How to Create Your Perfect Pen Name
(The True Story of Terry Irving Became Mike N. Mauss is at the end.)
Bill Ferris on Aug 17 2013 | Filed under: Humor
Nom de plume. Pseudonym. Literary double. Even the term “pen name” has pen names. Now you’re thinking of using one; maybe your real name is hard to spell, or you want to differentiate your brand, or you don’t want your ex-wife to know about some extra income. You thought naming a baby was hard? Try naming yourself when there’s money and fame at stake. Robert Galbraith nearly died of starvation before J.K. Rowling gave him a cot and fed him three squares a day. Then there are genre concerns — you can’t write about a street-smart private eye if your pen name is Mellificient Elfwing, and Dashiel Hardcase presents problems if you’re writing fantasy about unicorns. Here are some time-tested methods to create a pen name that will be more famous and successful than whatever nonsense is on your birth certificate.
Method 1: Found Object
Picture your protagonist’s bedroom. What’s the first thing she lays eyes on when she wakes up in the morning? If you write horror, it could be a writhing eldritch horror creeping toward…yikes, let’s start over. If you write YA, the first thing your protagonist sees is probably a book — nobody loves books as much as protagonists in young adult novels. From there you can free-associate names like Henrietta Papercut or Penelope Inksmudge or Elizabeth Spinecrack or Angelique Deadtree or Daphne Dustjacket. Easy as pie. (Those names are up for grabs, by the way. You can claim them in the comments section.)
If you come up with Ke$ha L. Ron Rico, please stop writing, because you have terrible taste in everything.
Method 2: Use a Formula
Quick, what’s the first name of your protagonist’s favorite singer? What’s the first initial of your least-favorite Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle? Now tell me your favorite brand of liquor. For me, Robert Plant plus Raphael plus Kraken rum gives me Robert R. Kraken — I’ve already harangued my parents for not giving me this name. You’re on the right track if you end up with something like John D. Morgan or Nico R. Dubonnet. If you come up with Ke$ha L. Ron Rico, please stop writing, because you have terrible taste in everything.
Your pen name will need her own website and Twitter account. Her own book tour. Her own wardrobe. Family history. Government-issued ID card. Passport. Swiss bank account. A chalet in the Alps far from your obligations and creditors.
Method 3: Easy as A, B, C (but mostly A)
Method 4: The Mary Sue
For the Rest CLICK HERE – Writer Unboxed » How to Create Your Perfect Pen Name.
[Terry: As for Mike N. Mauss, it was extremely complicated. My dog’s name is Mike and the cat’s name is Mouse. Mike ‘n Mouse. Mike N. Mauss.]
- Freedom in a Pen Name (thepoeticsproject.com)
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- JK Rowling Has Her Own Bachman Book (badassdigest.com)
- Help me choose a pen name! (mindlovemisery.wordpress.com)