Tag Archives: narrator

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.

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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)

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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.

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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.