Classes started at my university today, and even though I’m not even teaching on Mondays, right about now I’m really relating to that song in Fight Club, “Where Is My Mind?” (See my post from the beginning of the spring semester, “This is my brain on the first day of classes.”) So in honor of not having a functioning brain—but also because I’ve been working on this particular project lately—let’s talk a little bit about my zombie apocalypse story. I’ve been going to a creative writing group and getting some awesome feedback, but I’d love to hear your thoughts as well on a key issue: the title. My working title for the story, which I eventually want to turn into a screenplay, is “Sam and Adrian in the zombie apocalypse.” That’s nice for helping me find my Word document, but that’s about the extent of its usefulness. Here are some other titles I’ve considered:
- “Jungleland,” as in the Bruce Springsteen song. It evokes the proper sense of chaos, but that song is very much about a city, and my story takes place mostly on rural roads and in a small town, so the title may be misleading.
- “The Pursuit of Happiness,” an ironic reference to the central plot device: a man is running out of his antidepressant medication and is searching for more in a world where there are no doctors and most pharmacies have been depleted by looters. But this title could also be confusing; I can just see audience members grumbling, “I thought this was the movie where Will Smith solves the Rubix cube!”
- “The Road to Hibbing” because roughly the last half of the story takes place in Hibbing, Minnesota, the hometown of Bob Dylan and also of one of my protagonists. (The first half is about getting there.) The title accurately describes what happens, but I think it sounds a bit too whimsical. It also makes me feel like Irish ballads should be playing during the movie trailer. That’s not really the musical tone I’m going for.
- “Life Is Hard,” which is going to be a recurring line in the story. (It also gives a very subtle nod to a line from a Bob Dylan song: “Life is sad, life is a bust.”) Effective, but a bit heavy-handed, perhaps?
- “Sam’s Town,” as in the Killers album. The name of my character who grew up in Hibbing and returns to his hometown is Sam, so again, an accurate description. However, this title might lead to more disgruntled viewers—this time, people who were expecting to see a Killers tribute (though I do like the idea of using one or two Killers songs on the soundtrack, along with Dylan and Springsteen). A similar option would be “Sam’s Home”; I like this one because it can be interpreted two different ways. I think of this story/screenplay as, among other things, a supernatural twist on the “30-ish guy moving back in with his parents” plot, and “Sam’s Home” riffs on that a bit.
Titles are important, so I’ll probably be thinking about this for a while. I’d love your feedback on these suggestions, along with other title ideas you may have.
I like “The Pursuit of Happiness,” yes, it may cause confusion, but confusion is a form of curiosity in my opinion. Or, it could always be “The Pursuit of Sanity.”
Thanks for that feedback, Carmen! I like “The Pursuit of Sanity”; I’ll consider that one.