Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Where Does #ConditionedResponse Get its Title? #indie #writing #amwriting

I usually get my titles from a line in the book, a piece of dialog or some turn of phrase I really like. The one thing all my titles--chapter titles, book titles, any titles--have in common is that they always have more than one meaning. Titles might even have more than one source.

This book originally was called Problem 4368: The Community of Trouville and the book really focused more on Problem 4368 (the machine-to-man subplot) than it did anything else. When I created Raif in 2005, as I've said everywhere, he really took over the page, the book, the series!  Because his influence was so strong, I ended up with a second reference in the book to the phrase "conditioned response" which tied the original machine to the Proctors I'd created in a kind of subliminal way. That is, both the men and machines were being "programmed" or "conditioned" and I juxtaposed the way the machine here was going to become more of a man than the Proctors were being allowed to be.

The machine is called Charlie. He gets his name from the acronym of his designation: Conditioned Human Response Series machine, Rev E, or CHR-E. The idea of his design was that a Turing machine can and will learn to respond to situations in a "conditioned" manner.

The book, once Proctor Raif hit the stage, took another turn into conditioning. Proctors minds are manipulated and even used to turn these men into weapons--without their knowledge or consent. Human trafficking is a big issue to me, personally, so making the Proctors slaves really was important to me but they're also highly-skilled soldiers so I had to balance a fine-edged sword there. I had to figure out how to make them both. Conditioned responses were my answer. Proctors are programmed....like machines, not men.

One of the manners in which Proctors are programmed is referred to as "planting a trigger." It's like being hypnotized and having a post-hypnotic suggestion planted in your mind. A trigger is a directive to carry out a set of instructions--and he'll carry out the directive or die trying. To resist a trigger would destroy him, mentally. It's a do or die directive. I've handily "disabled" the Proctors' survival instinct, their natural instinct for self-preservation, so they will self-destruct trying to carry out a trigger's directive.

Bearing all this in mind, when I got to the following paragraph in the book (near the end), I knew I had my title--my new title.

“No.” She shook her head. “Not me, the trigger. I couldn’t stop the trigger in his head from firing.”
Brennan leaned back and the other two Proctors took a small step away from her. It was a conditioned response. The word “trigger” held that kind of power over Proctors. Distance yourself from a trigger. A man with a trigger in his head cannot control his actions. He might be programmed to kill you without warning and without regard for his own life.

What do you think? Did I pick the right title? :) Too late now. It's emblazoned on Raif's mind and there's no fixing that anymore! Read a free sample of the book on Smashwords by clicking here. The book's official release date is this coming weekend, April 20, 2012, but you can already find it on sale at Smashwords and the Amazon Kindle store (for Kindle UK, click here).


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