Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Changing the name of my fantasy novel

The original Death Knight doing what he does best.
 *FUNNY STORY ABOUT WRITING FANTASY* I'm about 70,000 words into my fantasy novel and in the final stretch and it only occurred to me yesterday: Should I name it Death Knight as I originally planned? Or, instead, should I name it something else?

The original Death Knight in fantasy fiction was Lord Soth as created by Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman in the Dragonlance series. He was basically a substitute for Darth Vader and a titanic juggernaut of magical power as well as a cursed knight.

Later, the title would be adopted by Arthas Menethil and his high-level minions for World of Warcraft. The setting used Arthas and the Death Knights as a substitute for Sauron and his Nazgul. Likewise, they took the fire motifs of Sauron to ice motifs.

In my book, the basic premise was the "serials number filed off" Nazgul gets back his free will and tries to gain redemption. I, too, have used ice motifs for my Sauron EXPY but that was reached independently of WOW.

Really, ice and cold being evil goes back all the way to the Vikings.

Arthas lounging about.
Then it occurred to me: should I name my undead warriors Death Knights at all? Or will that seem derivative? You know, even though it's based on something derivative to begin with.

Then again, there's nothing new under the sun and while my book is about a ghostly undead knight who once served a dark lord, I went my own way with it. My creations have about as much to do with the Nazgul now as they do any other fantasy Dark Lord.

In short, my monsters were mine.

Shouldn't I name them something which gives me entitlement?


I'm not a big fan of just giving things random names, though. If it's a ghost, call it a ghost, rather than Naazadian or whatever. I also wanted the title of my book to convey what it was about at a glance. Buffy the Vampire Slayer says more or less everything you to know about the series for example.

I cycled through some names: Wight Lord, Grave Knight, Damned Knight, and so on and so on. Something like Shadow Knight got across "evil magic knight" too but Death Knight really had a punch other names lacked.

You don't want to tick these guys off by stealing their idiom.
Only after I thought about all of this, did I think: You know, none of these names are really dripping with originality to begin with. I decided to pick something which was wholly my own but conveyed in two words, "Okay, what is this book about what's its tone?"

 So, I ended up re-naming it Wraith Knight.

Clearly, I put way too much thought into this.


  1. Also as Iron Maiden used in Wraithchild. Wraith and Wrath are pronounced the same so you get a duel meaning out of the title if you so choose.

    1. Good point! Anything supported by Iron Maiden must be good!

  2. Putting thought into your novel title is something you should always do as the name of any novel or work of fiction can be the thing that drag's someone into reading or watching your product. A bad title can drive someone away from checking out your work instantly, same with any bad summaries of your work as well.

    For example I checked out the anime fruit basket mainly cause of the title, as it was a different title than usual than I expect an anime title to be and it did the job of dragging my attention to it. A bad title for me would be the new star wars title Force Awakens.

    For me it just sounds stupid and really cheesy. That has dampened my anticipation for the new film, simply cause I found the title to be bad in my eyes. How other people feel about it I can't say but to each his own on that.

    They say don't judge a book by it's cover, but if you can't sell your product to your audience at first glance or make a good impression, then you ain't going to have much success.

    Getting these simple things right can really affect how many people check out your work and how successful it is.

    1. I admit, it's kind of interesting to go, "Well, Death Knight might attract fans who know what such a creature is."

      And then, "Death Knight will also mean those fans think I'm a hack."

      So I decided to go with making my monsters my own rather than passing them off as something else. I'd rather be an original hack than an unoriginal one.

      You're right, though, that titles really are THAT important.