Pen Name VS. Real Name: The Great Author Debate (Repost)

Hello writer bugs!

(This is a repost. I’m busy getting ready for all spookiness coming in October. Hope you all understand. Also, I signed up for the Amazon Affiliates program again, because I completely failed the first time. Clicking the links helps support this blog. Thank you, writer bees! Stay safe and keep creative! – Love, Victoria aka Lady Jabberwocky.)

I’ve noticed a heated debate within the writing community. When you finally publish a story, should you use your real name or a pen name? For aspiring authors, it’s a tough question. Have no fear, I’m here to help!

Today, I’m taking a look at the pros and cons of both sides of the argument, to help you decide what name will be printed on your book cover.

See the source image

Pros of a Pen Name

  • The power on anonymity: Some people find freedom in using a new moniker. And If you are sharing a personal life story, you can keep it private. Your boss and your church friends won’t have any idea.
  • Choose a more ‘writerly’ name: Create a memorable, eye catching name that suits the genre you are writing in. Pen names give you a chance to give yourself the name you’ve always wanted.
  • Dip your toe in multiple genres. Be fluid and experiment in various genres with multiple personas. And if you fail to sell enough books, simply reinvent yourself.

Cons of a Pen Name

  • Difficult Marketing: It’s harder to spread the word on your book under a nom de plume. Keeping your true identity a secret may hurt your book promoting process.
  • Struggle with building an author-reader connection. And it takes some time for the name to gain recognition.
  • Establishing a brand new persona. With a pen name, you may have to balance a double life. That might mean managing multiple social media accounts and writer websites etc.

Authors That Used Pen Names


See the source image

Pros of Using Your Real Name

  • Pride: That’s your name on the cover of the book. Sweet success belongs to you. Some writers dream about seeing their name in a bookstore. It’s a major accomplishment.
  • Easier to promote your work with your real name. Friends, family members, neighbors etc. will know it’s you. And you can do more local promos as well.
  • One name, one identity. No need to manage multiple social media accounts or author websites. Also, forget the hassle or confusion of a fake moniker. Readers and business associates know how to address you.

Cons of Using Your Real Name

  • Your name may sound similar to another famous name. That might cause confusion to readers.
  • You may have a forgettable or fairly common name. Shout out to the John Smiths of the world.
  • You are writing within a genre where books written by the opposite gender sell better. Unfortunately, sexism against authors is real.

When you publish a story, would you use a pen name or your real name? And what’s your opinion on nom de plumes? Talk to me in the comments!

Stay safe and keep writing!

Write with heart,

Lady Jabberwocky

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Should a Writer be the Same Race & Gender as Their Narrator?

Hello Writer Bees!

So, the other day, I was scrolling through Twitter when a post caught my attention. It was a #WritingQ. The question was: Does a writer need to be the same race or gender as their narrator?

As a female writer with a male narrator, I felt the need to dip my toes into these controversial waters. Let’s talk about this for a second.

My Opinion.

Does an author need to be the same gender, race or sexuality as their narrator? In my opinion? No. That’s part of creative writing. We use our imaginations to create realistic characters, even if they’re much different than us. A narrator doesn’t have to be a carbon copy of the writer. And a writer doesn’t have to limit themselves and write only in a box. Don’t be afraid to write out of your comfort zone. When we do create characters outside of our own experience, it’s important to do them justice. Here are some quick tips for writing a character from a different background.

  • Be aware of stereotypes. Step above the stereotypes. If it comes off as cliché, a character will lose their authenticity. Also, if it’s not done properly, a character could come off as offensive.
  • Do your research.  – When a character comes from a different cultural background, research that culture. What names are common in that ethnicity? What are some typical meals? Do they have certain habits, rules, or traditions? Dig deep, you may actually learn something.
  • Be open to writing a character unlike yourself. Challenge yourself and stay open minded. The fun part about writing is stepping into someone else’s shoes – someone else’s brain – and telling their story.

My Experience

As many of you know, I’ve been writing my murder mystery WIP for quite some time. Many times, my main characters have made appearances on this blog. On paper, my narrator and I are completely different.

  • My narrator – Oscar Fitzgerald – is a young Irish man living in the 1920s. He/him pronouns. Attracted to women.
  • I’m a Puerto-Rican-Italian millennial. She/her pronouns. Attracted to… Mister Jabberwocky.

And maybe some readers will be put off by that stark difference. How can a woman writer do a man justice? Impossible!  I can understand why some readers feel that way. I’ve seen some men poorly portray women in fiction. Truth is, choosing a male narrator was barely a thought to me. I honestly thought nothing of it.  When I began crafting my detective duo and their dynamic, both characters being men fell into place naturally. If it works, it works. Why fix it?

How do I go about writing in male perspective? Frankly, I don’t set out to. That’s the secret. When I sit down to write, I don’t go “Okay, let me pretend I’m a dude now.” For me, gender isn’t often considered. Usually, I focus more on the character’s personality more than anything else. I keep our similarities and our differences in mind at all times. That mindset guides me through writing a male narrator. And look, I’m not perfect. I’m sure I’m missing some nuances of being a guy, especially one from the 1920s. But I do my best, that’s all anyone can do.


I want to hear from you. How do you go about writing a character from a different background? How are you similar to your narrator or main character? How are you different? Let me know in the comments.

I understand this can be a touchy, controversial subject for some people. Everyone has their own opinion. Please be respectful in the comments. I’d appreciate it.

Stay safe and keep writing!

— Lady Jabberwocky

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How and When to Cut Unnecessary Characters From Your WIP

Hello writer bees!

Today, I’m sharing some tips on removing unnecessary characters from the narrative. No, I’m not talking about killing off a character, I’m talking about not giving life to begin with. While you are in the drafting phase, know that some fictional folks don’t always make it into the finished product. And that’s fine. How do you know a character is useless? When do you “kill your darlings”, as they say? Let’s figure that out together, shall we?

everything is trash, except for these books!; 9.26.18

My Personal Experience

This dilemma has actually happened to me before. Hopefully, you can learn something from my personal experience as a writer.

A couple months back, I decided to remove one of my suspects from my murder mystery WIP. I thought about it for quite sometime. He wasn’t a poorly constructed character, far from it. However, I realized, the story could survive without him, that his presence wouldn’t be missed if he was gone. And that was a problem. If Also, part of the reason I kept him around was because I wanted five suspects total. Bad idea. Now, I realize four suspects is enough. And perhaps this rejected suspect idea can be reused in another story someday. You never know.

A bit of change had to be done. For consistency sake, scenes needed to be rearranged and edited, plot threads knitted together. Relationships between characters shifted a smidge. An aspect of their nature transferred to another character, adding complexity to their personality. Very quickly, I learned an existing character could do the work of an unnecessary character. Because I removed this suspect, I feel like my story is much stronger without him than with him. I believe like I made the right decision.

Function over Beauty

At the end of the day, every character needs a function. Why is this character in the story? What purpose do they serve? What role do they play? How do they move the plot along? If you can’t answer these simple questions, that’s a real problem. Try to put each character under the microscope and really consider what function they serve in the grand scheme of the story. Then, you can start weeding out the undesirables and letting the true stars of the show shine. And listen, just because one character doesn’t fit one narrative, that doesn’t mean you can’t recycle that character idea in another story. Maybe they’ll be a better fit somewhere else instead. Save ’em for the sequel, I say.

Plot Hole in One

No matter how useless the character, when you do decided to remove them, there will be an empty space. And you don’t want your reader to know or notice a missing piece in the narrative. Think of it like hiding a hole in the wall by putting a picture frame over it, if that makes sense. Be certain all plot holes are covered and tied up any loose threads. That all the relationships and personalities of the existing characters are solid. It might take some rewriting, but don’t be afraid of a little extra drafting. The end result may be even better after these rewrites.

No Tropes Welcomed

Look, frankly speaking, I don’t think “trope-free literature” is a thing. Don’t be surprised if you find a cliché or two in your work. Keep in mind, too many tropes and clichés will drag the narrative down into total boredom. If the character is considered an overused stereotype, they probably fall in the “cut” category. Insist on keeping this extra character? Okay. Trust in your instinct as a writer. Nothing a little reworking can’t fix. Be creative and original and break the mold of a trope. Flush out a character’s personality and motivation, giving their real depth and complexity.


Bottom line, every character needs a function. No one wants dead weight in their story. Really consider what purpose a character holds in your narrative. Weed out unoriginal characters. And if you do decide to remove the character, the changes should make the plot stronger.

Have you ever had to cut a character from your story? Are you considering it? Talk about it in the comments. I’d love to hear from you.

Keep writing and stay safe, writer bees.

— Lady Jabberwocky

Celebrating 600 Followers – Excerpt from Mystery WIP

Hello Writer Bees!

It looks like I’ve reached 600 Followers on WordPress! What a great present!

Thank you for all of your kindness and support. Every sweet comment makes me smile. Between my new job, preparing for the holidays, writing a novel and updating this blog, I’ve been juggling a lot lately. Knowing I have such wonderful readers out there keeps me afloat.

So, to celebrate this milestone, I’m doing something I rarely do. I’m sharing an excerpt from my WIP, as terrifying as that sounds. Usually, I don’t like others reading my unfinished drafts, but tis the season for exceptions. You’ve all been so lovely to me, I wanted to share a piece of my NaNoWriMo project with you all. Be gentle, I’m still drafting. Enjoy!


 This is my story just as much as it is his story. Fifty-fifty. And I’m going to tell it to you straight.

If he didn’t have his morning paper and cup of coffee by eight o’clock sharp, then he claimed to have a headache for the rest of the day. This meant that I too would have a headache for the rest of the day.

As I left our shoebox apartments, a brick of humidity hit me square in the chest. The Summer of 1924 was unbearably hot. A gift, perhaps, to make up for the blizzard filled Winter we had. Sure, I could go on and on about the smell of rotten garbage and livestock sweat, but I’ll spare you from that cruel and unusual punishment. 

Welcome to Brooklyn. More specifically, Coney Island. Even more specifically, Mermaid avenue. You will find the irony in this street name later on. Trust me. 

You know, some fools out there think that the streets here are paved with gold. That opportunity is dripping out of leaky faucets. Some will even cross oceans just to touch their nose to the sidewalk. What a bunch of suckers.

Forget about those glossy postcards, dispensing pictures of an unspoiled city. Of course, you’ve got those classic landmarks swarmed by tourists, like Central park, Empire State building, that place on Houston street that sells the best bagels. Don’t be too impressed. Let me tell you about the real monuments, the kind I strolled through every morning. We got monuments not found in brochures.  Those are the ones you should be looking at. 

Like the guy who digs through garbage cans named Mister Thumbs.  No one knows his real name. Everyone calls him Mister Thumbs. Each day, he smiles at passers by and jabs his thumb to the sky, happy as a clam. Rumor has it that he lives in a mansion.

Off Neptune street, a dewdropper fished for spare change. An exhausted mother, with raccoon eyes pushed a wailing bundle of colic in a carriage. And let’s not forget the string of Mrs. Popov’s unmentionables being hung in an alleyway. Those are the real genuine landmarks.  

My usual trek through the jungle wasn’t too complicated. Any fool with half a brain could follow the route. Cross Mermaid Avenue, pass the church, walk all the way to the hardware store. Jazz music  poured out of the windows overhead. Church bells clashed with a rebellious trumpet. I weaved through the bustle. You can’t help but find yourself marching to a beat. It’s an insistent, impatient cluster of bees settled under your rib cage. And if you stop, you get trampled over without a second thought. 

They call New York the great melting pot. And it is, really. But they never tell you what’s in the pot. What’s cooking for dinner? Ma called it a big stew, use whatever leftovers from last night’s supper that you’ve got. It will all taste fine, just the same. Gravy is gravy. 

You know, this may be the biggest city in the world, but there are these tight knit pockets no one ever hears about. Makeshift families of neighbors that relied on each other. Where everybody knows you, your mother, and those distant relatives. I always liked that about the city.  Every borough, every street is a home town. The patchwork of this quilt is top notch.


Hope you enjoyed this snippet from chapter one. That was my narrator, Oscar Fitzgerald, showing off his side of Brooklyn, 1924.

I’m opening the floor to you guys. What do you want to see more of on the blog? More on my personal experience as a writer? More creative writing tips? More short stories? Let me know in the comments. I’m really interested in what you all have to say.

Once again, thank you all for the support. Stay safe and keep writing!

— Lady Jabberwocky

Pen Name VS. Real Name: The Great Writer Debate

Hello writer bees!

So, lately, I’ve noticed a heated debate within the writing community. When you finally publish a story, should you use your real name or a pen name? For aspiring authors, it’s a tough question. Have no fear, I’m here to help!

Today, I’m taking a look at the pros and cons of both sides of the argument, to help you decide what name will be printed on your book cover.

See the source image

Pros of a Pen Name

  • The power on anonymity: Some people find freedom in using a new moniker. And If you are sharing a personal life story, you can keep it private. Your boss and your church friends won’t have any idea.
  • Choose a more ‘writerly’ name: Create a memorable, eye catching name that suits the genre you are writing in. Pen names give you a chance to give yourself the name you’ve always wanted.
  • Dip your toe in multiple genres. Be fluid and experiment in various genres with multiple personas. And if you fail to sell enough books, simply reinvent yourself.

Cons of a Pen Name

  • Difficult Marketing: It’s harder to spread the word on your book under a nom de plume. Keeping your true identity a secret may hurt your book promoting process.
  • Struggle with building an author-reader connection. And it takes some time for the name to gain recognition.
  • Establishing a brand new persona. With a pen name, you may have to balance a double life. That might mean managing multiple social media accounts and writer websites etc.

Authors That Used Pen Names

  • J.K. Rowling (Joanne Rowling)
  • Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens)
  • Lewis Carrol (Charles Lutwidge Dodgson)
  • Dr. Seuss (Theodore Seuss Geisel)
  • Stan Lee ( Stanley Martin Lieber)

See the source image

Pros of Using Your Real Name

  • Pride: That’s your name on the cover of the book. Sweet success belongs to you. Some writers dream about seeing their name in a bookstore. It’s a major accomplishment.
  • Easier to promote your work with your real name. Friends, family members, neighbors etc. will know it’s you. And you can do more local promos as well.
  • One name, one identity. No need to manage multiple social media accounts or author websites. Also, forget the hassle or confusion of a fake moniker. Readers and business associates know how to address you.

Cons of Using Your Real Name

  • Your name may sound similar to another famous name. That might cause confusion to readers.
  • You may have a forgettable or fairly common name. (Shout out to the John Smiths of the world.)
  • You are writing within a genre where books written by the opposite gender sell better. Unfortunately, sexism against authors is real.

Would you use a pen name or your real name when you publish a book? And what’s your take on nom de plumes? Talk to me in the comments!

Write with heart,

Lady Jabberwocky

Changing My Main Character’s Name after 5 YEARS

Hello Writer Beans!

Well, It has been a busy, and emotionally exhausting, couple of days. Lots of work writing to do. However, I did have a small burst of inspiration for that work-in-progress novel of mine. Frankly, I’ve been struggling with writer’s block with my WIP. I jotted a couple of new ideas down, for whenever I find time to write for myself. Which, let me tell you, is such a luxury when you’re a freelance writer.

Then I had a thought. Recently, I’ve been thinking about changing the name of a character I have had for five years. Although this may be a difficult transition for me personally (He’s had the same name for years, calling him anything else will be strange), it’s been a nagging thought for the past couple weeks.

A Bit of Backstory

Years ago, I had an idea for a character, a detective named Henry B. Cooper (Later H.B. Cooper.) In short, he’s a grumpy old man, from across the pond, who resides in New York during the 1920’s. No matter what I was writing, this character was there in the back of my head, sitting in the living room of my brain, waiting for me to tell his story. “I’m right here, dear, whenever you’re ready.” (Me talking to imaginary people is probably unhealthy right?)

If you cracked open my head, this is what it’d look like inside.

After I graduated college, I wanted to write a novel. Although I was split between fantasy and mystery, my two most beloved genres, I ended up choosing mystery. I ended up choosing Mister Cooper. You’ve probably seen snippets of him in short stories I’ve posted on this blog. Even 5 years later, I’ve still very fond of him.

Recently, I’ve considered changing his name. As any writer knows, names are so important to the character. It’s like naming a child. (A fictional child that won’t stop bothering you. ) This blog is about creating an open dialogue for writers. So let’s pretend we’re in sweatpants, eating salty potato chips, and I’m trying to explain to you the reasoning behind renaming my first born.

Did The Research

Look, I’m not a historian, by any means. However, since I am writing a historical story, the facts have to be straight. The names I picked, for all the characters, had to fit the time period they lived in. Simply as that. For example, my narrator’s name is Oscar Fitzgerald. Not only does it reflect the early 1900s, it also reflects his heritage. And I wanted to do the same thing for the detective.

Me doing research at 1 in the morning.

I knew the last name ‘Cooper’ was a common English name, but I never dug deep into it. Apparently, in Victorian England, surnames often originated from religious text (Lewis, Thomas, James) or one’s occupation (Taylor, Baker, Smith). Since my detective is born during this era, these are factors I will have to take into consideration.

Other Coopers?

Okay, this might be a silly worry, but it still bugs me. H.B. Cooper is very similar to some other characters, both real and fictional, that I know of. First off, around the time I created Mister Cooper, my family got a dog, who coincidently, was also named Cooper. While I did like the fact that these two, unintentionally, shared a name, now I feel like the detective needs his own identity.

See the source image
How you see your Main Character.

Second, for the mystery nerds out there, H.B Cooper sounds a lot like D.B. Cooper. Plus there’s like two other detective Coopers in fiction already. I may be overthinking this, but I think my main character should have a moniker that stand out a bit more.

Thank You, Next

I have a couple ideas in mind for his new name. For some reason, I’ve always loved the name ‘Barnaby’, from an old Laurel and Hardy film I grew up with. Maybe I’ll play around with that. Frankly I still need to do more research. Once I find the right name, things should click into place. At least I hope.

You ever walk into a room and say to yourself, “Man, I should change the color of these walls.” Right now, I feel like this character needs a new coat of paint. It’s not a bad thing, it’s just something I think he needs. It’ll be hard, losing that name he’s had for years, but this is just a step in the evolution process. His personality and backstory won’t change, just his name tag.

Got any ideas for a name? I’m curious to see what you guys think. Also, have you ever had to change a longtime character’s name?

Have a lovely weekend everyone.

Write with Heart,

Lady Jabberwocky

5 Types of Narrators in Story Writing – Breaking Down the Basics

Hello Writer Bugs!

Today, we are going back to basics in story writing. What point of view is best for your WIP? Let’s break down the different kinds of narrators in a story.

(Psst! Don’t forget to check out that Patreon page! Keep this party going! )

First Person Narrator

Pronouns: I, my, me.

Example: The Narrator from Moby Dick. ” Call me Ishmael.”

First Person is a very personal perspective. The reader has a front row seat to this character’s feelings, thoughts and experience in the world. This can be either a main character or a distant observer. By using the first person narrative, it puts a limit to what the narrator, and the reader, knows and doesn’t know. This kind of narrator cannot know

Second Person Narrator

Pronouns: You, Your.

A Second Person Narrator talks directly to the audience, enveloping the reader into the story itself. Think of it like playing a choose your own adventure game, where the reader is a character. “You do this, you see that.” This one is quite rare in fiction; It’s more for technical writing. It’s difficult to perfect, but not impossible, so don’t be discouraged to experiment with this style.

Example: If I’m remembering correctly, Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern has some chapters using second person that are utterly enchanting.

Third Person Narrator (Limited)

Pronouns: He, she, they.

Another popular option that gives the writer more freedom to move around, follow multiple characters and explore multiple rooms of the house, so to speak. Usually, the third person narrator isn’t an actual character at all. It’s a more objective viewpoint, which can lead to a lack of connection with the reader. The audience is privy to more information about the plot, information the main characters may not even be aware of, but not the characters personal thoughts and feelings.

Omniscient Narrator

Usually third person. Uses ‘he, she, they’ pronouns.

With this one, the narrator knows everything, from feelings to inner thoughts. Imagine an all knowing, all seeing God-like being looking down at the world and relaying the story to the reader. Some can argue that it’s the author themselves telling the story. I’ll let you be the judge.

Unreliable Narrator

Usually first person, usually undependable.

Some narrators just can’t be trusted, can they? The viewpoint of this narrator is very biased, clouded by their own, possibly flawed judgement. Other characters in the story may not be described accurately because of the narrator’s own perception. Certain events can be skewed. Even the narrator himself could be not what he appears to be

Example: Check out the narrator from The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie. He may know more about the murder than he is letting on. Wink wink.

Choose Your Narrator Wisely

Really take the time to think about whom the narrator will be and how well they can tell your/their story. It’s important for the reader to really connect and be engaged with the character or viewpoint chosen. Think of it like this, the narrator is the reader’s vehicle as they ride the rollercoaster that is your story. That makes sense right?

If you are struggling to decide which narrative you want to use, try multiple styles. No harm in experimenting. It’s like reading an essay for school out loud before handing it in. You’ll know what fits your story best when you read it.

Write with Heart,

Lady Jabberwocky

Putting things into perspective

One of the first things you must decide before writing a story is how the story will be told. What point of view is best for the story you want to tell? To me, there are three main narratives, first person, second person and third person. Other, more specific styles of narration are derived from these three forms.

First Person

Pronouns: I, my, me.

The reader gets to walk in the shoes of the narrator as the story unfolds. This means the reader has front row seats to this character’s feelings and thoughts and also how the narrator sees the world and other characters. It’s a very personal kind of perspective. However, by using the first person narrative, it puts a limit to what the narrator, and by extension, the reader, learns and experiences.

Second Person

Pronouns: You, Your.

This one is quite rare in fiction; It’s more for technical writing. “You do this, you see that.” It’s difficult to perfect, but not impossible, so don’t be discouraged to experiment with this style. Second person is like playing a choose your own adventure game, where the reader is a character.

Third Person

Pronouns: He, she, they.

Another popular option that gives the writer more freedom to move around, follow multiple characters and explore multiple rooms of the house, so to speak. It’s a more objective viewpoint, which can lead to a lack of connection with the reader. The audience is privy to more information about the plot, information the main characters may not even be aware of, but not the characters personal thoughts and feelings.

Omniscient Narrator

Usually third person

Now we’re getting into more specific stuff. With this one, the narrator knows everything, from feelings to inner thoughts. Think of it like a God like being looking down at the world and relaying the story. Some can argue that it’s the author themselves telling the story.

Unreliable Narrator

Usually first person

Some narrators just can’t be trusted. The viewpoint of this narrator is very biased. Other characters may not be described accurately because of the narrators own perspective. Certain events can be skewed. Even the narrator himself could be not what he appears to be (Check out the narrator from The Murder of Roger Ackroyd by Agatha Christie).

Really take the time to think about whom the narrator will be and how well they can tell your/their story. It’s important for the reader to really connect and be engaged with the character or viewpoint chosen. If you are struggling to decide which narrative you want to use, try multiple styles. It’s like reading an essay for school out loud before handing it in. You’ll know what fits your story best when you read it.