if perhaps not as annoying. And, I ended up with a new title that I might never have thought of without ChatGPT’s suggestion. True, the title came from my synopsis, but it wasn’t word for word, and it didn’t actually take six hours and 1,800 titles for ChatGPT to suggest it. In fact, it was among the first thirty or so titles that came up after I provided the synopsis.

What did I learn from this exercise?

The most important lesson was that ChatGPT requires very specific instructions and it will follow those instructions exactly as they’re given, or it will find sneaky ways to sidestep the instructions, or it will completely ignore the instructions, sometimes repeatedly, and do its own thing.

Example 1: Zephyrs

My novel is about wind and weather. Early on, ChatGPT suggested multiple titles that contained the word “zephyr.” A fine word, perhaps, but one I didn’t want to use, so I added an instruction: “Do not use the word ‘zephyr’ in the titles.”

Yet still, the zephyrs continued. Before long, I had quite a collection: “Zephyr’s Journey,” “Zephyr’s Whispers,” “Zephyr’s Chorus,” “Zephyr’s Lament,” “Breath of the Eolian Zephyrs,” “Whispering Zephyrs,” “Echoes of the Zephyr,” “Chasing the Zephyr,” “Embracing Zephyrs of Transformation,” “Serenade of the Luminous Zephyrs,” and many more.

When I (temporarily) convinced ChatGPT not to give me any more titles with the word “zephyr,” it suggested “The Zephyrian Conundrum” and “Zephyrus’ Lament.”


With a new instruction, “Do not use words that begin with the letter ‘z’ in the titles,” the zephyrs continued, though they weren’t as numerous. Altogether, the first 1,800 titles that ChatGPT generated included 82 (4.5%) with some form of the word “zephyr.”

Example 2: Colons

Early on, most of the titles ChatGPT generated contained either two or three words. None of the titles contained only one word. When I asked the algorithm to generate longer titles, it became obsessed with using colons to add length to its suggestions.

Show of hands, please. Would anyone like to read a novel titled: “Solstice’s Serenade: Unveiling the Winds,” “Galeforge Chronicles: The Winds of Destiny,” or “Zephyr’s Chorus: A Symphony of Weather”?


Me neither.

When I added another instruction, “Do not use colons in the titles,” the algorithm generated the exact same list of titles as its previous response, only with dashes substituted for the colons. Try again? Commas.

The instruction, “Do not include any punctuation marks in the titles,” convinced the algorithm to generate suggestions without colons, dashes or commas, but it added a snide little warning: “Please note that without punctuation marks, the clarity and readability of the titles may be slightly affected.” As if anyone could, with the help of a comma, fall in love with a book title like “Echoes through Canopy’s Embrace Secrets of Nature’s Breath.”

And still, colons continued to appear, possibly because they’re so common in nonfiction titles. Final count in 1,800 titles: 182 (10%) had colons.

Link to the rest at Writer Unboxed

4 thoughts on “How ChatGPT Wrote My Book Title”

  1. Yes, but… If I can feed in entire books or series of mine and ask for variations on ad copy or image prompts, I can see value in that.

    Can’t do it yet, but eventually…

Comments are closed.