What’s in a Name?

I’m not very good at titles. I think it is easier to write a book rather than think of a title. I’m sure it’s some sort of literary law of diminishing words and exponentially increasing level of difficulty. It fits. It’s as hard to write a picture book as it is to write a novel (and a lot fewer words in a picture book) so by extension it’s impossible to write a title (hardly any words in there).

Mexica Runner, which I named over a year ago when I finished it, has had a name change. The word Mexica caused confusion with Mexico. I couldn’t bring myself to change it to Mexico (so unright) or Aztec. The latter might seem the obvious solution but Aztec was a word historians (reasonably recently) invented to describe the Mexica peoples. And as I have gone to great lengths to keep my novels as historically accurate as possible, it didn’t seem right to throw all that away on the front cover. I brainstormed a list of possibles and the now the votes are. The new title is Jaguar Warrior. I like it. I like it a lot. I can’t wait to see the cover. I am imagining a golden-eyed jaguar.

I am currently working on Samurai Kids Book 5 and I had a tentative title surprisingly early in the process: Lizard Breath. I gave it a trial whirl on Facebook. Not good. It sounds like a playground insult, Christine Bongers told me. Now Christine is a wizard with words (her debut novel Dust is proof enough for me) so I listened and I took my title for a walk in the park. Not good again. Everyone agreed with Christine. Tentative next new title: Fire Lizard. What do you think?

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5 responses to “What’s in a Name?”

  1. Katherine says:

    I feel your title struggle … so tough! But Jaguar Warrior is awesome – it immediately gives a strong sense of action and mystery.

    Fire Lizard is much better than Lizard Breath 🙂 I’d never thought of using facebook as a trial run for titles – I love modern technology!

  2. Sandy, I’ll have to watch those throwaway lines on facebook in future! I feel your pain in choosing a title: my publisher and I brainstormed ‘Dust’ and Henry Hoey Hobson was named after my protagonist. Have to agree with Kath about Jaguar Warrior, what a cracker of a title! (BTW love your blog; I’m adding you to my bloglist) 🙂

  3. Hi Sandy, I like the title too. I think it must have been even harder to come up with character names that are even patially pronouncable. The Aztec (I know you don’t like the word) myths are rich and wonderful, I just can’t get my head around the names.


  4. SANDY says:

    Thanks everyone. And Christine I am indebted to those throwaway lines. Keep ’em coming *smile* Jeff, I try and cheat a little with charcater names – to find authentic names which have a familiar ring. Hard with Aztec words – all those z’s and x’s. I eventually settled on Atl (short and easy to say) and Citlali (known as Lali which is very soft and familar sounding).

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