I Need A Title
Well, the title says it all, or doesn’t in this case. I need a new title for Paladin’s Pride.
The following is the query letter I am working on. Yes, I am still working on it, but not really. Since I’m taking it to Surrey for a workshop, it’s less immediate than some other things.
Dear Perfect Agent,
(Personal note about why agent is being approached.)
Gentyl longs to join her aunt’s elite cavalry, but with a bloody civil war and genocide looming, it’s a dream that could get her killed.
One hero in the family is enough and, unlike her famous aunt, Gentyl isn’t the heroic type. She just wants to be a courier, but even that is a struggle as she fights prejudice and hatred in the military unit she enters against her family’s wishes.
With the king missing, allies who once joined forces to defeat the demon armies thirty years ago are now poised to destroy each other; just as the demon lord and his caller Lucine have planned. Gentyl and a supposedly senile wizard, with a penchant for botching spells, irritating nobles and livening things up with fireworks, stand between them and the destruction of the alliance and her people.
Gentyl and the wizard join forces to unravel the mystery of dead guards in hopes of finding the missing king and preventing war in this 120,000-word epic fantasy.
I was a staff writer for Speedhorse magazine seventeen years and I’ve owned and raised Quarter Horses for years. This gives the horse aspects of the story a firm foundation.
Please find enclosed the first five pages and a synopsis.
Thank you for your time and consideration.
Any suggestions? What else do you need to see to come up with a title?
Some other ones:
Gentle Spirit, Warrior Soul
Paladins All-Taking this out of the running. It’s going on the last book, because they put that sign over the cemetery.
Knight’s Blood In the prologue, which will most likely become a middle chapter now, Aegis is killed. As he is dying, he focuses on a knight’s blood apple blossom, floating in a pool of his blood. Knight’s blood apple blossoms have a special meaning.
Blood born, blood sworn is a ritual for the M’eiryn people.
Far Rider’s Dream
Don’t want to confuse this with Britain’s Rider series.
When Demons Sing
Don’t want to confuse it with any of the vampire demon glut.
This might actually be a good title for the series.
Though I Should Die
On the tombstone of a Sylvan champion is this inscription, denoting the grave is consecrated and protected by a spirit warrior. “Though I Should Die, Yet Will I Serve.” This has special meaning to Gen who more than anything wants to prove she is loyal and skilled.
And In The Tear A Rainbow
This line is in the book from a scene where she is at a grave, crying over a fallen warrior.
GENTYL AND THE DEMON CALLER-Steve Stubbs
Obviously, I haven’t made a decision. sigh
you asked, so: GENTYL
Tony, oh, sure go for the simple and obvious.
(Switching the natural order of words in a phrase, at least one like this, is a good way to suggest a fantasy world; makes the language sound, y’know, vaguely medieval. And this particular phrase as a title is almost a hook in itself, because it sounds so, well, weird.)
Alternatively something like “Rider Far, Rider Fair” (or vice-versa).
Note how blithely I screw around with the title of somebody ELSE’s book. 🙂 (But in truth, I have wondered about “Paladin’s Pride” and am glad you are wondering about it, too, regardless whether you end up changing it or not.)
lol …that IS what the tale’s about!
OK, OK, you asked for suggestions.
This is not my normal fare but I like your story. Your query seems more like a synopsis than a hook, though. I am thinking there is high concept buried in here and that you might find your hook there. Try this:
A magical kingdom is being threatened by a demon army. The kingdom can be saved, but only if its missing king is restored to the throne. The problem is, the two people searching for the king are an inexperienced young woman named Gentyl and a senile sorcerer who botches his spells, irritates the nobles, and sets off fireworks at unfortunate times. They are no match for the demon caller Lucine, but if they fail, the result will be civil war and genocide. Everything depends on these two and the clock is ticking.
You might be able to tighten that, but you see it states the problem, names the main characters, and (I hope) makes the agent want to read more.
120K may be a wee mite too long. Can you tighten it to 100K without losing anything important? Fantasies tend to be short.
As for title, how about GENTYL AND THE DEMON CALLER?
I dunno what the hell a demon caller is, but I am an ignoramus where demons are concerned anyway.
If you want an opinion on the five pages, e-mail ‘em to me.
When it gets published you owe me a copy for the advice.
The query is definitely going to need more work. I’m hoping to get in Janet Reid’s query workshop at the Surrey Conference.
As for cutting it to 100,000, I doubt that is going to happen. I am slashing it to death to get it to 120,000. I think epic fantasies get a little more wiggle room on the length and this one is definitely epic.
I’m doing a bit of edit on the first pages, but will send them to you when I get through fiddling.
Thanks for stopping by and the advice.
John, I think the Rider Far/Rider Fair has some merit. I can easily add a line into the book to anchor it.
I hadn’t even really thought about it until one of the agents mentioned titles being important. I just assumed it would change anyway so why bother?
I just assumed it would change anyway so why bother?
Heh. Then how about calling it “X, The Unknown Book”?
‘Course, I’m just being a smart-aleck about that. But I think it does matter, because coming up with a hook of a title is an essential bit of marketing business — if not for the book itself when it goes to publication, then at least for the MS as you present it for consideration. I’m not an agent, curse the luck, but if I were I’d think about an author’s working title as a first fast brushstroke indicator of how the author regards his/her own work — especially how seriously and professionally the writer takes it. Is the title bluntly descriptive or evocative? Does it suggest a STORY, especially in a way which already sounds mysterious enough to make me want to read the first page? Can I see a book cover for this title, which stands out from a myriad of other book covers on the same shelf at Borders or B&N? Like that.
John, you are correct.
Kristin pointed out it’s a mistake not to take them seriously.
When I renamed Dream Catcher to Dancing Horses, it just hit me and stuck. I still think Dancing Horses is an excellent title for that book.
The only thing that has struck a chord with me so far was Paladin’s Pride.
Wizard Watch or Wizard Walk are possibilities, but nothing really sings to me.
And now I will have to find a new name for the Bladesinger. I didn’t realize that was a Dungeons and Dragons character, race, class, whatever they are.
While grumbling about on a writer’s forum I live at I mentioned something about a recent experience.
“I looked down and saw a teardrop hanging from a blade of grass and in the tear a rainbow.”
It’s most likely too long, but I am thinking about using, “and in the tear a rainbow” as the title.
I’m new. (Saw you on Jessica Faust’s blog) and thought I’d investigate. [grin]
Ah, titles. I’ve recently been through this dilemma. Wanted to make sure my title ‘marketed’ my book to the best of it’s ability. Even tho, they can be thrown out with an editor’s whim. [sigh]
Anyhow! I love the poetic tear/rainbow thing, but from reading your query, it doesn’t seem to have much to do with your story…?
I like GENTYL. But also, think Fair Rider is good. Especially as that’s what she wants to be (I presume the couriers ride on horses as you mention your expertise). However, anything with Rider in it, in relation to fantasy, brings to mind Kristen Britain’s fantasies. “The Green Rider. First Rider’s Call.” Now, I love her books, so that’s not a bad association, just pointing out the connection.
How ’bout, GENTYL RIDER?
Hmm, as you can see, I’m a whiz at this! lol
Don’t you just love the way a simple question can burst open such a can of worms? 🙂
Marissa’s point is a good one, about similarities to the titles of popular existing works or series. (Once again, my ignorance of the fantasy genre betrays me.) If “rider” anywhere in the title is going to make that association for readers, well, hmm…
But you may be onto something with the idea that a title might lurk in a phrase you’ve turned. Looking back at the first three chapters… hmm again… “Blood born, blood sworn” maybe?
‘when all else fails, read the instructions’ 😉 lol
“And in the tear a rainbow,” has been added to a scene, so now it is a line in the book.
“Though I should die,” is also in the book. It’s an inscription on a gravestone. Though I should die, yet will I serve. This becomes pretty much words Gen longs to live by. Duty and honor above all.
I have thought about The Green Rider and don’t want people thinking I am copying her, though the stories are very different. I read Green Rider and First Rider’s Call but refuse to read any more of her books. After waiting so long to read the second one and see how it ends, I realized there is yet another one coming, which will probably take several more years to churn out.
I don’t want to use anything with demon in it even though they play heavily in the story as it will be perceived as a vampire chronicle.
Wizard Watch, perhaps.
I’m sure something will jump out sooner or later.
I actually like Blood Sworn. It sounds a little dangerous and makes me think of dark blood slashed cover, lol.
Blood born, blood sworn is also from the book so it is a distinct possibility. Gen can’t be blood born since her mother isn’t M’eiryn, but she can be blood sworn.
I guess I really ought to turn this into a contest. Prize a lovely gift certificate to Suzie’s South Forty Confections. Nothing like Texas junk food to make you feel good.
Marissa, and in posting your suggestion, we might have to add a subtitle…(Not to be confused with one who rides Gentyl.)
“I actually like Blood Sworn. It sounds a little dangerous and makes me think of dark blood slashed cover, lol.”
In my meanderings (IOW doing other things besides writing) I was trying to envision what kind of cover would go with this story.
In the prologue the last of the king’s guards is murdered and he focuses on a knight’s blood apple blossom floating in a pool of his blood. The cover, in my dramatic mind, would be a stone floor with a pool of blood and this apple blossom floating in it. Nearby a bloodied sword is lying on the floor.
In this world, knight’s blood apple blossoms are the symbol of honor. So KNIGHT’S BLOOD would be very appropriate.
Totally agree on Kristen Britain’s series. I was depressed for a week after getting to the end of the second one only to realise I need the third one for closure and she was still writing it! Incidentally, the 3rd is out “High King’s Tomb” (I think that’s the title). I got it out of the library but before I had a chance to read it, I discovered there’s a FOURTH one in the works! So, I definitely did not bother reading the third. I’ll wait till the entire series is finished first! 🙂
Hmm, still stumped on title…It’s kinda fun to work on it – especially when it’s not my book, so no stressed involved for me! [grin]
My thoughts would be to try and nail the ‘feel’ of the book. The ‘punch’ maybe. Eg: Blood Sworn is a cool title, but from the query letter it doesn’t sound like Gentyl at all. Gentyl seems, well, gentle. She seems like she’s got some ‘angst’ going on, but she doesn’t come across as a ‘die hard, come and get me and I’ll eat you for breakfast’ kinda gal. Quote: “Gentyl isn’t the heroic type. She just wants to be a courier”
I know she gathers courage and ends up saving the day, but then a title that pays tribute to that courage would be cool. I guess I kinda feel that something like Blood Sworn is misleading. It would be fitting if, for example, the above quote read something like this instead: “Gentyl isn’t the heroic type, but the spilt blood of her family forced her to swear allegiancce to the missing king.” OR “Gentyl isn’t the heroic type, but when the demons slay her family/lover/best friend, she swears on their blood to avenge them.”
You know what I mean? So, my question is, what’s the ‘theme’? What’s Gentyl’s CORE character? Or what does Gentyl’s character end up as?
But then, I must confess, I’m not a whiz AT ALL at titles, let alone ‘fantasy’. I’m a romance writer. lol. Hence all the drama drama ‘what’s she FEELING’ yada.
I’m not a whiz AT ALL at titles, let alone ‘fantasy’. I’m a romance writer. lol. Hence all the drama drama ‘what’s she FEELING’ yada.
Marissa protests too much. The questions/suggestions — her meanderings 🙂 — in her most recent comment struck me as pretty good ones. Alas, you (Julie) are at this point seeking a clear path, not a muddier one. Heh.
Gentyl starts out as a very klutzy, naive 15-year-old with a rather romantic dream about what her aunt does. Fairly early on she starts showing her mettle when the Ladies of Lorimar, as they become known, get put through some very grueling training as punishment.
I resisted giving her some angsty, dramatic reason to grow as it is pretty much already done. What she plucks out, she already has, she just doesn’t know it.
Sometime in the middle of the series, this will be four or five books if it ever sees daylight, she becomes the leader of a guerilla unit. This unit is similar to J.E.B. Stuart’s raiders for Gen. Lee only in a fantasy setting.
Knight’s Blood might be good as the apple blossoms run through the series. The book opens with them and the series closes with them.
Ah, well. something will tumble out.
gentyl: just different enough to grab your attention, yet what the book’s about…
no doubt, some editor will change it, on a whim
charles schulz was saddled with ‘peanuts’ [tho i prefer it to his own ‘little folks’]