He was trying to start a new story.
He needed a title for it. He couldn’t start the story unless he had a title, because the title is what shaped all his stories.
He needed a bold title. Something that would immediately bring the story to mind, without spoiling it.
Being a tale told in 50 words, wherein the protagonist, a man named Arcturus Morgenstern (Third of the name) is eminently surprised to discover that the body of his wife, whom he’d found murdered not five minutes previously, is now animated with an unholy life, and for whatever reason is burning important-seeming papers that Arcturus had been working on previous to the gunshots that had seemingly (but not conclusively) killed his wife.
The gunshot startled him.
Turning, he found his wife, dead of a gunshot wound.
He ran out, looking for the assassin. Upon his return, his wife’s body was busy burning his writings.
Taking the last sheet from her undead hands, he nervously reads off the title: “How to Make Zombies”.
The writer went back to work, and quickly churned out a new novel.
He presented it to the agent, who said, “Hate the title.”
“Read it anyway.”
Later, the dazed agent called, “I’ll get all your work published. Just send it in.”
The writer thanked the hypnotic power of words.