Working Titles (Giveaway at the bottom!)

Working Titles (Giveaway at the bottom!)

Three of Jane Austen’s novels were originally called First Impressions, Elinor and Marianne and Susan. Even if one didn’t know this before now, it’s not hard to connect the first two titles to Pride and Prejudice and Sense and Sensibility. Northanger Abbey must have been completely rewritten to have been Susan first, unless Mrs. Allen is secretly named Susan and Austen felt compelled to have a working title based on her (which seems unlikely), for there is no Susan in the book.

Jane Austen had working titles, but they weren’t needed in her time. She could keep all of her papers in one location. I imagine them being in a drawer or box. There didn’t need to be a name, until there was more than one novel. She could give something a title after it was completed, which makes it more likely that the title would be the permanent one. After all, it isn’t as if she could just delete the old title and type in a new one. A new title required a new page, ink and time to write it.

With computer files, we need working titles. You can’t save a file without one. I have a file in my computer labeled PP3. Because of the directory it is in, I know it’s something I wrote with my co-author, Summer Hanford. I would have to open the file to see what it is.

Our book Poor Mr. Darcy had a working title of Georgiana Wickham because the reader finds out in the prologue that Wickham’s elopement with Georgiana succeeded. It was never intended to be the title of the book. Poor Mr. Darcy is a better title, partly because some characters felt sorry for him and partly because he was pretending to be relatively poor.

Working titles are particularly necessary when working with a co-author and having more than one book in the works. Until a book receives a final title, we have to talk about it. Since we use email, we need something we can both understand without immediate clarification. Right now, Summer has my draft of something we’re calling Charlotte because Charlotte has a large role in the story. But the book isn’t about her, it’s about Elizabeth and Darcy. I’m working on something called Foiled Elopement as well. Anyone who has read Pride and Prejudice should have a pretty good idea of what the title refers to. Will it be our final title? Well, it is a lot better than Charlotte, so the answer is maybe.

Here is the scene that generated the working title Deathbed Proposal. However, the title you need to use to find it is Her Final Wish. On the day Darcy was planning to propose to Elizabeth, she received a letter saying her mother was very sick. Darcy brought her to Longbourn and came into the house with her.

Her Final Wish Excerpt

“[Jane] couldn’t get Mr. Bingley.” Her mother let out a little sob, tears leaking from the corners of her eyes. “She needs a rich husband who will support all of you. Your father didn’t take care of you. He should have saved. I told him again and again he needed to put aside something for you, but he didn’t.”

Elizabeth clasped her mother’s bony hand in hers, tears wetting her cheeks as well. That wasn’t how she remembered it. There were arguments about money, but always her mother wanted to spend and her father wanted to save. She shook her head, for what did that matter now? “We’ll be well, Mother,” she said, trying to infuse certainty into her tone.

Her mother finally turned to her and Elizabeth suppressed a gasp to see her pupils so large, they seemed to fill her eyes. She dragged her other hand across the sheets, her thin fingers scrambling at Elizabeth’s sleeve. “You must marry. Marry the first rich man you can find who will have you. Mr. Bennet says you’re the clever one. Find a husband and I can die in peace. Marry him as soon as possible. You must do this for me.”

“If I can,” Elizabeth said, squeezing the words past the harsh lump of pain clogging her throat. “I will do it.”

“Promise me you will,” her mother said. “Promise.”

Elizabeth nodded. “I will, Mama, I promise. If I can, I will,” she repeated, for she would have vowed most anything in that moment to bring her mother peace, especially something as unlikely as finding a rich man willing to wed her.

“You won’t,” her mother sobbed. “You won’t. You are contrary. Always contrary. You will see your sisters starve. Oh Lizzy, how can you let me die knowing you and your sisters will starve?” She started coughing, her breath coming in wheezing gasps.

Elizabeth clutched her mother’s hand tighter. How could she reassure her? She must settle her mother back down. Her mother needed to be calm, to rest. It was obvious her strength was nearly gone. In the flickering light, while rending coughs racking her frame, sweat blossomed on her mother’s pale face, mingling with her tears.

“Mama, I will, I will, I promise,” Elizabeth all but chanted. “Please, don’t worry. Please rest.”

With a shudder, her mother fell back against her pillows, so limp Elizabeth feared she was gone. Then she sucked in a shallow, sputtering breath. Wide eyes fixed on Elizabeth’s face once more. “All of my babies are going to die,” her mother sobbed in a small, keening wail.

“No, Mama, Jane will marry a rich man, and I shall try to as well, I swear to you.”

Mutely, her mother shook her head, tears making bright, candlelit trails down her otherwise dull cheeks.

“She will,” a deep, rich male voice said.

Elizabeth swiveled to see Mr. Darcy step away from the wall. He came to stand beside the chair in which she sat. She stared up at him, confused, having forgotten he was even there.

“Who is there? Who is it, Lizzy?”

Elizabeth turned back to find her mother squinting up at them, her ravaged features devoid of recognition, even though the candle now wrapped a small circle of light about the three of them.

Mr. Darcy leaned down, bringing his face alongside Elizabeth’s, so near she could feel the heat of him on her cheek. She was once again enveloped in his warm scent, so peacefully at odds with the purveying odor of her mother’s sickroom.

“It’s Mr. Darcy,” he said. “Elizabeth can marry a wealthy man who will provide for your daughters. I will marry her.”

Elizabeth struggled to control her surprise, focusing on maintaining a soothing facade for her mother. What was he saying? He turned slightly, his breath caressing her cheek, and gave an almost imperceptible nod. Elizabeth blinked, realizing he meant to pretend he would wed her, as a kindness to her mother. She was surprised he was willing to, even under so dire a circumstance. Suppose her mother recovered? It would be very embarrassing for him to explain that it wasn’t a real engagement. He was kinder than she’d imagined.

“Mr. Darcy?” her mother repeated in a whisper. A calmness seemed to settle over her. She sank deeper into the bed, the hand Elizabeth held going limp. “How wonderful. Mr. Darcy. You are going to marry my Lizzy?” Her mother sighed, her eyes fluttering closed. They slid back open a moment later, flickering to Mr. Darcy’s face. “Are you sure you wouldn’t prefer Jane? She’s prettier. And Lydia is more good-natured. Mary is more accomplished.”

“It is Elizabeth or no one,” Mr. Darcy said, the hint of a smile on his lips.

“And you promise to marry her?” Elizabeth’s mother pressed, her eyes drooping back closed.

“I promise to marry her.”

“And you, Lizzy? Will you be biddable this one time? Will you think of your sisters?”

Elizabeth had to lean forward to catch the words, they were spoken so softly. Fresh tears slid down her cheeks. “I promise to marry Mr. Darcy, Mama.”

“Then I can die. You won’t need me anymore.”

Which title do you think is better, Deathbed Proposal or Her Final Wish?

What are some fun working titles you’ve had that didn’t make it onto the final book?

Now, for the GIVEAWAY! To celebrate Her Final Wish, we’re giving away two Kindle copies!

To enter, just comment below. The GIVEAWAY will end at midnight EST on Thursday, February 23rd, 2017. Winners will be announced on Saturday, the 25th. 


80 Responses to Working Titles (Giveaway at the bottom!)

  1. This is on my wish list. I like the title that you chose because it is not as gloomy as “Deathbed” 🙂 The premise is great.

  2. Her Final Wish, because it is also Lizzie’s final wish to marry Mr. Darcy — and mine!! Any title with “deathbed” – too off-putting! (What is it with me and dashes today?!)

  3. Regardless of the title, this was already on my wishlist! I’d love to win a copy. ‘Deathbed Proposal’ implies a certain amount of angst, which you know that we all love!

    • Reviewers say our books our low on angst, but there has to be some, or there is no story. Let me see. E. did this and it was wonderful; D did that and it made everyone happy. That’s boring.

  4. I prefer Her Final Wish – it gives the title an air of mystery – you need to read the book to find out the wish. The only problems with the excerpt is that I am now hooked and need to buy the book to find out what happens as we all know the path to true love never runs smooth for Elizabeth and Darcy.

  5. Her Final Wish, but it sounds like you’ve already decided! Looking forward to discovering what happened before this scene took place. I also like the artwork on the cover.

  6. I like “Her Final Wish” as it sounds like something Mrs. Bennet would say; the title adds a dash of drama and humor at the same time.

  7. I like ‘Her Final Wish.’ It sounds more delicate, elegant, hopeful, than the other choice. I love that you made a Kindle version your prize, as I just received one as a gift. Haven’t a clue how to use it, but it would be lovely, if I were so lucky, to christen it with your tale of Darcy and Lizzy… how fun. Thanks so much for the opportunity, and good luck with sales! Karylee

    • You’ll love having a kindle, especially if you travel. I like such features as the ability to look up words and the fact that my kindle means I don’t have to add more bookshelves.

    • I have my kindle app on my phone as well as on my computer, my Kindle and my tablet so I always have something with which to read and I can sync the story’s page between each so I am not trying to remember where I am as I switch devices.

  8. I prefer Her Final Wish. Definitely. I was just checking this out on Amazon and have added it to my wish list so winning a copy would be lovely. Thanks for the opportunity. I don’t write myself and struggle to come up with titles when asked, although when I see what was chosen it just seems so obvious. Thanks for the excerpt.

  9. I prefer the title you kept. Incidentally, this was one of my favorites of your books. Since I already read it, no need to enter me for the giveaway!

  10. Wow, this is going to be interesting! How much will LIzzy insult Darcy before the end? I definitely think you chose the right title!

    • Hi Lynn,

      I’m glad you enjoyed the excerpt 🙂 I’m glad we chose that title too. In all honestly, we were only leaning toward it slightly over the other. Maybe we just got used to calling it Deathbed while we were working. It is a bit grim, isn’t it?

  11. I like “Her Final Wish.” And, incidentally, I love the concept of this book! Most “Elizabeth’s parent dies” stories focus on her father. This one is an interesting twist.

    • This comes in after about 10% of the book. The book starts in Rosings and we had to get Darcy and Elizabeth to Longbourn and establish Darcy’s interest in Elizabeth and Elizabeth’s dislike of Darcy.

  12. ‘Her Final Wish’ sounds better to me as well. ‘Deathbed Proposal’ could be off-putting. Please, do not count me in the giveaway, I’ve already bought the book. 🙂

    • Thank you for buying the book. You shouldn’t back out of the contest, because the way the gift is given, Amazon allows you to use the money for something else. (I shouldn’t be telling you this.)

  13. Ironically, I just read and reviewed this book yesterday. I like the title you have. I enjoyed the story. Darcy was such an over-the-top hero for more than just Elizabeth in this book.

  14. I love deathbed proposal in its own morbid way but not as a final title. I believe it would be passed over for Her Final Wish. Looking forward to reading. Thank you for the giveaway.

  15. I like Her Final Wish as it could be expanded to include more people than just Mrs. Bennett. Does Darcy mean it? Is he humoring Mrs. Bennett to comfort her? What will Elizabeth do? Thank you for the excerpt and the giveaway. It is amazing how both writers can collaborate on jointly writing books.

  16. Lovely excerpt. I would choose “Her Final Wish.” Like Anji says above, Deathbed Proposal would be too depressing. I would never choose to read it simply because of the title.

  17. Her Final Wish is definitely the better title. I enjoyed the excerpt; can’t wait to read this book. Thank you for the chance to win a copy.

  18. Her Final Wish is by far the better title for me. It carries a hint of mystery about it as we don’t know who’s wish it is until we read the blurb, assuming that info is in the blurb, Deathbed Proposal sounds so gloomy and foreboding and a little off-putting, to be honest.

    Regarding Jane Austen’s own naming of her works, or working titles, I read recently that the lovely fragment we all know and love as Sanditon was supposedly going to be called The Brothers. It was renamed Sanditon by her family when it was eventually published some time after her passing.

    • I read the fragment years ago and wished Jane Austen lived long enough to finish it. I should reread it, since I don’t remember much of it and even if I did, every rereading of Jane Austen’s work is enjoyable.

  19. I like Her Final Wish best. I would imagine choosing a title would be very difficult. You have to convey so much in so few words. I like where the story is going.

Comments are precious!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.