Well, the shit that hit the fan is my realisation that an English novel meant for both local and international readers may not do very well with a completely Malay title. I've posted about this in the Absolute Write forums, and a majority of my fellow writers there concur.
And one of those writers suggested a typical The Person-X of Location-Y format of title. Initially, I scoffed at this. I thought it was cheesy and overused. But after an hour or two mulling over the idea (and doing my job), I decided that it won't be so bad. It would allow me to retain my original title and make it understandable!
Pulau Purba shall henceforth be titled The Keeper of Pulau Purba, until an even better title comes along. I chose this title for numerous reasons:
- It brings the main antagonist into the limelight, which is well deserved.
- It brings context to the 'foreign' noun Pulau Purba. Alone, those Malay words are indecipherable to the English speaker, but now, with the other noun and grammar structure in place, what Pulau Purba is, is narrowed down. It's either an object or a place.
- Due to the above, and the ambiguity of the title of 'Keeper', it lends a degree of mystery to the titular things, and the novel at large. This is necessary to engage potential readers.
Another big change to The Keeper of Pulau Purba is a possible removal of at least 4000 words, about 2 chapters based on the average length of my chapters. They're simply slowing the novel down too much, pulling it down. Their contents will be condensed and absorbed by other chapters.
The majority of that wordcount reduction came from one chapter some 3,500 words long. It's basically a chapter sharing the same setting as another one, revolving around one character giving a platoon of conscripts a very long pep talk. Yeah. Not gonna work.
I think it's notable that my last major wordcount reduction exercise came from that same chapter. I removed some 500 words or more from the pep talk. Guess it wasn't enough.
It goes to show that there is always a way to improve your novel, even after 7 drafts. I hope to find more ways to cut down on the length, or to improve the novel's quality.