Inside Story: The Title Diet


Teenager Not Playing Video Games


My Writing Teacher warned us not to waste calories worrying about titles for our books.  Editors replace working titles–in a heartbeat–at the appropriate time.  Nonetheless, I secretly wasted calories worrying about titles.  I burned calories I could have used writing a sequel.  

FYI:  Title Worry consumes the same number of calories as enforcing time limits on Xbox players.          

I descended into title madness between 3 and 4 am on select nights, generating a vast graveyard of titles too embarrassing to exhume.  Example:  DITCHED BY JANE AUSTEN which I submitted to Editor before First Reader was awake one morning.  Sadly, some of my working titles came within a mere word of the winning title but I couldn’t close the gap, as if my synapses weren’t quite up to the challenge.  Was this a symptom of a deeper affliction?  An inability to grasp the meaning of the 90,000 words I’d spent five years writing?    

Both Agent and Editor referred to my book by randomly choosing a word from the working title collection and writing it in ALL CAPS.  Sometimes Agent called it MANSFIELD PARK.  Sometimes Editor simply called it JANE.  And then one day Editor said, “I keep thinking of this book as THE SUMMER OF MY JANE AUSTEN.”  Taught by my Writing Teacher to eliminate excess articles and needless words, I regrouped and said, “What about MY JANE AUSTEN SUMMER?”  High concept with a hint of irony.   

I burned exactly .0395 calories fueling the two heartbeats that helped nail the title.  About the same caloric demand of shooting one video game zombie.  But the calories I wasted on Title Worry would feed an Xbox party of four for the rest of the summer.  I guess I shouldn’t worry about it.  

NEXT BLOG:  My Novel Picks Up a Subtitle


Filed under Agent, aging synapses, Editor, First Reader (aka Husband), My Jane Austen Summer, My Writing Teacher said..., teenagers, Writing Nightmares

3 responses to “Inside Story: The Title Diet

  1. jlspsi

    I burned a few calories thinking up titles for your novel, too. How come I’m not skinny? In fact, I woke up from a dream with title for your novel. “Wasting” time thinking up titles is better than computer solitaire, something the devil invented to keep folks from writing. Besides, there’s that delusion that if you come up with the perfect catchy title some agent will generalize it to the entire novel and send a contract and a big fat check posthaste. Or is that post haste? “Over 50” writers who could once spell really well (me) are finding that they no longer can and if you have dyslexia (me) host paste looks correct too… BTW, setting limits for children and electronics actually adds calories… it drives one to drink alcohol which is replete with calories. And that’s one cute teenager in the photo.

    • Jana, I’m going to write another whole blog memorializing family, friends, and writing partners who lost sleep, patience, or their mind in the epic search for my title, host paste. And he is a really cute teenager.

      • jlspsi

        I didn’t even catch “host paste” at first. Such a funny lady you are (said in my best Yoda accent). That’s funny ha ha in this case.

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