In preparation for an uncoming FREE promo of my novel “The Crimson League“ for Kindle (February 11-15, 2013), I wanted to take a moment to reflect upon the titling process, which was really more complicated than I wished. The working titles were so horrible!!
Titling a novel is very difficult, because there is SO much to consider. You need the title to be catchy and grab interest, but you don’t want it to give anything away. You want it be mysterious, to evoke curiosity, without being SO mysterious it’s incomprehensible.
You want a title, if possible, to hint to the genre. For epic fantasy, words like “Magic” or “Sorcery” in the title are like beacons screaming “FANTASY.” If you’re writing urban fantasy about vampires, you want “blood” somewhere around, perhaps. That’s a good thing! The problem is, the keywords are so effective they become kind of over-used.
You also want something shorter rather than longer for your title, because it’s easier for people to remember and refer back to. And lastly, of course, you want something unique, neither cliché nor used elsewhere.
So, my working titles:
- Kora Porteg and the Hall of Sorcery, for Book I. Was WAY too similar to the Harry Potter series, but I thought it might hint to that connection, since prospective reading audience was the same.
- Kora Porteg and the Crimson League. Same problems as the first.
- The Marked One. Way too vague, as well as cliché sounding. And really speaks nothing about the heart of the story, in my opinion. This was the title I sent to my beta readers, but definitely NOT one I wanted to use in publication.
- Crimson Stand. Almost as vague as number 3, though at least it hinted to some kind of resistance or battle. Still, though, rather incomprehensible. Crimson Stand??? What does that mean, exactly?
Eventually, of course, I decided on “The Crimson League.” That’s the name of the resistance movement protagonist Kora Porteg joins. In my original concept for the novel, I envisioned the rebels a bit like the Order of the Phoenix from the Harry Potter series (though perhaps not quite as noble and selflessly motivated), and I wanted a name that rang a bit like Rowling’s. Those fighting against Zalski call themselves “The Crimson League” because the crest of Herezoth’s royal family has two sections. The first is a lamb on a green field beneath a blue sky. The other is a lion on a crimson background, symbolizing blood. I liked the warning toward the royal family’s enemies that the movement’s name implied. The allusion to the color crimson was a nice way to threaten bloodshed as well as honor their martyrs.
That’s the in-story explanation for the group’s name, and the title. The reason I decided on “The Crimson League,” in reality, was to create an homage to my alma mater, The University of Alabama, home of the Crimson Tide (the moniker of its sports teams.) I got two degrees there, and I really loved the school and the city of Tuscaloosa. Lots of fond memories! I started drafting “The Crimson League” the summer before my senior year of undergrad. I even wrote, out of nostalgia, a short story about Bama football after graduation. Man, I miss it! LE SIGH.