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09 June 2006 @ 09:27 am
help with a book title  
As a writer, titles are incredibly important to me. I don't know if other writers have this issue (I know some don't), but the title is my backbone for a book. I think really hard about patterns, about what the title conveys, about a lot of things that I get way hung up on. (This is dangerous, because publishers are wont to change titles left and right. I like to go in armed as to why my particular title works for a book, although in the case of, say, the Dermody books, I went in knowing the titles I had weren't particularly strong. The elements, though, were very important to me, and I got to keep those: CARDINAL, FIREBIRD, PHOENIX.)

So it's bothering me that I don't have exactly the right title for the second book in the Del Rey series, and I'd really like some help coming up with something, if people want to play this game again.

The first and third books in my Del Rey series are THE QUEEN'S BASTARD and THE IMPERATOR'S HEIR (although that one hasn't actually been, like, contracted for or anything. Let us not get hung up on the details.)

The current title for the 2nd book, the working title, is THE PRETENDER'S CROWN. There's nothing wrong with this title, except it doesn't do exactly what I want it to, and the more I think about it the more I fear it drags the story in a different direction from where I intend it to go. This, for somebody who considers the title a book's backbone, is Not Good. (It's also possible it's Quite Good, but that I'll end up with a completely different story than the one I expected to tell. That's not necessarily bad, but meh. I'd like to try to retain some control over it...!)

The title I've been playing with from the beginning is THE GYPSY'S SCION. On one hand, this does what the other two titles do: it's 3 words, and the pattern is "antecedent's descendant", which is very, very much what I want for the titles of these books. These characters are defined by who their parents are in a lot of ways, so yeah, that's important.

Where THE GYPSY'S SCION falls down:

1. there's no implication of royalty, which I'd like, as the gypsy in question is a king among his people. That would help it fit the pattern of the other two books, too: royalty's descendent.

2. frankly, it's just weak. "Scion" is a ... not-real word, compared to words like "bastard" and "heir". But "son" doesn't seem to carry enough weight; I want something with more punch. Maybe I'm overthinking that.

The world I'm dealing with (at least in theory) in the second book is maybe equivilant to 19th century Europe, if that's of any use. The hero is, yes, the gypsy's son, but "royalty descendent" is more important to me than the word 'gypsy' in there, especially because by the time I get to the end of the first book I may have a completely different idea in mind, which is not impossible. Because of that, I might be putting the cart before the horse here, but it's something that keeps niggling at me, probably because I really want a solid handle on that book as soon as possible, and right now the title is tearing me in different directions. I've come to grim terms with the idea that the second title of the series might not fit the pattern I want it to, but before I utterly give up I thought I'd throw it out to the masses.

(But I *am* working, I cried out in protest! Agonizing over my titles *is* working! It's just not getting words on the page! Right. Breakfast and then edits on PHOENIX LAW. I leave the rest to you, my good readers.)
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Aberdeenaberdeen on June 9th, 2006 09:18 am (UTC)
1) What's wrong with scion?
2) Here's what my google-fu turned up: http://everything2.com/index.pl?node=gypsy
3) I'm going to sleep, now.
madmiss on June 9th, 2006 09:28 am (UTC)
And 'The Gypsy Prince' wont work because?
madmiss on June 9th, 2006 10:21 am (UTC)
ehh... I like 'The Sovereign's Gypsy'?
The Gypsy's Despot
The Gypsy's Ascendant

Thenomainthenomain on June 9th, 2006 08:14 pm (UTC)
Because it's either cliche', or sounds like a romance novel?
Janne: puddlejanne on June 9th, 2006 09:33 am (UTC)
I think having *'s in from of scion is a bit awkward. (Maybe because it sounds like Gypsy's Ion in my head.) Maybe a word that doesn't begin with S helps? Gypsy's Legacy? (Though I must admit, I like Pretender's Crown a lot myself. Sounds much more dramatic to have a Pretender than a Gypsy...) Hmm. Or even break the pattern with something like "Gypsy King's Son", which would still have "antecedent's descendant" in the pattern. (Hmm, that doesn't really look right. But, I guess I should stop procrastinating on my own work now :P :)
kitmizkit on June 9th, 2006 11:27 am (UTC)
Yeah, it's just kinda ucky, with the *'s in front of scion. Lacks strength. And THE PRETENDER'S CROWN *is* quite good, much more dramatic, but ... well. I don't know. Maybe it'll turn out it does fit the story.
jesshartleyjesshartley on June 9th, 2006 10:16 am (UTC)
I have a hard time fitting anything with "Gypsy's" and making it work... May another "slang" term (not precisely correct, but something an outsider would think of a gypsy as...)

The Tinker's ... (It's too bad you want child rather than sire, because "The Tinker's Dam" would be a cool name.)

The Vagabond's ...
The Nomad's ...
The Drifter's ...
The Peddler's ...

Other "descendant terms" you could mix and match include:
Brood, Child, Kin, Progeny, Seed, Kin, Successor, Issue,

I'm actually kind of fond of "The Peddler's Prince", but then I like alliteration.

(I'm not sure if any of these would fit the situation/characters, so some of them may just come across as /wrong/ for the book.)
Jill Myles: lady w/cupirysangel on June 9th, 2006 10:57 am (UTC)
Hm...I don't like THE GYPSY'S SCION, sorry. It's too 'blah' of a title to catch my attention. THE PRETENDER'S CROWN is pretty good -- I'd give that one a look-see at least.

I dunno how to help -- everything I keep coming up with is out of pattern. :/ Why not THE GYPSY'S HEIR and you can worry about book 3 when it gets bought? :)
kitmizkit on June 9th, 2006 11:25 am (UTC)
Because THE IMPERATOR'S HEIR is a good title, and more to the point, appropriate for that story. :)
Brianlogrusboy on June 9th, 2006 01:30 pm (UTC)
My vote is to leave it be. You have a good progression (queen -> pretender -> imperator) and switching out pretender is going to ruin that.
Jill Myles: powerpuffirysangel on June 10th, 2006 12:03 am (UTC)
True enough. :) Though I do like a lot of the other title suggestions too. (Mainly THE GYPSY'S KNAVE)


(kidding o.o)
(Deleted comment)
kitmizkit on June 9th, 2006 02:20 pm (UTC)
Kasey Mackenziekaitiana on June 9th, 2006 06:04 pm (UTC)
Hmm, I like the thought of The Gypsy's Knave, cept knave usually has a negative connotation. Depending upon the character, that may actually be a GOOD thing. =) An alternative to that would be The Gypsy's Rogue (haha), since rogue has a slightly less negative connotation but then you lose the hint of royalty again.
Kasey Mackenziekaitiana on June 10th, 2006 03:55 am (UTC)
Brainstorming: How about something like The Gypsy's Firstborn or The Gypsy's Trueborn or The Gypsy's Trueblood...hmm...gonna ponder some more...
Patchchamois_shimi on June 9th, 2006 04:19 pm (UTC)
According to Wiki, the Romani word for king is "thagar"... but that's not a very pleasant-sounding word, really. :/
Chrysoulachrysoula on June 9th, 2006 05:18 pm (UTC)
The Traveller's Child
The Briarcrown's Seed
The King's Highwayman (okay, I have no idea where that came from)
Wagon-Regnant's Dauphin (!!! In the 'worst suggestion EVAR' category)
Sovereign's Son

Ok, I'm late for work.

Thidawaterowl on June 9th, 2006 06:29 pm (UTC)
I don't know you, but when I have your problem, it indicates I don't quite understand the main theme of my work just yet. I spend a bit of time agonizing over the title when what I'm really doing is agonizing over grappling the whole thing.

To me, what the publisher names the work is a separate issue than what I name the work. I need to have a solid title to write with even if ultimately it's not a title the publisher thinks will sell the work.
kitmizkit on June 9th, 2006 07:07 pm (UTC)
I suspect there is a fair bit of *precisely* that going on here. Given that the first book isn't written yet, wrassling with the title of the second is a ltitle premature. But still, I'm doing it.

Yah, ditto on the separate issue thing.
TuftEarstuftears on June 9th, 2006 07:28 pm (UTC)
'The Queen's Bastard' is a nice strong title to open the series. I agree that 'The Gypsy's Scion' is weak, it lacks the punch to make people leaf through it.

Does it need to be three words? I could see 'The Gypsy King's Son' for instance. Or 'The Scoundrel Prince', going for a title without the possessive.
shimmerydaze on June 10th, 2006 01:25 am (UTC)
I went along chamois' line of thinking, the Romanian for Queen is Regina. Italian too, but I guess it depends on where your gypsies are from. http://en.wiktionary.org/wiki/queen

Depending on the relationship, you could go with The Regina's Prodigal or The Regina's Aspirant. Or something like The Regina's Descendant gets right to the point. Heheh...Or offspring or progeny...

The problem, of course, is that there is no such thing as a gypsy king or queen. Traditionally, gypsies are outlaws, not royalty--so that makes it difficult to come up with a word that implies both.
Merlin Of Chaosmerlinofchaos on June 10th, 2006 05:09 am (UTC)
I'm not sure it's appropriate, but I've seized upon the bloodline aspect.

Partially out of pattern.

I know, doesn't fit the pattern.

I dunno. I can't come up with anything better than THE PRETENDER'S CROWN it seems.

(Anonymous) on June 13th, 2006 12:01 am (UTC)
Book Title

Have been reading your journal, first the archives, then finally caught up with current. Two things come to mind. 1. God, I wish I'd been able to get to know you better before we both moved. 2. You're damned entertaining, even if it isn't fiction. :-) By the way, how do I get to be a livejournal user? So I can have my own little person icon.

Anyway on to Book titles. A little reasearch on the subject of Gypsy leads me to ask....from what background do the characters descend? Midieval England? Irish? (That would be good, considering where you are, but I don't know enough about the backstory.) Egypt? Romani? 16th Century Lowland Scotland?

Here are some things I bounced around, playing with ideas. And websites that might be of some help, course it might just muddy the waters, too, who knows.

Gypsy-> another word for-> none found
Descendant->Royality-> Successor?
Successor-> to take over from-> to receive from->-> to inherit from
Male-> Son-> Prince

Barmakids—Descendant(s) of an Iranian Princely house of Central Asia
"King Barmakids' Successor?"...-> "King->insert character's name here-> Successor".
Gypsy-- Some scholars state that gypsies left India as a single, nomadic tribe (McDowell, 1970), while others refer to gypsies as Romani travelers. (Acton, 1974). Acton also states that the word "gypsy" is a contraction of the word Egyptian, which gypsies were thought at first to be since the first recorded gypsies told people they came from Egypt.

Principality—> of being of royality-> royal descendant




Anyway, hope this is at least of something to chew on. :-)

MacKenzie Raye

kitmizkit on June 13th, 2006 09:06 am (UTC)
Re: Book Title

To get yourself a Livejournal account, go to http://livejournal.com and create an account. I believe the login/account creation is in the upper right-hand corner.

It's good to hear from you! Thanks for all the ideas!