So let's say you were doing some writing under an alias. Maybe business writing, maybe something that pays less that the rate you would normally accept, or maybe something you want to keep anonymous for personal reasons. How would you pick out a pen name?
I know female authors sometimes use their initials on books targeted to males to make them sound less, I don't know, girly? That's not really a pen name, though. And some people keep their maiden names on their books even when they change to their husband's name in real life, usually because the name they started writing with has some momentum or recognition.
If you decide to pick a totally different name, make sure you Google it first. I also Google my characters' names. You don't want to pick the name of an infamous porn star by accident or find out you reinvented the name of the main character of a soap opera.
My recycled character names work for me. They're easy to remember. It's almost like picking the name of one of your imaginary friends.
When I was in high school, my girlfriends and I had code names. When we met boys we were unsure about and didn't want to give them our real names, we became Bridget, Kris, and Marissa. I was Bridget. I still think of that as my secret alias. It would've been my son's name if he were a girl, so now it just floats there in midair, something that might have been used but wasn't.
Speaking of recycled names, did you ever notice that after a while, you and your critique partners tend to use each other's minor character names? It's like we're building up a stock of characters. For some reason, I have this thing about the name Greg. Whenever I need a minor goon or snotty boy, he becomes Greg. I like the name and I like the Gregs I know, so I have no idea why Greg is my fallback position for henchmen. Poor Greg.
Are you willing to divulge your secret names? What about your shorthand ones?
-- Kate, Miss Perfecting the Pages