"Year of the Adopted Family" book release

Monday, November 3, 2008

Trek (7 of 7): Which Title Inspires You?

If ever you want to expand your mind, then there is someone you must talk with: Dr. Marsha D. Broadway.

This is seven of seven posts relating to my info-gathering trek to BYU on October 21, 2008.

When I wrote my Honors Thesis "Transformation of the Storyteller's Identity and Role Through the American Storytelling Movement", Marsha was my thesis adviser. As one of the founders of the Utah Storytelling Guild, she had inside knowledge of the storytelling community as well as intense English and grammar skills. To this day, she is the Head Juvenile Literature Librarian in the Harold B. Lee Library at Brigham Young University (see above picture).

I could not have had a better adviser.

While on the BYU campus, I was anxious to hear any questions she would ask about the project. Any question would be her way to open my mind rather than purely out of curiosity.

Marsha read my title and description and wondered, "Why did you call it 'Family Famine: Hunger for Love' rather than 'Family Feast: A Hunger for Love'"?

Her point was that the "famine" choice had a more negative or pessimistic view.

I could not answer for a while. I always thought of myself as an optimist. When I had asked friends and family to vote for a title in 2005, "Family Feast" was not even an option. Yet, the word "feast" was a word used within the description.

When I met with Elizabeth Ellis, one of my East Tennessee State University professors, to discuss "My Finest Hour" project, I shared the title "Family Famine: Hunger for Love". Her immediate reaction was "oooooooooo." If ever I had questions or doubts regarding the title, they vanished after that response.

Yet, here I was with Marsha and questions poured into me.

She did not mean to ask the question with the attitude of "Why would you ever. . .". She sincerely asked "Why?"

Finally, I created lists of the "why" for "Family Famine" and for "Family Feast".

Reasons to use "Family Famine: Hunger for Love":
  • Program would eventually delve into the dark side of family life such as abuse and abandonment (though would begin and end with the light side)
  • Goal to have 12-year-olds+ in attendance and "too happy" of a title could confuse others to think it was a family show for all ages
  • Center story "Forsaken Brother" has a moment when famine/hunger is experienced
  • Blog and Facebook support group are entitled "Family Famine: Hunger for Love"
Reasons to use "Family Feast: A Hunger for Love":
  • Program does begin and end with the light side of family relationships
  • College students may feel more inclined when there sounds like the possibility of food at an event (and they are one of the main target audiences)
  • Light refreshment will be served afterward to reflect the theme
  • Focus on end result from performance versus "famine" mood in center of program
  • Survey with friends so far has this title in the lead for "which program would you be more likely to attend?"
If nothing else, the "Family Famine: Hunger for Love" could be perfect for a book title. For something deeper and darker, a person could always set the book down and come back to it when ready. Thus, a more "negative" title tends to work better for books. However, a live performance does not necessarily give that option.

Most of my programs tend to have the first word be the most important word. In this case, it is "family".

There is also the possibility that both "Family Famine" and "Family Feast" could be used interchangeably and advertising could reflect opposite images to the words. For example, the flies and posters for "Family Famine" would show plenty of food while the "Family Feast" would reflect the lack of food.

Please share which one of these titles you would be more inclined to attend?--
  • "Family Famine: Hunger for Love"
  • "Family Feast: A Hunger for Love"
  • "Feast or Famine: Hunger for Love"
  • "Family Feast or Famine: A Hunger for Love"
Until we tell again,

Rachel Hedman
Professional Storyteller
Former Co-Chair of Youth, Educators, and Storytellers Alliance (2005-2008)
Tel: (801) 870-5799
Email: info@rachelhedman.com
Performance Blog: http://familyfamine.blogspot.com
Other places to find me: Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, LinkedIn, Professional Storyteller


LauraZ said...

Rachel- Of all the titles, the one that interests me the most is "Family Feast or Famine: Hunger for Love." With this title I envision a collection of stories that love is the focal point and how important love is to a family (whatever that family may be).
I have enjoyed reading of your adventures with this project and am excited to see how it all plays out!

Professional Storyteller Rachel Hedman said...

Dear Laura:

I can always count on you for your thoughts. Thank you!

Remember that I want to hear your adventures, too. Will you have a blog dedicated to your project?

Until we tell again,

Rachel Hedman

Rivka said...


I would most likely go to "Family Feast or Famine: Hunger for Love." Family Famine: Hunger for Love" would attract me if I was in a dark mood--or hungry for a Becket play. Family Feast or Famine....hints to rays of light. Rivka

Professional Storyteller Rachel Hedman said...

Dear Rivka:

Thank you. I guess I didn't realize the "darkness" of the title until Marsha asked me "why". It may have been my way of insuring the program would not be of fluff.

I enjoy your thoughts.

Until we tell again,

Rachel Hedman

Debra Olson-Tolar said...

Hi Rachel,

To me, "Family Famine: Hunger for Love" indicates that we are hungry for love and our families don't always supply it. I would expect stories about families that fail at nurturing near the beginning of the program and stories about families that succeed (and provide inspiration) as the program ended.

When I think about "Family Feast: Hunger for Love" I envision a program about people looking for love and stories about finding it within their families.

So my question to you is, what's your overall "message" (I hesitate to use that term)?

Don't know if any of that helps . . . just my take on it!

Best wishes,

Professional Storyteller Rachel Hedman said...

Dear Debra:

Perhaps that is part of the reason I am having problems with the title. I will share stories that do not end happily, though they will be in the middle.

Yet, I would like the audience to leave with hope.

I understand the fear to use the word "message" as I hope the audience will take what they will from the program rather than some forced agenda on my part. Perhaps it is more "What feeling would you like the audience to go home with?"


Until we tell again,

Rachel Hedman

Professional Storyteller Rachel Hedman said...

Dear Debra:

Question for you then--which title would you--personally--be more inclined to attend?

(not considering what I want from the program)

Until we tell again,

Rachel Hedman

Professional Storyteller Rachel Hedman said...

When I did a quick survey with the Utah Storytelling Guild Olympus Chapter, almost all of them opted for "Family Famine: Hunger for Love".

They said it had a rhythm to the title. They may have also heard me talk about it so much that they may be attached to it even if others would vote another way with the title.

The guild members also said that if I wanted to add "hope" to the title, I could have a subheading.

I'm not sure what that subheading would be though maybe something like:
* After the famine comes the feast
* Come with an appetite for stories (this may be too cheezy)

In my description, my last line is "You are welcome to the table". That could work--maybe.

Until we tell again,

Rachel Hedman

Br. Daniel said...

Hi Rachel,

I remember my initial response to the title "Family Famine:
Hunger for Love." It hit me square in the gut, exactly what I
want! The title is not sugar coated, but it doesn't sound
cynical either. In fact, it seems quite opaque, which is an
advantage, since it doesn't 'give away' the plot or punch-
line. But it's not superficial either. It seems you could tell a number of different kinds of stories and be true to the title. Personally, I think you've already got a winner!


Professional Storyteller Rachel Hedman said...

Dear Br. Daniel:

Thank you for your response. I am pleased that you already think the title "Family Famine: Hunger for Love" is a "winner".

I recently reserved a venue and I had to put down a title with the contract. I did, in the end, go with "Family Famine: Hunger for Love".

Towards the end I received more affirmations for "Family Famine" and it gave the confidence to stick with the original title.

Until we tell again,

Rachel Hedman