What’s In a Name?

While my novel is no longer my main focus, after I’ve sent out my job application quota of the day, I still devote some free time to my pet projects.

This week, I’ve been banging my head against a wall trying to rewrite my query letter. Yesterday, I think I churned out six different versions and none of them really worked. If I’d been writing on paper, the wastebasket would have been overflowing. I don’t usually beat myself up about writing stuff, but the words “I suck at this!” kept shouting in my head.


In utter despair, I showed my most recent query to a writing friend and together we stumbled upon the problem. My query didn’t suck, my terminology sucked!

I’m writing a sci-fi novel and years ago I chose to call my people-with-psionic-powers “Mages.” Even at the time, I didn’t like it because mage implies magic and magic implies fantasy, not science fiction. What was I thinking?! It’s not only confusing, but it’s not even that original! I might have been cliché if I’d called them Psions, but at least I would have been accurate!

But I kept failing to come up with anything better and I liked the wordplay of my title Earth Mage...which is also misleading *facepalm*. To give me some credit, I did try calling them “The Elect” at one point, but it didn’t stick and I didn’t realize how that one little terminology flaw was dragging me. Names and terms change the entire flavor of your novel–and the difference between the right title and the wrong title can make or break its ability to sell.

That all ends now.

Like a mother naming her future child, I’m making lists, doing research, and will not stop until I’ve found a term and a title that I’m happy with. Not just “okay” with. I want it to click. And then maybe the query will behave.

The devil’s in the details, folks!



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