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Choosing a title

HS Thomas
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Joined: May 15, 2002
Posts: 3404
Why do authors have working titles for pieces of work when quite obviously the right title at the start is a guide to what the work is all about ?
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Max Habibi
town drunk
( and author)

Joined: Jun 27, 2002
Posts: 4118
Because authors are neurotic and they can't commit.
Why else?

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HS Thomas
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Joined: May 15, 2002
Posts: 3404
Stylus Excalibur
C'mon, that says it all, doesn't it ?
Or is it like school essays where the writer rambles about how the parents are pains in the neck and why can't they be cool like the grandparents who are in their second mid life crises which any teen can relate to..
And summarily end the essay with how pay is related to quality. The title of the essay.(Well can't blame the teachers for trying to get recognition any way they can!).
[ April 21, 2004: Message edited by: HS Thomas ]
Ernest Friedman-Hill
author and iconoclast

Joined: Jul 08, 2003
Posts: 24199

The title of a book is not necessarily a guide to what the book is about at all; the title of a book is a marketing ploy to make you pick it up. I'm not talking about computer books, so much (although it happens there, too) but about mass-market stuff. The working title is what the writer puts down on the first page, before he's read the book. Believe it or not, writers don't have a whole book in their head before they sit down to write. Quite frequently, they make it up as they go along!
The final title is what he, and marketing execs, cook up to sell the completed work, after they've had a look at it.

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HS Thomas
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Joined: May 15, 2002
Posts: 3404
Up The Down Escalator
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The first two titles are perhaps as you say chosen by marketing guys. The last one is perhaps the working title which made it.
Mark Spritzler

Joined: Feb 05, 2001
Posts: 17276

I think Star Wars set the precedent when they were going to go with "Revenge of the Jedi" to "Return of the Jedi"
And we all know that most authors are Star Wars Geeks er fans.

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Michael Ernest
High Plains Drifter

Joined: Oct 25, 2000
Posts: 7292

The most common experience that runs across the books I have written has something to so with the idea of working titles. Usually I learn what it is I really wanted to say only by writing what, in retrospect, I thought I wanted to say.
In my early days of programming I thought was bringing that same trait to technical work as a matter of habit and idiosyncracy. Artsy-fartsy, touchy-feely me trying to insert creative angst into the land of specifications and deliverables and project management processes. Then I came across The Mythical Man-Month and this phrase, or something like it: "Plan one to throw away." The lessons that Brooks learned and explained were different, but the end result was the same: in large systems development projects, you end up "building one" just to figure out what the hell you're doing. Then you can concentrate on what you really wanted to build, or in my case, say.
So that's the refined dodge for answering the question. The naked truth is, writers can't commit. Somebody needs to talk to Max about leaving our writerly guts on the floor like that, though. Tsk, tsk, Max. You'll never earn your beret if you kiss-and-tell.
[ April 21, 2004: Message edited by: Michael Ernest ]

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Helen Thomas
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Joined: Jan 13, 2004
Posts: 1759
Select a workin title :
Mother Superior was on her way to late morning prayers, when she passed
two novices just leaving early morning prayers, on their way to classes.
As she passed the young ladies, Mother Superior said, "Good morning
The novices replied, "Good morning, Mother Superior, may God be with
you." But after they had passed, Mother Superior heard one say to the
other, "I think she got out of the wrong side of the bed this morning."
This startled Mother Superior, but she chose not to pursue the issue.
A little further down the hall, Mother Superior passed two of the
Sisters who had been teaching at the convent for several years. She
greeted them with, "Good morning Sister Martha, Sister Jessica, may God
give you wisdom for our students today."
"Good morning, Mother Superior. Thank you, and may God be with you." But
again, after passing, Mother Superior overheard, "She got out of the
wrong side of bed today."
Baffled, she started to wonder if she had spoken harshly, or with an
irritated look on her face. She vowed to be more pleasant.
Looking down the hall, Mother Superior saw retired Sister Mary
approaching, step by step, with her walker. As Sister Mary was rather
deaf, Mother Superior had plenty of time to arrange a pleasant smile on
her face, before greeting Sister Mary.
"Good morning, Sister Mary. I'm so happy to see you up and about. I pray
God watches over you today, and grants you a wonderful day."
"Ah, Good morning, Mother Superior, and thank you. I see you got upon
the wrong side of bed this morning."
Mother Superior was floored! "Sister Mary, what have I done wrong? I
have tried to be pleasant, but three times already today, people have
said that about me."
Sister Mary stopped her walker, and looked Mother Superior in the face.
"Oh, don't take it personal, Mother Superior. It's just that you're
wearing Father Murphy's slippers.
And a title from the marketing guys....
[ April 22, 2004: Message edited by: Helen Thomas ]

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"God who creates and is nature is very difficult to understand, but he is not arbitrary or malicious." OR "God does not play dice." - Einstein
I agree. Here's the link:
subject: Choosing a title
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