Which Comes First: the Story or the Title?

When writing, do you typically come up with a title first or write the story and name it later on?

For me it depends on the story. My very first novel still doesn’t have a title that I’m happy with even though I wrote it years ago. Not that I’m still trying to come up with a title for it, but I did for a long time. I went through a few different working titles before settling on Dawn of Darkness, more out of a desperation to settle on something than any satisfaction with that title. However, since that novel isn’t likely to see the light of day without massive (and I mean MASSIVE) rewrites, I’m not too worried about it.

I came up with the titles for two of my other novel in the midst of writing or revising them. My latest novel, however, has worked out differently. This time I came up with the title first and it was the title that inspired the story. I knew I was going to write a music-themed mystery so I jotted down a bunch of music-related words and phrases and when I wrote down what was to become my title I was like, “THAT’S IT!!!” And the story grew from there.

So for me it changes from story to story. Sometimes the story inspires the title and sometimes the title inspires the story.

When and how do you come up with titles for your stories?