The Straight Dope on “Entitled” vs. “Titled”

“The Straight Dope” highlights common grammatical errors—so you can stop looking dopey when you do these things incorrectly. 🙂

Please note: Unless otherwise specified, these are the proper grammar and formatting rules according to Chicago style—the style in which you should be writing, if you’re writing fiction—and some nonfiction.  (So don’t give me a laundry list of reasons why some other way is correct. It *might be*, in AP style or APA style or MLA formatting . . . but that’s not what I’m talking about here.)

This is actually one I got a request to do*—which is funny because it’s one that’s been nagging me a lot lately, since I have nothing else to worry about (sarcasm).

THE PROBLEM

Okay, so I’m seeing a lot of instances where people are using “entitled” when I think it should be “titled.” What’s the difference?  And what’s correct??

I consulted a number of sources** on this one because I like these “Straight Dopes” to be as black and white as possible.

Unfortunately, however, this one is pret-ty hairy.  I hate that!  It also contradicts what I formerly got all snootastic about—and, of course, I don’t like that either!

But, being that it’s so confusing, it’s def worth the discussion.

ENTITLED

In a general sense, ENTITLED is a transitive verb* that means something or someone has been given a right or a claim to something.

*Sorry to get all grammar geek on you with “transitive verb,” but that basically means (in this sense), it’s used as in: X entitles you to Y.  A transitive verb requires that there’s both an object and a direct object—and that they both have a relationship with the verb.

In normal-people English: something/someone is being entitled and something is being entitled to something else.

Make sense?  Ish?

Example:

     Since you didn’t sign a pre-nup, you are entitled to half your spouse’s earnings. 

(DISCLAIMER: I’m no lawyer—it’s just an example!)

Back to grammar-geek speak for a minute: You is the thing BEING entitled—and your spouse’s earnings is the thing being entitled TO something.

But I digress.

Okay, so, here’s the part I don’t like.  According to all these sources, ENTITLED is also the past tense of a verb that means to give a name or title to.

Translation: The following are technically correct.

     She finished her book, which was entitled 10 Things I Hate About Sue.

     I should have entitled this post “Entitled vs. Titled—Prepare to Have Your Minds Blown.”

Ew, I know.  I can hardly believe I’m saying it!!

TITLED

TITLED is an adjective that means having a title—especially a noble title.

     Sir Elton John and Dame Judy Dench are both titled individuals.

To make this even more confusing, TITLED is also the past tense of the verb TITLE (duh), which means to provide a title for or to designate or call by a title.

So that means the following are *also* technically correct:

     She finished her book, which was titled 10 Things I Hate About Sue.

     I should have titled this post “Entitled vs. Titled—Prepare to Have Your Minds Blown.”

AHH! *hides*

WHAT HAVE WE LEARNED? *scratches head*

Basically, you can’t go wrong.  I mean, you *can*—not all of the uses of these two words are synonymous—but in the sense of what we’re trying to clear up, you really can’t.

THE GOOD NEWS: If you’re one of those who feels like “entitled” should only be used in the You forgot our anniversary, so I am entitled to foot massages for life sense and “titled” should only be used when referring to actually giving a title to something sense, you’re not wrong.  You’re perfectly within your right—you’re entitled (see what I did there?)—to keep using those words that way.

THE BAD NEWS: You can’t be snarky about people using “entitled” the way you don’t like it, because they are also correct.

ADVICE

Grammar Girl puts it nicely when she says that going simple is almost always better.  (But I’ll admit, I like that in part because, in saying that, she suggests “titled” is simpler than “entitled”—fewer letters—and that jibes with my preferred method.)

Better still? Her suggestion of avoiding the confusion altogether by not even using those words—or by rewording the sentence.

     She finished her book, 10 Things I Hate About Sue.

     I should have called this post “Entitled vs. Titled—Prepare to Have Your Minds Blown.”

There you have it, my friends.  Snark responsibly.

*Have a suggestions for a “Straight Dope” post?  Shoot me an e-mail (ricki [at] rickischultz [dot] com)!

**Merriam-Webster, Dictionary.com, Purge Your Prose of Problems: A Book Doctor’s Desk Reference (Bobbie Christmas), and The Grammar Devotional: Daily Tops for Successful Writing from Grammar Girl (Mignon Fogarty)

Pointers from the Pros: Art Director Kristen Nobles Talks Picture Books

Pointers from the Pros” gives tips from authors and publishing industry professionals on everything from craft to querying to their experiences on the road to publication.*

I attended the 2011 SCBWI MD/DE/WV’s Spring into Action conference in Buckeystown, Md., with some of my favorite-evers. As usual, I took a ton of notes at all the faboo sessions I was lucky enough to attend—and I’m sharing some of those tips with my lovely blog readers. (Thanks for being so fabulous, BTW!)

Here are some of Candlewick Press art director Kristen Nobles‘s tips from her session, “Thinking Visually: The Illustrator as Illuminator”:

WHAT’S SHE LOOKING FOR IN A SUBMISSION?

Professionalism*

  • Be clean & neat
  • Respect your work
  • Be organized & timely
  • Be collaborative
  • Be communicative
  • Be confident
  • If you’re unpubbed, don’t send her proposals every week—quarterly or seasonally is a good rule of thumb—you have to edit yourself

Technical Proficiency*

  • Master your medium
  • Don’t send work in a technique you’ve just learned
  • Be comfortable in your style
  • Remember: the quality of your craft is important
  • Learn composition!  Think about it in terms of pages—how it will look on a page
  • take classes—and if you don’t have an art degree, give yourself assignments & deadlines

Appropriateness*

  • Your work should speak to children
  • Should transport children to another world

*they expect you to bring these things to the table—the rest, they’ll work with you on

OTHER MUST HAVES

  • Characters should have unique personalities
  • You must make a character recognizable throughout the entire book—multiple renderings must look the same
  • You must be able to draw the same character from many different POVs—must look the same
    • A lot of times, the characters will always be wearing the same clothes/hairstyles throughout series (for consistency’s sake)
  • Pages should end in cliffhangers—not just the words, but also the pictures

QUESTIONS TO HELP YOU DEVELOP YOUR STYLE

  • What is your passion? Your interest? (If you examine these things, it can be an outlet for how your story, your characters will stand out)
  • What’s NOT out there? What HASN”T been done?
  • What new style, medium, or perspective can you contribute?

For a complete recap of the conference, see author Laura Bowers’s post here.

If You Missed the WB Live Chat on Plotters & Pantsers . . .

March 22, the Write-Brained Network hosted its March live chat.  The topic?  Plotter or  Pantser—Where Are You?

The gist . . .

This topic didn’t yield a full hour’s worth of conversation, but it was a great turnout and so much fun to chat with people in real time!  And we found other things to discuss. 😉

First, some working definitions:

Plotter—one who outlines before writing

Pantser—one who “flies by the seat of his pants” when writing

Basically, we went around and discussed our processes, and I’d say it was pretty much split between those who use at least a broad method of outlining (i.e., they have a rough idea of where their story is going) and those who are true “pantsers.”

We also talked about authors who claim to be one or the other (Stephen King, Meg Cabot & Annie Dillard have all said they’re pantsers, and we had a bit of a debate as to whether or not we really believe it).

RESOURCES

Those who plot shared some of their plotting techniques as well as helpful plotting books:

  • Save the Cat: The Last Book on Screenwriting That You’ll Ever Need (Blake Snyder)

*Click here for more STC-related resources

  • First Draft in 30 Days (Karen S. Wiesner)
    • One Write-Brainiac is currently working on this, and at least one other has used it in the past.
    • Basically, here’s what it looks like*:
      • Days 1-6 Preliminary Outline (character/sketching/plot sketches and summary outline)
      • Days 7-13 Research
      • Days 14-15 Evolution of the Story
      • Days 16-24 Formatted Outline
      • Days 25-28 Evaluating the Outline’s Strength
      • Days 29-30 Revising the Outline

*Here’s a more detailed overview

OTHER SUGGESTED READING

  • I was fortunate enough to hear one of our Write-Brained Network workshop speakers, author David L. Robbins, speak in June 2010 at the Southeastern Writers Association conference on the very subject of plotting.  He warns not to do it too thoroughly, as the story will not unfold as it should (recordative vs. recollective writing).  He recommends what he calls “baseball writing.”

Here’s the write-up I did on his session.

  • Write-Brainiac and upcoming young adult author, the Diana-Fox-repped Cristin Terrill, is participating in A Round of Words in 80 Days, where she plans to write a book in said amount of days (sort of like NaNoWriMo, but with more wiggle room).

Check out her post on the topic here.

  • Not really plotting-related, but Annie Dillard’s The Writing Life was suggested as a must-read for all writers.

Want in?  Join us April 26 from 9-10 p.m. EST for our next WB Live Chat!  Topic: Poetry Panel.

Pointers from the Pros: Editor Marilyn Brigham Offers Insight into the Editor’s Eye

Pointers from the Pros” gives tips from authors and publishing industry professionals on everything from craft to querying to their experiences on the road to publication.*

I attended the 2011 SCBWI MD/DE/WV’s Spring into Action conference in Buckeystown, Md., with some of my favorite-evers. As usual, I took a ton of notes at all the faboo sessions I was lucky enough to attend—and I’m sharing some of those tips with my lovely blog readers. (Thanks for being so fabulous, BTW!)

Here are some of Marshall Cavendish editor Marilyn Brigham’s tips from her session, “The Editor’s Eye: Powerful Word Choice & Sentence Structure”:

WHAT TO LOOK FOR WHEN REVISING

  • Repetition
    • Of words or phrases (betas & crit partners can be of great help with this)
    • Single word repeated on the same page or in the same paragraph (this is what she finds to be the most common)
    • Search for these words in particular, which she says tend to be repeated a lot:
      • just
      • then
      • so
      • anyway
      • even
      • but
      • really
      • very
    • “Echoed” words can be a repetitive too:
      • unfair, unfairness
      • though, although
      • like, dislike
    • Other tired phrases:
      • of course
      • I was like
      • I couldn’t help but wonder
    • You can repeat ideas as well—remember: don’t hit your readers over the head with it
  • Adult language
    • It depends what is appropriate for the book, age group, story, etc.
    • Be on the lookout for out-of-date language/stuff that makes it sound like an adult writing for kids (i.e., HUNK vs. HOTTIE or “Being with Mike is WONDERFUL” = meh—find a more kid-friendly way to say it)
    • Sometimes you should bring it down & sometimes you should elevate it
  • Clichés
    • Just don’t!
  • Clutter
    • Adverbs!  (most are unnecessary—if you choose a stronger verb, you render the adverbs redundant)
    • Here’s why:

“The radio blared loudly.”

Blared is strong enough a verb on its own.  It’s redundant with the adverb loudly.

  • Too many adjectives!
    • This is what we call “purple prose”
    • It speaks down to the reader
  • Unnecessary prepositions:

“Slowed down traffic”

When you’re slowing something, the “down” is implied.

WHAT CAN YOU ADD TO MAKE YOUR WRITING STRONGER?

  • Take cues from the genre
    • In a book about soccer, use a metaphor that relates to soccer—it adds flavor:

“I danced around like I won the World Cup.”

  • Take cues from the narrator
    • What would the narrator notice?
    • How would he or she say it?
  • Use parallel structure in some sentences—it can add extra punch:

I came. I saw. I conquered.

  • Use active voice:

Passive: The letter way mailed by dad.

Active: Dad mailed the letter.

WHAT IS MARKETABLE RIGHT NOW?

  • In YA: dystopian
  • In picture books: “Going to sleep” books”
  • In all of juvenile lit: perennial subjects

For a complete recap of the conference, see author Laura Bowers’s post here.

 

In the Blogosphere: 3/14-3/25

“In the Blogosphere” is a series, which lists links to writing-related blogs I’ve stumbled upon throughout a given week (usually).

I’m making one of my resolutions to be better with these blogosphere posts.  *Well, I’m trying, but I’ve been reallllllly busy!* I’ve saved a lot of great stuff, though, and it’s all definitely worth a read.

HOW-TOs

Are you in query hell right now? Author Shawn Klomparens offers five easy steps to writing a query letter in this guest post on Writer Unboxed.

If you need more help in snagging an agent, check out Trans/plant/portation’s thoughts on the subject: maybe break some rules.

Okay, so what if that’s not the problem—what if you’re just Procrastination Patty (or Paul) these days? Here, Christine MacDonald gives six tips on getting back on track—applicable to any field, really.

So, now that you’ve signed with an agent and an editor snapped up your book in a major deal, it’s time to start planning your release party. W00t! Here’s author Jody Hedlund’s advice.

Pepper . . . I mean, Procrastination Patty. "Let's go shopping for flip-flops!"

CRAFT

We hear it all the time, but it’s important enough to revisit—all the time.  Here, Kidlit.com’s Mary Kole talks about specificity in setting.

And what’s a great setting without great characters?  TotallytheBomb.com’s Jamie Harrington says compelling characters come from what you, the author, know.

If you’re feeling a little sketchville on how to get to know your characters, fear not. The awesomesauce ladies of Adventures in Children’s Publishing have laid it all out for you in terms of Goal, Motivation, Conflict, and Tension.

BETAS, CPS & FRESH EYES—OH MY!

If you feel a case of writer-brain coming on, author Julie Ann Lindsey suggests you get a critique partner.  Lord knows mine have saved my sanity life on more than one occasion!

But how do you go about being a GOOD crit partner or beta reader?  YA Highway to the rescue!*

*Not just applicable to YA writers.

RESOURCES

TONS of my writing friends are passing their time and trying to increase their platforms by submitting short stories to anthologies.  But where does one go to find such markets? On Nick Daws‘ Writing Blog (Bob Loblaw’s Law Blog?), Nick himself lists seven of the top resources for that very purpose. Thanks, Nick!

This was originally intended for NaNoWriMo, back in November. However, as many writing friends seem to be getting over their winter freeze and jumping into new projects, here’s Write Anything’s Andrea Allison with ten Web sites to aid you through the plotting and planning process.

YOWZAS

Say it isn’t so!

Dude, these guys are so smart. Here’s Hank Green on lexical gaps—and the opposite of virginity.

Agree?  Here is American Book Reviews’ take on the 100 best first lines from novels.

Happy Friday, my loves!

Any good plans?

Me, for the Win

I announced this shortly after it happened, but one of favorite writing friends, Cambria Dillon, landed herself an agent a few weeks ago—Vickie Motter of Andrea Hurst Literary Agency.  To celebrate, she’s hosting a week-long contest on her bloggity blog, and I am one of the prizes!

Well, you can’t win ME, per se, but you *can* win a 5-page critique from me, and I promise to put so much coffee, coffee, and coffee into it (I bleed and sweat coffee, so none of this blood, sweat, and tears business!), you’ll feel as if you’ve won a five-page dose of me.

Today’s winner will also win a copy of Something, Maybe by Elizabeth Scott.

Sound good?  To win, pop on over to this post and check out the little interview Cam did with me as well as the contest directions—it’s easy peasy.  One criterion is to be a follower of this blog, so before you go, subscribe via e-mail or RSS, if you don’t already—and pat yourself on the back for being so efficient!

You have until 10 p.m. EST tonight to win, so hurry up, buddypants!!

In the Blogosphere: 2/28-3/11

“In the Blogosphere” is a series, which lists links to writing-related blogs I’ve stumbled upon throughout a given week (usually).

I’m making one of my resolutions to be better with these blogosphere posts.  *Well, I’m trying, but I’ve been reallllllly busy!* I’ve saved a lot of great stuff, though, and it’s all definitely worth a read.

AGENT ADVICE

Here on Pub Rants, Kristen Nelson of Nelson Literary Agency shows you four easy steps for a “killer” opening—or, four things that will KILL your opening.

Does writing in the young adult genre appeal to you?  Or, are you already doing it but are unsure if you’re doing it well?  Mary Kole of Andrea Brown Lit pimps Regina L. Brooks’s book, Writing Great Books for Young Adults.

LET’S GET TECHNICAL

I’ve done a “Straight Dope” post on this, but don’t take it from me—take it from the Grammar Girl herself: Mignon Fogarty talks the capitalization of proper nouns.

Here, YA Highway’s Amanda Hannah helps you strengthen those sentences, simile-and-metaphor style.

Feeling tense?  Claire King is feeling first person present tense—and she makes a case for when and where (and why) it’s appropriate.

After checking out what Kristen Nelson says NOT to do in your beginning chapters, New York Times bestselling author (Across the Universe) Beth Revis spills on what TO do in order to hook readers in your first chapter in this post on the League of Extraordinary Writers.

Here, Gabriela Pereira of DIY MFA gives some concrete tips and exercises to create concrete characters.

CHUGGING ALONG

Are you a Type A writer?  In this post, author Jody Hedlund suggests that, if you devise and stick to a writing plan, you’re likely to be a more successful writer.

End-of-winter sluggishness contributing to your writer’s block?  Here, horror writer of awesome Zoe C. Courtman offers tips on how to sweat through the blockage!

ORGANIZATION TIPS & NO EXCUSES!

And while we’re on the subject of writing regularly and successfully, organization is key to clearing out distractions.  Incarnate author and ferret aficionado Jodi Meadows agrees in this post, where she shares her secret for keeping her inbox organized.

Where is all the time for writing?  It’s hard to come by, says D4EO agent Mandy Hubbard, but that’s no excuse.  She says you must find the time—and she does it with Debbie Ridpath Ohi cartoons!

I’m looking forward to seeing some writer friends at SCBWI this weekend—can’t wait to tell you all about it!

How about you?  Anything fun this weekend?