Help me choose a pseudonym
November 24, 2010 10:33 PM   Subscribe

Help me choose a pseudonym

I'm planning to put some of my fiction writing on line and I need to come up with a pen name so that my friends, family, and coworkers aren't horrified by my evil writenings.

Here's what I have so far. Which of these do you like best?

Joe Decker

Cody Woodmark

Jack Workman

Hal Clayton

Stanley Warcard

William Heekner
posted by eeby to Writing & Language (75 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
 
Joe Decker.
posted by Savannah at 10:39 PM on November 24, 2010


What are the main characteristics you want to convey with your writing?

What are the parts of your character you want to communicate?

I vote for BOURBON MCKEEBLER but I know nothing about you.
posted by Juliet Banana at 10:39 PM on November 24, 2010 [11 favorites]


There's a photographer named Joe Decker whom I know slightly. There is also a gentleman who claims to be the "world's fittest man" who is also named Joe Decker; I don't know him at all. But something to think about.

If I were coming up with another pseudonym, I would be sure that it was one that I could get "MyPseudonym.com" for. Just in case I got popular.

"Bourbon McKeebler" is one of the greatest pseudonyms of all time. But what else could one expect from "Juliet Banana"?

I guess of that list, I would vote for "Cody Woodmark" if CodyWoodmark.com is available. "Warcard" sounds ridiculous, as does "Heekner".
posted by Sidhedevil at 10:50 PM on November 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


I just noticed that your list includes the name of one of my coworkers (indirectly, one first name + another last name.) But I still vote for just Frank.
posted by sanko at 10:55 PM on November 24, 2010


"What are the main characteristics you want to convey with your writing?"

Doom and gloom.

Heekner is ridiculous, eh? What about just "Eekner?"
posted by eeby at 11:00 PM on November 24, 2010


I'm going to third "Bourbon McKeebler"
posted by sarastro at 11:02 PM on November 24, 2010 [7 favorites]


Bourbon McKeebler is by far the best.
posted by The World Famous at 11:06 PM on November 24, 2010


I'm not going to use "Bourbon McKeebler!" It sounds like a food product for drunken pederasts.

Come on people! Let's get serious. My literary career is at stake.

What about "Gerard McGloobe?"
posted by eeby at 11:07 PM on November 24, 2010 [2 favorites]


Bourbon McKeebler is surprisingly euphonious.
posted by eggkeeper at 11:12 PM on November 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


Ay caramba.
posted by eeby at 11:15 PM on November 24, 2010


For doom and gloom, Warcard's not a bad last name, suggestive of some kind of occult undercurrent. Don't know about Stanley though. Sounds like somebody's little brother (all apologies, Stanleys).

Michael Warcard

a good woody sort of name
posted by philip-random at 11:16 PM on November 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


Use Bourbon somewhere in there. Don't use Gerard McGloobe. Unless you meant McGlobe? What sort of doom and gloom are you going for? What are some authors who are about the same tone as you? That would help. Otherwise you're going to keep getting Frank and Bourbon.
posted by shinyshiny at 11:18 PM on November 24, 2010


I have Googled and there do seem to be people named "Heekner" in real life. It sounds like a fake name to me. It also sounds like Heekner should be played by Wally Cox or Don Knotts.

Of course, maybe that's what you're going for, I don't know.
posted by Sidhedevil at 11:20 PM on November 24, 2010


Joe Decker

Cody Woodmark

Hal Clayton

These are the most...realistic? writerly-sounding? on the list, to me.
posted by lhall at 11:22 PM on November 24, 2010


"Hal Clayton" has the advantage of being a character name used by Mark Twain in at least two of his books--Tom Sawyer and Roughing It.
posted by Sidhedevil at 11:24 PM on November 24, 2010


I also vote against Joe Decker because ... there's this award-winning photographer named Joe Decker that I know. (Okay, it's clearly the same guy. To the best of my knowledge, I don't know Sidhedevil. Funny.)

Hal Clayton sounds best to me.
posted by wintersweet at 11:28 PM on November 24, 2010


I think you need another last name for your first name. Like Fitzgerald Warcard. Or Woodmark Warcard. Or Henner Newman. Or West McDonnell. Something along those lines.
posted by 6550 at 11:28 PM on November 24, 2010 [4 favorites]


FYI, "Joe Dekker" is a character on Law & Order: Los Angeles (but perhaps you knew that already).

I'll vote for Hal Clayton.
posted by puritycontrol at 11:30 PM on November 24, 2010


How about a three-name name? I think those can be more memorable. You could combine from your list - William Stanley Warcard, for example.
posted by Conrad Cornelius o'Donald o'Dell at 11:31 PM on November 24, 2010


Heckner Clayton Woodmark
posted by The World Famous at 11:40 PM on November 24, 2010


(The reason people keep recommending Bourbon McKeebler is that the options that you have asked us to comment on are just as fake/dumb sounding as Burbon McKeebler, but without the benefit of reminding us of Bourbon and elves.)
posted by The World Famous at 11:44 PM on November 24, 2010 [16 favorites]


Bourbon Warcard
posted by londongeezer at 11:46 PM on November 24, 2010 [2 favorites]


Chuck Thunderbone
posted by Menthol at 12:13 AM on November 25, 2010 [6 favorites]


Reginald Fitzgerald Dinosaur Hunter, DDS.
posted by cmonkey at 12:16 AM on November 25, 2010


Sir Pumpkin Longshanks

Jon Stall

Edgar Allan Pooh

Wilhelm Schnotz
posted by SkylitDrawl at 12:36 AM on November 25, 2010 [3 favorites]


Sorry about Edgar Allan Pooh. Sometimes I am just wholly inappropriate.
posted by SkylitDrawl at 12:36 AM on November 25, 2010 [4 favorites]


Joe Nova
posted by clavdivs at 12:51 AM on November 25, 2010


Hal Clayton sounds good
posted by clavdivs at 12:54 AM on November 25, 2010


Hal Clayton is the one which sounds least made-up and silly. Joe Decker a close second. All the others are out. They look like anagrams or in-jokes where it's obviously not real and you're supposed to guess what it is really. Why not Lorne Guyland?

My advice would be to use the (regular-sounding) name of a minor/obscure character from a work you like. Aficionados will get the reference, other people will just think it's a name.
posted by AmbroseChapel at 1:05 AM on November 25, 2010


Kanga McIntyre
posted by philip-random at 1:23 AM on November 25, 2010


[is a fiction editor for a publisher]

The first four are the best, for a value of best--the last two are obviously fake and feel contrived. That said, you'd hardly be the first person to have an obviously made up name.

I'm assuming that you're doing this with an eye to building some sort of name for yourself and the hopes of eventual publication--if you're not, you can safely disregard all of this.

If you *are* after publication (or at least internet fame), do a little research. Google each of those names--do you get any hits? If there are 3 million hits for the first one and 917 hits for the second, use the second name.

Are the domains for each of those names available? What about the Twitter accounts? Wordpress blogs? Goodreads account? Maybe none of these services matter to you right now, but I'd still suggest at least signing up for them under your pseudonym. Even if you end up using them, leaving them open to use by other people can be quite problematic for your publicity efforts and connecting with readers--you may as well stem off potential problems while you can, you know?
posted by MeghanC at 1:31 AM on November 25, 2010 [9 favorites]


Eudolphus Grimm or possibly Hezekiah Mackerel
posted by le morte de bea arthur at 1:41 AM on November 25, 2010


Gavin Shelton
posted by itstheclamsname at 2:24 AM on November 25, 2010


Karl Friedrich von Wuppertal
posted by Bruce H. at 2:36 AM on November 25, 2010


I think you need three names, one of which is an initial, one of which is a last name in the wrong place, and one of which stakes out a useful spot alphabetically when compared with other authors in your genre. The surname should be short and easy to spell and memorable and not already belong to a famous author in the genre. The first name should start with a less common letter.

W. Clayton Ford

Bonus: you can sign things with "Hal" and confuse all your readers.
posted by SMPA at 3:15 AM on November 25, 2010 [4 favorites]


Doom and gloom, eh? I find a good trick for that is to combine an ordinary, plain name with a biblical one. Something like...

James Andronicus
Malachi Smith
Saul Grey

etc.

I like "Nathan Salenius", too. I actually knew someone with the surname "Salenius" and I always thought it was quite wonderful.
posted by Decani at 3:28 AM on November 25, 2010


What if you choose a suggestion from here, and they go searching for your pseudonym and this ask.mefi thread is the top google search result? Then your cover is blown.
posted by jozxyqk at 4:16 AM on November 25, 2010 [6 favorites]


If nothing else, these are all suitable suggestions for the next "name my cat!" post.
posted by emelenjr at 4:16 AM on November 25, 2010


Bad puns?

Desmond Paring (Despairing)
Mel Ankly (Melancholy)

I like Decani's biblical names.
posted by matsho at 5:40 AM on November 25, 2010


Hal Clayton is the best option you've given us (and my favorite, FWIW)

Joe Decker - unfair to the photographer

Cody Woodmark - Cody isn't a badass name anymore because it's been ruined by people like Kathie Lee Gifford and that awful Suite Life show about the kids living in the hotel.

Jack Workman - Jack is fine but Workman is contrived

Stanley Warcard - Stanley gives off a whiff of the wimp; Stan, maybe?

William Heekner - Heekner is, well, meek sounding.

In high school a friend always tried to advance the pen name Terpsichore McGillicuddy.
posted by carmicha at 5:56 AM on November 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


Well, speaking as one who's used a pseudonym for writing I would say -- don't. It can just cause confusion in the long run. You do suggest you want to protect yourself from the disapproval of family and friends, and that's a legitimate reason, but still...

I used a pseudonym because I felt my real name was too hard to pronounce correctly... and it is, but hell, at least it's distinctive. So after a very short time I gave up the pseudonym.

That said, I would agree with AmbroseChapel and go with a name that sounds as real as possible. Not like, say Mahatma Kane Jeeves (W.C. Fields) or Cordwainer Bird (Harlan Ellison) even Alan Smithee (any film director who was less than happy with the finished product). :-)
posted by Guy_Inamonkeysuit at 6:01 AM on November 25, 2010


I am stealing all these names for characters in my next book. Helloooooooo Eudolphus Grimm!
posted by headspace at 6:09 AM on November 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


Kevin Spacey played a character named Chris Sabian in The Negotiator. I loved that name. Not very doom and gloom tho'.
posted by TWinbrook8 at 6:28 AM on November 25, 2010


Spooge McSporran
posted by Artw at 6:34 AM on November 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


Hal Clayton!
posted by ladygypsy at 6:45 AM on November 25, 2010


Agnes Senga
posted by mippy at 6:45 AM on November 25, 2010


The greatest actual real name I ever heard was so great that I'm not going to repeat it here, because it is easily searchable and I don't want my poor classmate to know I'm constantly citing their name as the most awesome ever.

But I will say that the surname was pretty awesome, and was "Arkenstone."

I think "Hal Arkenstone" has a nice doomy ring to it, for example. Or just use a first initial: "J. Arkenstone."
posted by pts at 7:12 AM on November 25, 2010


I like Hal Clayton, too!
posted by two lights above the sea at 7:27 AM on November 25, 2010


As a native New Englander, I find "Warcard" hard to say, even in my head. If I read your stuff and really liked it, I would hesitate to tell my friends about it, due to anxiety over having to say "Warcard" out loud.

Cody Woodmark, Jack Workman, and Hal Clayton are all fine, though to me Hal Clayton sounds like an old man--which could be either a plus or a minus for you.

I like Decani's semi-biblical sounding names, especially Saul Grey.
posted by pompelmo at 7:27 AM on November 25, 2010


I like Jack Workman.
posted by tetralix at 7:28 AM on November 25, 2010


Combine your father's given name with the the first school you ever attended.
posted by bonobothegreat at 8:13 AM on November 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


You asked if Eekner would be better than Heekner. In my opinion, both sound ovely peculiar, but with a slight tweak you could have Eichner, which I like. Possibly Merton Eichner.
posted by grizzled at 8:24 AM on November 25, 2010


I've read every suggested name in this thread and don't like any of them.
You think that's why I never finished my novel?
posted by fivesavagepalms at 8:25 AM on November 25, 2010


I would read a book by Bourbon McKeebler just to say I'd done so.

Otherwise, Hal Clayton is a good one. Although Clayton Hale sounds even better.
posted by elizardbits at 8:28 AM on November 25, 2010


Henry Grimsmith Jr.

Archy Darkmaier

Roman Warcard

Victor Gray

J. G. Workmann
posted by marimeko at 8:38 AM on November 25, 2010


Horton Ardmore
Navin Lurch
Doreen Garrunt (why not?)
Lank Wohble
posted by carsonb at 8:42 AM on November 25, 2010


Stan, maybe? from Carmicha
Yes - Stan, even Stosh. I know a few men who go by Stosh as a shortened version of Stanley. Love it!
posted by marimeko at 8:45 AM on November 25, 2010


Stanley Watermaker
posted by jasondigitized at 9:09 AM on November 25, 2010


a good woody sort of name

Caribou Gorn.
posted by flabdablet at 9:22 AM on November 25, 2010


Thor Hungstud

Okay, that's more like your pornstar name. Never mind.

How about taking some other writer/public figure names and combining them? Sagan Kingsley. Pratchett Murakami. Stanislaw O'bama.
posted by It's Never Lurgi at 9:24 AM on November 25, 2010


Jack is fine but Workman is contrived

I know two real live people with that surname.
posted by deadmessenger at 9:32 AM on November 25, 2010


Thanks for the help, guys. I've carefully reviewed every suggestion here, taken a good look at my life, and decided to give up writing.
posted by eeby at 10:24 AM on November 25, 2010 [18 favorites]


I like the name Uriah. And Wyatt. and Liam. All of those could be completely believably, though a bit distinctive, first names. Now to just come up with a last name that sounds good.

Uriah Kidd
Wyatt Clarke
Liam Neeson

[I was just giving you a hard time with that last one.]

Liam Keane


Yup, those are all the suggestions I could think of. You could always try Bourbon McKeebler, though.
posted by shesaysgo at 11:31 AM on November 25, 2010


An attack of Internet remorse! You guys know I'm kidding, right? Thanks, unironically, for the help.

Anyway I think I've come up with an acceptable name. I won't enter it here because as someone pointed out, they could just Google it and find this thread and then what would they think?
posted by eeby at 11:31 AM on November 25, 2010


Paul Wood House
posted by parmanparman at 11:43 AM on November 25, 2010


You'll aways be be Bourbon to me, Mr. McKeebler.
posted by bonehead at 12:14 PM on November 25, 2010 [10 favorites]


Any name for which the first name is Hal is very cool!
posted by Knowyournuts at 12:36 PM on November 25, 2010


Betty Bea Getty McClanahan
posted by ethnomethodologist at 1:52 PM on November 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


I have three pseudonyms for different kinds of writin's, and it's a bit of work to maintain them (just remembering to renew the domain names is annoying) but it can be helpful.

Glad you found something that worked for you, eeby. I am still wistful that it won't be Bourbon McKeebler.

Can I use "Bourbon McKeebler, Jr." as my pseudonym, Juliet Banana? It's a thin line between hommage and plagiarism, so.
posted by Sidhedevil at 2:37 PM on November 25, 2010 [2 favorites]


Reginald Finknottle (combine two characters from PG Wodehouse. The smartest and the most lovelorn)
posted by phoebus at 2:38 PM on November 25, 2010


"Combine your father's given name with the the first school you ever attended."
-- bonobothegreat


That'd be Michael Crosby for me. Maybe a bit plain but not bad..
posted by raider at 7:44 PM on November 25, 2010


Makes me think of this hilarious Achewood cartoon. Maybe it'll help.
posted by zardoz at 9:54 PM on November 25, 2010


Rembrant Q Einstein
Handsome B Wonderful
Hercules Rockefeller

Or how about
Max Power?
posted by humpy at 2:42 AM on November 26, 2010


Shigeru Feinstein
Dr. Clayton Victorious
Melchizedek Wallace
Alexander MacKenzie
Farley Youngston
Grzegorz Ekiert
posted by awenner at 10:37 AM on November 26, 2010


Fredrick Grimmer
posted by santaslittlehelper at 10:36 AM on November 27, 2010


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