Advice to a Young Writer: Part I

Titles, Pseudonyms and Character names.

Advice to a Young Writer: Part I
Darwinian Monkey hammering on a typewriter: After 100 to 500 million years, I will randomly stumble upon a work of genius, or at least a decent 47 word tweet?


As Christopher Hitchens mentioned in his book “Hitch-22: A Memoir”, Isaiah Berlin is a great start.

  1. Pick a name from the Old Testament.
  2. Match it with an European city.

Bathsheba Budapest
Nebuchadnezzar Amsterdam
Immanuel Konnesburg

I cannot recommend doing this with Latin American countries, especially if you reverse the two. I.E:

Panama Jesus
Bolivia Abraham
Costa Rica Gomer

You just end up sounding like some tin pot, Latin American, banana republic dictator or some seedy, third world fixer.

Or perhaps ex-presidential daughters with Old Testament cities?

Chelsea Gomorrah (Sounds too much like a porn star? By the way, see, “porn names” below).

“The writer Lucia Berlin drew from her own colorful and dramatic life to craft her short stories”.
(Sorry women. Being a misogynist writer, I realize that I have forgotten female Italian names and German cities).

Pseudonyms II

Eventually you will make the most important decision of your literary career: Will you choose one, two or three names?
One name: (Madonna is the rule, below are mere derivations).

  1. Dante
  2. Buddha
  3. Christ
  4. Socrates

(Oh wait, the last three never wrote anything).

Two names:

Vladimir Nabokov (enough said)

Three names:

David Foster Wallace {Insert code placeholder here for 20–30 more names} This seems to be a very popular choice.

Joyce Carol Oates, etc.

Four names: Do you dare?

Bradford Marvinicus Lehlionus Caesar Augustus
Sorry. That is my Roman Emperor name (Just in case I go back in time and through some wacky turn of events - and that is five names. So Sorry!

Of course, only a insane, 19th century french philosopher could blow this whole discussion out of the water.

Isidore Marie Auguste François Xavier Comte: No wonder he was hospitalized in an asylum, then later tried to commit suicide. The burden of six names! And honestly, I’m not a great fan of Positivism.

Character Names (to be cross-referenced with Pseudonyms?)

Soon AI will completely take over this task, but until then, here is a list with their proper characteristics and specific genre usages.

Pixie Le Knot: (Oops Sorry, already taken by the French Contortionist featured in Season Three, Episode three of Game of Thrones. Excusez-moi, mon Pixie!)

Barnabas Kludge: A shifty 19th Century English Solicitor exploiting young orphans.

Scottie Pippen: A 19th century English basketball playing orphan exploited by Barnabas Kludge.

Octavius Bonemantle: A 19th century, pre-video pornstar.

Mr. Smudge: A bitter, cantankerous, 19th century manager of a group of poor young copyist (before branching out to be an agent for 19th century, pre-video pornstars.)

Huckleberry Bumblefuck: A poor, accidental, moonshine making, backwoods victim of a group of sophisticated European assassins visiting late 19th century West Virginia in order to kill an anarchist Serbian.

Brunhilde Pomsel Berliner Rundfunk: She started her career as a typist for Joseph Goebbels, then branched out as an early promoter and visionary cinematic director and choreographer, ala Leni Riefenstahl, for the German band Rammstein.

Dr. Gohar Grigorian Sartorius: A diabolic late 19th century physician practicing in New York’s Five Points district.

Cranky Caliente Chicas: A smoking hot group of young, petite, irritated latino girls starring in late night, softporn Univision programs.

Scruggy Mufflepuff: A jaded, seedy old puppet, the first and only puppet who was ever kicked off the Muppet Show.

Flint Chumpwinkle: A sparkling TV game show host (A Chimpanzee perhaps)? A replacement for the Human, Snark Smirkweiler.

Staxyn Jackson!: An early 1970s African-American action star whose secret power is generic viagra.

Brock Riptide: A middle aged male crisis - ala John Updike, ala Harry Angstrom — a.k.a. Rabbit. He changes his name, takes testosterone supplements, hits the gym, gets blond hair implants, and starts surfing. It could all end very tragically: or he could buy a mask of President Chester A. Arthur

and join Patrick Swayze and the Ex-Presidents, robbing bank after bank; then it could end tragically, but in a really cool way.

Point Break (1991) - IMDb
Point Break: Directed by Kathryn Bigelow. With Patrick Swayze, Keanu Reeves, Gary Busey, Lori Petty. An F.B.I. Agent goes undercover to catch a gang of surfers who may be bank robbers.

Pristiq: An aging, transvestite magician working a seedy circuit of casinos in Las Vegas. (I’m sorry Pfizer! Please don’t sue me for copyright infringement!)

Penelope Pfizer: A little known beautiful blond Nazi head of a German Pharma company that provided Hitler, the Wehrmacht, and u-boat crews with chocolate covered amphetamines.

Pilar Montenegro: A beautiful, dark-eyed, temperamental daughter of a South American general executed in a failed coup d’état. The inspiration for my first South American Magical Realist novel (or was it a Russian, Depressive Realist novel? Hmmmm, perhaps a Japanese Mundane Exceptionalism novel)?

Sporadicus: Not nearly as well known as his friend and competitor, Spartacus. A Roman slave who fought in the coliseum, then tried to lead a scattered, erratic, start and stop rebellion against the Romans.

Crustacean: (Imperator Lucretius William Von Crustacaus Caesar Augustus) A completely unknown emperor of Rome, after Nero, but before the Year of the Four Emperors that eventually led to the reign of Vespasian. Often seen walking his pet lobster in the Forum, trailed by his retinue of beautiful, young, hermaphroditic crawfish. One so brutal, psychopathic and sadistic that his name has been completely expunged from history — Damnatio memoriae. One who makes Caligula look like a choir boy. (A really nice, innocent choirboy. Not a kitten killing sociopathic choirboy).

Contravius Blovart: A Fox or CNN news anchor who’s career ends in scandel, then a potential presidential bid.

Dusty Cadaver: A sexy new love interest forensic anthropologist on the CSI Lincoln edition TV drama

Speaking of Porn

Tiffany Thorax
Saffran Drizzle
Brock Bulkhead

Another Great porn name: “Pearl Harbor”. She performs a disturbing, raunchy, porn/conceptual artistic atonement/reenactment of the Japanese sneak attack, with surprising historical accuracy (It's really Big in Japan).

Manifest Destiny: A beautiful young stripper catering to white supremists.

Patience Procrastination: A languid beautiful victorian woman dressed in corsets and lace who lets you slack on every writing project you have ever conceived, and gives great blowjobs.

Titles (Fiction)

Titles are quite vexing. If something does not come to me while I am writing the story, I hope the story itself will provide some clue. Here are some popular examples I believe exemplify the art of book titles.

“Snow Falling Softly on Thrill-hammers”
Or perhaps: “Captain Corelli’s Thrill-Hammer”

F. Scott Fitzgerald’s “Tender is the Thrill-Hammer”

“20,000 Thrill-Hammers under the Sea”

V.S. Naipaul’s 1979 Masterpiece “A Bend in the Thrill-Hammer”

(I could probably go on and on for another page or two, but it would amuse only me … Oh well).

“The Old Man and the Thrill-Hammer.”

“Moby Thrill-Hammer.” (A great band name?)

Who could forget Evelyn Waugh’s: “A Handful of Thrill-Hammer”

William Faulkner’s “Thrill-Hammer, Thrill-Hammer!”

“The Heart is a Lonely Thrill-Hammer”

“Zen and the Art of Thill-Hammer Maintenance”

“A Farewell to Thrill-Hammers”

“Seize the Thrill-Hammer”

And the 20th century masterpiece of Magic Realism: “One Hundred Years of Trill-Hammers”

“The Adventures of Huckleberry Thrill-Hammer”. (A good pseudonym and character name as well)

By the way, German movie titles provide a wealth of title material, especially those of the director Rainer Werner Fassbinder: The Bitter Tears of Petra von Kant (1972).
Not to be confused with the Salty Tears of Immanuel Kant, or the Nihilistic Secretions of Nietzsche.

When Nietzsche Wept (2007) - IMDb
When Nietzsche Wept: Directed by Pinchas Perry. With Ben Cross, Armand Assante, Joanna Pacula, Michal Yannai. Viennese doctor Josef Breuer meets with philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche to help him deal with his despair.

Titles (Non-Fiction)

In general, try to create a one word, one syllable, punchy title, ie: Gulp, Boink, Shit, Crap, Punch, Sling, Spit, etc (honestly, ETC! might be a good place to start).

Look to commercial ventures as well: Nest, Meat, Home, Grub, Spanx.

Or, conversely, try to combine two seemingly incongruous things, an incongruity that you will brilliantly link together in the text of your book: Einstein’s Brain and Cleopatra’s Bra. Or perhaps Einstein’s Bra and Cleopatra’s Brain?