Fictionalizing real-life experience, marketable character names

UPDATE: The novel, Pleasing María, is blogged on this website. To view the Table of Contents, click here. To go directly to the first chapter, click here. To read the latest novel post, click here.

Writing publicly about our real life and personal sexual experience would cause shock and embarrassment among our friends and family. In our case, with religious and conservative parents, I simply could not be free to write honestly without disguising my identity as author, and the identities of all the characters in the novel.

A nom-de-plume for me as the author, narrator, and protagonist in the novel, Pleasing María, was not straight forward, because the nom-de-plume must extend outside the novel to all the public marketing media. For example,

  • the registrant of the websites associated with the novel,
  • the user names on the twitter, facebook, and other social media accounts,
  • the email addresses for the contact pages and email lists.

For the protagonists and secondary characters in the novel, not only must their identities (names) be changed, but also any specific information that could used to correlate their novel names to their real identities. These include:

  • their location: town or city, even state and country,
  • their profession, company or business,
  • their involvement in historic events, etc.

Fictionalizing the above information for the novel essentially converts a real-life story to fiction, and I had to rewrite perhaps 40% of the novel to protect the privacy of all the characters in the story. The rewrite included the towns and countries, and some major events within those locations.

Fictionalizing a real-life story certainly makes many aspects of marketing the novel easier. However, the marketing aspects may complicate your writing because you’ll want your blog and twitter names to reflect your novel name or main characters’ names. Since almost every conceivable domain and twitter name is already taken, finding names for your novel’s characters may be difficult, especially if the characters’ names are significant in themselves. One solution to this is to invent improbable names that no one has used before (John Locke uses “Donovan Creed” as his protagonist’s name, ergo,, @DonovanCreed,, etc.)

In the case of my novel, Pleasing María, an important aspect of my real-life character was that I was nobody special, just a regular joe. So a character name like Joe Average or Joe Regular would have been perfect, but the corresponding domain names (,, etc.) were already taken. I searched 30-40 name combinations before finding, so that an ordinary guy, Guy Ordinary, became the fictionalized me.

The principal female character’s name, María, to replace my real-life companion’s name was equally important, especially because the name “María” has special significance in Latin American culture and in American mythology about Latin women.

Finally, names for novels with matching domain names are much easier to find as there’s a vast pool of unused domain names of two or more words. was available. If you’d like to receive announcements of future blog posts, join the mailing list on the right side. To contact me directly, click on the CONTACT PLEASING MARIA link at the top of this page. Stay tuned.

All the contents of this web site are Copyright © 2015 by Guy Ordinary, all rights reserved. The contents have been registered as a published work with the U.S. Copyright Office.

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