Of Pen Names

I’ve recently found this site that I was quite attracted to at first. It had the interesting setup of successfully pushing critiques out of members through a system of Karma points with which you spent to post your work. But there was one thing that quite irked me in the entire signup process – you were required to create a realistic pen name, whether it be your real name or just a pen name you’ve used for a while. And here comes the question, what is realistic? Obviously shaggydog202 is not realistic, but what if someone was just trying to be artsy with their name? And why? What’s wrong with an original username?

So because of this, I had decided to push the limits a little with a small test. I decided set my name as Lilianna Silverfrost. Now, personally, I think there’s nothing wrong with that name. While the likelihood of me ever meeting anyone with the last name of Silverfrost probably is close to zero, I don’t see anything wrong with that last name as a pen name. It’s suppose to be a pseudonym. You’re never going to meet a Dr. Suess in real life are you?

Of course, my account was closed and I was asked very politely to reread the rules of creating a name and recreate my account with a more proper name. Now I had planned to abandon my account quite quickly anyways, so nothing was really lost. But what if someone had posted some 10k word critique before their account was closed. Does it just go away? Do they just lose all that effort they spent into a nice critical review on someone else’s work because they were just trying to be creative with their pen name? Now, I haven’t tried this and I’m sure they must have a way to keep a critique, but to be rejected because of a name? It sure gives me a bad first impression.

Now please don’t think that I’m dissing this site – I’m not. In fact, I think it’s absolutely genius. The way that the Karma system works effectively pushes for full, well written critiques and better yet, the work posted there tend to be more legitimate. After all, after spending all that time typing up crits to gain your hard earned Karma, who would waste it on (excuse my language) a piece of shit?

But I can also guarantee that the requirement for a realistic pen name also turns many people away. One of the few issues with realistic is that, unless you can come up with a name special to you, it’s hard to remember. Not only you, but people who read your works. They’ll more than likely remember you better as shaggydog202 rather than Tim Smith or Katie Freed.

I mean, even Lilianna Silverfrost is better Sarah Thompson.