Pseudonyms / Pen Names



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  • Pseudonyms / Pen Names

    I recently completed an autobiography called CARPENTERGIRL about the triumphs and defeats I encountered working my way to the top in the building industry. It is based on a true story that eventually lead to a litigation. Even though everything in the book is a matter of public court record, I was advised to change the names of the characters and use a pen name. I've just been notified that three different publishers are considering my book for publication. Two of them are not well known publishers, one of them is.

    After I finished the book, I decided to eventually write a screenplay for CarpenterGirl. Before writing that screenplay, however, I decided to do a test run so to speak and write a romantic/comedy. I have finished it and would like to submit it to some agencies.

    I have decided to pursue a career in writing, preferably screenplays. Since I am using a pen name for my book, I would like to continue using that same pen name for all of my future writing accomplishments including screenplays.

    Do screenwriters ever use pen names? When I submit my screenplay can I put my pen name on it instead of my real name. Any advice or suggestions will be most appreciated.

    [email protected]

  • #2
    Maybe I'm wrong, and some of the pros will argue against me but....why write a romantic comedy when you already have had some success with the CarpenterGirl book?

    What if Erin Brokovich had written her own story? She'd be a successful screenwriter now, instead of a paralegal--which pays better?

    I say write the CarpenterGirl script FIRST, then write the romantic comedy (let me sound like a studio exec for a moment: "I love this CarpenterGirl story...throw a romance and some comedy in there, and you've got a winner").

    Unless I'm mistaken, the original writers of BACKDRAFT were firemen or fire investigators. There's a couple of guys here in Austin who caught Spielberg's eye with a script about working in the governor's office. They used in the governor's office. They never made that script, but they did get work on other shows because of it.

    So I say...write what you know, and if you've already had some notoriety from your story...then write it for the big screen.

    And who cares what name you slap on it? Spike Jonze will probably end up directing, and he sure ain't gonna criticize your nomenclature.

    Your pal,
    (not my given name)


    • #3
      Have your pen name recommend your real name for the screenplay when the screen rights for the book get sold. Then you can get story and writer credits and get paid twice. Also, if the movie bombs, your book name can blame your screenwriting name.

      Seriously, what couchguy said.

      BTW, I'll read your script and comment (no charge) if you want an outside opinion. I did this for Hang em High. You can ask him if it was any help.

      [email protected]


      • #4
        I agree w/Couch, but that's a little early until we know exactly how "personal" some of the scenes are regarding real people (that led to the experiences).

        Even Eminem's Mom is suing him, so I think that KAshbury's concern is valid, depending on how "down and dirty" the story gets.

        PS to 'Don: you ever get the last e-mail/check out the subsequent "art-bits" at "the site"? (keep those specifics hush-hush for now)

        I ask because it's on-topic. If you (or someone you knew) was treated the way I treated the chartacters shown, would you see it as funny/bitchy satire, or would you (if you came from that subculture) feel offended?

        Best, kosak


        • #5
          A lot of screenwriters have used pen names for many different reasons. Primarily, because of the blacklist many excellent writers HAD to use pen names otherwise they wouldn't get work.

          Talk with an attorney to see if there are any legalities you need to consider, otherwise use whatever name you want.

          I know of some agents and execs who have written material and use a pen name because no one in town would read it with their name on it.

          If you're comfortable with the name, use it however you want.



          • #6
            pen names

            Under WGA rules, you can use a pen name for any work which sells for less than $200,000. If it's more than that, it's up to the production company. If your real name isn't established, you probably won't have a problem.



            • #7
              Pseudonyms / Pen names

              Thanks for all your advice. I'll keep you guys posted.



              • #8
                In response to Ptranodon's claim - yes, he does a bang out job. He goes beyond the call of duty, when it comes to
                evaluating the work.

                In my opinion, he was conscise, and truthful to what he feels will help as well as knowledgeable in this particular field.

                Ptrano understands concepts, so he offers an insight that will help the script, if any's needed.

                Highest evaluation - hang em'