UPDATE 16 – Leviathan Rising and My Search for Alternate Titles

My odyssey ebbs ever onwards.

A few days ago I had a talk with a very dear friend of mine about my query letters. The tips and links he offered were very helpful. As it turns out, the content I was sending out was not as good as it could have been. He gave me a few links to some successful query letters that were reviewed by their respective agents to reveal why they were so successful. Starting tomorrow, I will continue the query process. My output will likely not be nearly as much, but the quality of that output should be much better than before.

To top it off, I have found a new resource to help me find an agent, another website called Query Tracker. I have already started my account and look forward to checking out the community.

Before we continue, let me run a few titles by you.

Leviathan Rising

A Stillness in the Water

A Silence in the Deep

The Jaws of Death

Jaws of Leviathan

Off the Beach

The White

What do all of these titles have in common?

They are but a few of the titles that Peter Benchley threw around while seeking a title for his novel, Jaws. Why does this concern me? Well, to be frank, my title for this book might not be very good.

The leading character’s name is a simple enough solution as any. Zhyx. Just one problem. What the hell is a Zhyx?

I of course wrote the book. Zhyx is simply the translation for Red in dragon tongue. But how will a new reader know that? More importantly, how will an agent know that?

Simply put, my title might not be that marketable. At least not until the character is well known.

Now for later installments, including the leading character’s name is fine. Just look at the sequels to Raiders of the Lost Ark, all of which included leading man, Indiana Jones’ name in the title. Now, we all known how kickass a name Indiana Jones is, but it was only after Raiders that name became so marketable. Had Raiders not been a big hit, it wouldn’t matter how cool a name the leading man had. It wouldn’t have sold.

So now we know that Zhyx might not be the best title for the book, not until that character is established.

So what to do in the meantime?

Well, I guess it is time to explore other options. I cannot think of another name for my fire breathing star. His name was uncovered quite by accident while throwing random sounds at myself during my work shift, and something about that one stood out. It was sharp, menacing, had a feel of mystery about it. It was a good name. Good and simple.

Some of the best titles are single word titles. Alien, Predator, Halloween, Psycho. Each title tells you everything you need to know. But on the flip side you have multiple word titles that are more statements, but still introduce you to the story very well. 2001: A Space Odyssey, Raiders of the Lost Ark, To Kill a Mockingbird and so much more. Then you have the healthy medium. Two word titles that balance the blunt nature of a story with a statement to make something that tells you everything in but a few words. Star Wars, Star Trek, Die Hard, Dirty Harry.

A few titles have come to mind so far.

There is still the subtitle An Unusual Adventure, Zhyx’s title of The Great Red Wyrm certainly comes to mind. In thinking about new titles, it seems that a multiple word title would work best. After all, the story is about a dragon turned action hero, and it would be difficult to showcase that with just one word. Dragon, Firebreather, Wyrm, those are either already taken or just not that good. So it seems to me a multiple word title will be best, and that is what I am currently working on.

Although the original title for Alien was Star Beast, and we all know which title is better there.

I will be giving my cousin a call tomorrow and we will brainstorm some ideas. Wish us luck. Hopefully we can come up with something better than Star Beast.

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