Kindle Forum banner

61 - 80 of 149 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,639 Posts
Usedtoposthere said:
She's talking about personas, not pen names per se. Big, big difference.
I know exactly what she's talking about, and saying that you have a cat or that you live on a tiny island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean in your bio is no more deceptive or harmful than creating a pen name of a different sex. It's branding. It doesn't cause any harm to the reader. Claiming to be a male in order to sell military sci-fi books doesn't harm the reader. Claiming to be a doctor or nutritionist in order to sell diet books could harm the reader, so there's a difference. But readers' personal feelings of bias, prejudice, or distaste are not our problem. Those are their issues to deal with, not ours. If those issues didn't exist, the vast majority of us wouldn't need to create pen names and personas to write under in the first place.

Of course pens and personas can be used in unethical ways. But as with anything else, it's the person behind them that's behaving unethically. It doesn't mean that there's anything inherently wrong with either.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
6,334 Posts
KelliWolfe said:
I know exactly what she's talking about, and saying that you have a cat or that you live on a tiny island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean in your bio is no more deceptive or harmful than creating a pen name of a different sex. It's branding. It doesn't cause any harm to the reader. Claiming to be a male in order to sell military sci-fi books doesn't harm the reader. Claiming to be a doctor or nutritionist in order to sell diet books could harm the reader, so there's a difference. But readers' personal feelings of bias, prejudice, or distaste are not our problem. Those are their issues to deal with, not ours. If those issues didn't exist, the vast majority of us wouldn't need to create pen names and personas to write under in the first place.

Of course pens and personas can be used in unethical ways. But as with anything else, it's the person behind them that's behaving unethically. It doesn't mean that there's anything inherently wrong with either.
I guess we'll have to agree to disagree. I think lying and betrayal causes emotional harm, causes a person to trust less, to view the world more cynically. That's damaging. Sure, there's a scale. Pen names do not fall on that scale, even if they're pen names of the opposite sex (personally I would go gender-neutral, though, or initials, because I don't like lying even in that sense). Once you start interacting as that person, though--specifically leading a reader to believe you are male/female, you're lying.

I also think lying hurts the liar's soul, for that matter, but the people who are lied to matter more.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
285 Posts
Here's the way I look at it:

My readers are my customers. The defining element of our relationship is that I create products, fictional books, that they purchase (and hopefully enjoy).

If I deceive them about my product, then I'm not behaving ethically. For fiction books, the potential for concern in this area is significantly lower than it is for many other products - particularly since readers can preview a decent portion of a book in advance, to ensure that it meets their expectations for quality and the like. There are some ways one might deceive readers about the book itself, of course: presenting a short story as if is a full-length novel (by manipulating the displayed page count), etc. These are things I wouldn't do, and don't think other people should do either.

As for the identity, background, personal history and so forth of the individual who wrote the book - these are not things that should matter. In an ideal world, a work of fiction would be judged on its own merits; readers would not reject a book because of the author's gender, race, sexual orientation, whatever. It isn't fair to judge a work of fiction based on such facts about the author - though that does not necessarily make it unreasonable, at least in our less-than-ideal world.

In any case, because a person cannot truly know anything about a work of fiction just by virtue of knowing various categories/groups in which the author fits, the author's persona is essentially irrelevant to the product itself. So I don't have any particular qualms about presenting readers with a fictionalized persona, especially when the persona is a good match with what readers are likely to expect - based on their prior experiences and/or personal biases - of an author who writes the kind of book that is in question.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
188 Posts
Evenstar said:
But in fiction... well, we make stuff up for a living!
Exactly.

When someone writes a work of fiction, they have NO obligation to get their facts right. They can describe CPR anyway they want to, mangle police procedure, or invent new traits for vampires. The readers will decide whether or not they want more realism in their fiction and purchase accordingly. Because the entire work of fiction is a lie, I see no problem if the name is a lie too.

In nonfiction, however, you are publishing under the assumption that you are a purveyor of "truth." A pen name to hide your identity is fine if you deal with delicate subject matter or whatever, but you darn better well have some experience in what you are writing about.

If you are a fiction or nonfiction author who befriends your readers and interacts with them on a personal level, then I think you have an obligation to be who you say you are, or else risk the consequences of being deceptive. I certainly wouldn't want my friends lying to me about who they are.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
136 Posts
If you believe lying is bad then it's a pretty simple equation.

Pen name = lie.

Everything else is just fluff. For me the fact is that I work damn hard at writing and I won't write something I'm ashamed of. I also won't lie to my customers, more than that I'm not going to lie to people. You know that's what customers are, right? People, brothers, lovers, sisters, mothers, etc, if you wouldn't lie to someone on the street than you probably shouldn't lie to someone about your art.

I don't get how that's difficult. No one likes being lied to, everyone feels that sense of betrayal when they're faced with the truth. And yet we think because it's business that it excuses the betrayal. Sorry, but life isn't that way. You still lied to them to make a buck. You betrayed the common bond that existed between you. You might have had good reasons but you still lied to get over them. Lying is always the easy answer, but it's rarely the right one.

Creating a persona is just an extension of that lie. Do you enjoy it when people make up stories about who they are? Are you a fan of online dating or forum's in general where it seems truth is the one thing no one is selling? Or do you hold yourself to a higher standard, one that believes what's right is worth doing?

For me I vote with my wallet. I don't buy books with obvious pen-name's. I don't feel that starting a relationship with a person who lies to me as hello is a good thing.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
98 Posts
Well, you are entitled to your opinion. I'm sorry it's so harsh since there are valid reasons to write under a pen name. (Note: I didn't say make up a fake persona to go along with that pen name.)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,624 Posts
OnlyTheGrotesqueKnow said:
If you believe lying is bad then it's a pretty simple equation.

Pen name = lie.

Everything else is just fluff. For me the fact is that I work damn hard at writing and I won't write something I'm ashamed of. I also won't lie to my customers, more than that I'm not going to lie to people. You know that's what customers are, right? People, brothers, lovers, sisters, mothers, etc, if you wouldn't lie to someone on the street than you probably shouldn't lie to someone about your art.

I don't get how that's difficult. No one likes being lied to, everyone feels that sense of betrayal when they're faced with the truth. And yet we think because it's business that it excuses the betrayal. Sorry, but life isn't that way. You still lied to them to make a buck. You betrayed the common bond that existed between you. You might have had good reasons but you still lied to get over them. Lying is always the easy answer, but it's rarely the right one.

Creating a persona is just an extension of that lie. Do you enjoy it when people make up stories about who they are? Are you a fan of online dating or forum's in general where it seems truth is the one thing no one is selling? Or do you hold yourself to a higher standard, one that believes what's right is worth doing?

For me I vote with my wallet. I don't buy books with obvious pen-name's. I don't feel that starting a relationship with a person who lies to me as hello is a good thing.
A pen name is NOT a lie. It is a writer's tool. One of many.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
325 Posts
KelliWolfe said:
Claiming to be a male in order to sell military sci-fi books doesn't harm the reader.
A male pseudonym is fine, and to some extent it constitutes "claiming to be male." On the other hand, creating the persona/bio of a combat veteran in order to sell military sci-fi books is disgusting (IMO). It's stolen valor. Likewise if you create the persona of a member of a marginalized group in order to sell books that would be informed by that experience to readers who live that experience (LGBTQ, POC, etc.).
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
484 Posts
sandysocks said:
I'm actually pretty surprised at the amount of people I've seen say it's unethical to have a persona for a pen name.
MyraScott said:
Who are these people? Are they the ones with the straw man factory? They are never around to speak up for themselves.
I have to wonder if MyraScott didn't see "persona" in sandysocks' post. Plenty of people have issues with fake personas.

However, I do know that many straw men get put through a game of telephone and turn into "Kboards hates x" repeated as fact.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,624 Posts
. said:
KelliWolfe your last post to me sounds like a pen name not a made up persona.

I listened to a podcast not that long ago where a military science fiction writer had corresponded with one of his readers and named a character after him. He later found out that the reader had passed away and had been bed ridden for several years and had actually mentioned the writer in his eulogy.

Two hard core ex-military men who had a genuine connection and where real human connection, along with the books, really did matter and make a difference to both of their lives.

I really wish people did not screw with readers. At least stop pretending and claiming that it doesn't matter. If it didn't matter then people wouldn't make up personas in the first place. Making up a fake persona to make people think you are more like them or someone who they will emotionally relate to, elicit sympathy from, etc. is not the same thing as a pen name.
No, false claims re background and pen names are not the same. Currently there is one writer (no names mentioned) who claims to be trial lawyer and writes books with a trial lawyer as his protagonist. It becomes very quickly apparent that he is not a lawyer and has no real clue about law or courtroom procedure. This irritates me. (I'm not a lawyer either, but my early Journalism career involved several years with Police and Courts.) If a false bio didn't intrude into the writer's work - I would have no idea and no objection.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
136 Posts
DarkScribe said:
A pen name is NOT a lie. It is a writer's tool. One of many.
Ummm... yes it is. By definition. It might also be a tool but it is still a lie. Don't mean to be confrontational but if you say your name is something it's not, then you are lying. If you engage in a deception that mischaracterizes a subject, then you are lying. The one way you might get around this is to announce that you are in fact not using your real name and that this is a pen name. In which case, I as a reader can chose another book.

We can talk about good lies vs bad lies and whether we believe lying is justified. These are all worthy subjects but the basis of that conversation is what lying is and is not. Until we agree on that we don't really have anything to talk about.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,610 Posts
OnlyTheGrotesqueKnow said:
Ummm... yes it is. By definition. It might also be a tool but it is still a lie. Don't mean to be confrontational but if you say your name is something it's not, then you are lying.
It's interesting logic. Do you also not listen to music by anyone who uses a stage name? I suspect Mr and Mrs Gaga didn't name their little girl Lady.

Although I did hear Sir Mix-a-lot inherited his knighthood...
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
136 Posts
MyraScott said:
It's interesting logic. Do you also not listen to music by anyone who uses a stage name? I suspect Mr and Mrs Gaga didn't name their little girl Lady.

Although I did hear Sir Mix-a-lot inherited his knighthood...
That's actually an interesting point. Granted it's put forward as a way to detract from the actual topic and doesn't even remotely address my logic but still a fun tangent. I would put forward that the art forms are different. Singing is far more a performance art than writing. We expect singers to be larger than life and to dazzle us, after all they are the modern gods we live and die by.

Although the definition still holds, they are lying about their names. However this is deception without teeth as no one thinks those names are real. A far cry from authors trying to gain acceptance into groups they wouldn't' have access or those looking to hide from their own works.

If you were wanting to extend my logical argument it would need to apply to both lying and books. It's the meeting of these two subjects that is the point of my argument.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
236 Posts
DarkScribe said:
No, false claims re background and pen names are not the same. Currently there is one writer (no names mentioned) who claims to be trial lawyer and writes books with a trial lawyer as his protagonist. It becomes very quickly apparent that he is not a lawyer and has no real clue about law or courtroom procedure. This irritates me. (I'm not a lawyer either, but my early Journalism career involved several years with Police and Courts.) If a false bio didn't intrude into the writer's work - I would have no idea and no objection.
Yeah, not too bright to try to claim you are a lawyer if you aren't one. The "secret" will probably not last long.

Personally, I don't have a problem with someone using a pen name. Some people do it to separate their work/professional life, for other privacy matters, or they could just have a name that is extremely hard to spell or want a name that matches their genre. So the name itself doesn't bug me at all.

Funny talking about stage names. I was thinking about that earlier today. One of my grandfather's cousins was Patti Page. She was a fairly well known singer in the 1950s. That was her stage name and not her real legal name. My grandparents always referred to her as Patti even though they grew up with her long before she had her stage name. When she came to my grandfather's funeral everyone, including my grandmother, called her Patti. So she had become Patti in real life too.

My legal name is Julie but the only one that calls me that is my mother. I much prefer Jules and that is what I always go by.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
188 Posts
OnlyTheGrotesqueKnow said:
If you believe lying is bad then it's a pretty simple equation.

Pen name = lie.

Everything else is just fluff. For me the fact is that I work damn hard at writing and I won't write something I'm ashamed of. I also won't lie to my customers, more than that I'm not going to lie to people.
But if you are writing fiction, you are lying to your customers. Fiction is made up. It's a falsehood, told deliberately. Nobody (unless delusional) buys fiction thinking it's true. Nobody (unless delusional) goes to the movies thinking they are real. For fiction, it's inherent in the contract between writer and reader.

Lying is not universally bad. It all depends on the situation. Sometimes a lie is the most moral course of action.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,639 Posts
OnlyTheGrotesqueKnow said:
That's actually an interesting point. Granted it's put forward as a way to detract from the actual topic and doesn't even remotely address my logic but still a fun tangent. I would put forward that the art forms are different. Singing is far more a performance art than writing. We expect singers to be larger than life and to dazzle us, after all they are the modern gods we live and die by.

Although the definition still holds, they are lying about their names. However this is deception without teeth as no one thinks those names are real. A far cry from authors trying to gain acceptance into groups they wouldn't' have access or those looking to hide from their own works.

If you were wanting to extend my logical argument it would need to apply to both lying and books. It's the meeting of these two subjects that is the point of my argument.
You mean like all the rappers and hip hop artists who invent false personas to give themselves street cred so they sell more albums to people who think they gangsta? Or Bob Dylan changing his name from Robert Zimmerman and creating the whole train-hopping balladeer background from thin air? And any number of musical artists have changed their names mid-career to distance themselves from the work they did in their past, much like creating a new pen name for a new genre.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
136 Posts
Russ Munson said:
But if you are writing fiction, you are lying to your customers. Fiction is made up. It's a falsehood, told deliberately. Nobody (unless delusional) buys fiction thinking it's true. Nobody (unless delusional) goes to the movies thinking they are real. For fiction, it's inherent in the contract between writer and reader.

Lying is not universally bad. It all depends on the situation. Sometimes a lie is the most moral course of action.
If I buy a book on fiction, I know it's lies told to entertain. There is no deception, a qualification for being a lie. While a false name is meant to deceive as a pen name. Like with Sir Mix-A-Lot, the name was never meant to deceive, but many pen name's are designed with that in mind.

Lying is always a moral wrong. This has been held up by every major religion in the world and every society that exists today, excepting very narrowly defined areas, none of which apply to authors. How morality effects life choices would be 'applied ethics', or how moral judgements are made in real life. Such as lying to save a life, or prevent a crime from happening. In these situations you have two moral wrongs and must decide between them to find the least wrong. These would make up the bulk of the Socratic Dialogues.

None of that applies here. We are talking about lying to make money. Nothing more, and certainly nothing less.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,639 Posts
OnlyTheGrotesqueKnow said:
If I buy a book on fiction, I know it's lies told to entertain. There is no deception, a qualification for being a lie. While a false name is meant to deceive as a pen name. Like with Sir Mix-A-Lot, the name was never meant to deceive, but many pen name's are designed with that in mind.

Lying is always a moral wrong. This has been held up by every major religion in the world and every society that exists today, excepting very narrowly defined areas, none of which apply to authors. How morality effects life choices would be 'applied ethics', or how moral judgements are made in real life. Such as lying to save a life, or prevent a crime from happening. In these situations you have two moral wrongs and must decide between them to find the least wrong. These would make up the bulk of the Socratic Dialogues.

None of that applies here. We are talking about lying to make money. Nothing more, and certainly nothing less.
Except that in practice, pen names have been a completely accepted practice by societies for centuries. They're legally accepted by governments. So no, it isn't a moral wrong because the society decides what is moral or not, and pretty much every society for hundreds of years has said that pen names are perfectly okey dokey. Your personal preference may be different, but pretty much the entire world disagrees with you.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
136 Posts
KelliWolfe said:
You mean like all the rappers and hip hop artists who invent false personas to give themselves street cred so they sell more albums to people who think they gangsta? Or Bob Dylan changing his name from Robert Zimmerman and creating the whole train-hopping balladeer background from thin air? And any number of musical artists have changed their names mid-career to distance themselves from the work they did in their past, much like creating a new pen name for a new genre.
I'm actually a hug hip hop fan. So yes exactly like them. Look at the intent to deceive. Sir Mix-A-Lot wasn't' trying to deceive but many rappers do intend to do just that.

Now let me ask you a question. Is lying the morally right thing to do? Because from my point of view that's what you are arguing from. Would you like me to quote the many times pen names have been found out and the readers reactions to them? Or perhaps you'd enjoy if I started naming those rappers that were outed as privileged compared to their colleagues? You know this. You can see the difference between someone lying to entertain and someone lying to hide who they are or make up something about themselves. It's self evident.

If your lying to deceive someone, then you are lying. And that means that everyone that comes in contact with that lie will know you as a liar.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
136 Posts
KelliWolfe said:
Except that in practice, pen names have been a completely accepted practice by societies for centuries. They're legally accepted by governments. So no, it isn't a moral wrong because the society decides what is moral or not, and pretty much every society for hundreds of years has said that pen names are perfectly okey dokey. Your personal preference may be different, but pretty much the entire world disagrees with you.
Sorry, but no. Would you like me to look up the instances of morality and laws not conforming? You name the era and I would be happy to list the atrocities. Arguing that the law is the gold standard for morality would condone everything from genocide to genital mutilation.

It's not my personal morality that calls lying wrong ... its thousands of years of humanity. It's threaded through our society from when we give testimony about our crimes all the way to our interactions with our loved ones.

Is a pen name a lie? I say yes.
 
61 - 80 of 149 Posts
Top