Shawn L. Bird

Original poetry, commentary, and fiction. All copyrights reserved.

title as theme September 28, 2011

When my high school English students are struggling to figure out the theme of a novel they are exploring, I always suggest that they take a good look at the title.  Most of the time, the title distils the essential element of the story.  This is certainly the case in each book of the Grace Awakening series.

Apparently I’m not the only one who thinks this way.  According to Poynter, in 1962 songwriter Johnny Mercer was asked whether lyrics or music begin the songwriting process for him.  He replied,

First — the title. That encompasses the grand idea, the crux of the obsession, the thought; it all goes into that … that’s what hits first, that’s what’s way back in your mind brought together in sharp focus; the title hits like a bullet, and if it’s right, then you have it, all of it, ready to go, in a succinct package — all the crazy, unconscious groping has merged into something real. … A title sends me. Is it the title that comes first? Or is it all of the inside of you that has produced the title, and suddenly you recognize it, and you think there it is — and from there you go. When a title occurs — I have begun.

I have to say that when I began Grace Awakening, I had the feelings conveyed in youthful poetry and some nostalgia.  I started writing about the feeling and imagining a scenario that went with it, but it wasn’t long before Grace introduced herself, and once she had, the title arrived soon after.  The feeling scene that started the book was edited out rather early on, as Grace herself pulled the story in a different way than I originally intended, but from the first week, Grace awakened to herself, and her dreams held the key.



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