“In the beginning was the word…”
In this case, the word is “THE.” Yup, I know. I sound like that ‘who’s-on-first’ Vaudeville sketch. This is a different story, and it’s the story of the title for my upcoming book, a historic novel for middle grades. (And all ages, she said.)
This is a story of impending war, and two girls who listen, clandestinely, to a radio station broadcast by the enemy. The name of this station is The Voice of Thunder from Cairo. This part is not only historic, it’s true. In Israel just before the Six-Day War there was such a station and I did listen to it, much to my mother’s chagrin.
When I submitted my novel to the publisher, I titled it The Voice of Thunder. After the initial joy of acceptance, I noted that the editor referred to it as Voice of Thunder, minus one ‘the.’ There was nothing official about the change of title, the first word,‘the,’ just wasn’t there.
I know publishers often change titles. I was happy to have three-quarters of my title still there. I was happy, period.
Working with the editors has been eye-opening and mind-expanding. I’ve loved it. (I also shed a few tears, and produced some sweat, but no blood. It is called ‘work’ for a reason.) I did notice that my book got listed on the publisher’s site first as Voice of Thunder, then, inexplicably, as The Voice of Thunder, and back to Voice of Thunder.
Looking over the final line-edits, the first ‘THE’ was back. I mentioned to my editor that I still liked the original, and she concurred. The web-site still has the three-word title, the typeset book has the four-word title.
One poor THE is dangling. It knows not where its place is, or if it is.
This saga has got me thinking about writers’ tools. Paragraphs made of sentences made of words. Every word counts. Even a lowly ‘the.’
Because in all deference to John 1:1- not only the beginning, but the middle, the end and the title is the word.