Dr. Tulkinghorn: Character Names MUST!!! be Taken from the Bible

(Readers, welcome back our guest blogger, Dr. Tulkinghorn, as he prefers to be called. He is here again with his stupendous and career-changing advice for each of us. -Caleb)

Dear Struggling Writers,

I’m here to favor you with more tips to change your feeble literary attempts into monuments of expression. Today I offer you guidance on how to name your characters.

Here are my key tips:

If you are writing science fiction, the names of your characters must contain an X, or Z, or Y. Q is sometimes acceptable.

The names should require guessing when it comes to pronunciation. You should zealously correct anyone -- a member of your writers critique group, for example -- who guesses the pronunciation incorrectly. Be firm! The only thing that matters is that people use the pronunciation you made up! 

If you are NOT writing sci-fi (which makes you a wannabe. Real writers predict the future without emphasis on emotion, as everyone knows. Plus you need somewhere to display your useless knowledge of math and astronomy.) Anyway, as I was saying, if you are not writing sci-fi, you must, MUST use character names that come only from the BIBLE, OR THE NAMES OF OLD ENGLISH KINGS. This is critical. Any other kind of name makes your readers suspicious of your motives. As they should be. 

This advice applies equally when naming children. Actual flesh and blood children, I mean. Acceptable names are as follows: John, Peter, Paul, Simon, Henry, Richard, Thomas, Matthew, Luke, and Mark. THESE ARE THE STANDARDS. Stick close to this list. The names have been used ad nauseum in hundreds of thousands of books, but this is their appeal. Do whatever ever the group does, Debbies. 

It's true, the names are so milquetoast that the reader will have trouble remembering who is who, or why anyone cares, but that is not part of this discussion. This discussion is an admonishment to DO ONLY WHAT HAS BEEN DONE BEFORE. Otherwise people will know you are putting on aires. 

Women's names should include Mary, Sally, and Jennifer. Emphasis on Jennifer. This name should be used in almost every book. And every school classroom in America should have at least four Jennifers, as far as naming actual children goes. But that is advice for another day. Elizabeth, Margaret, and Julie are also acceptable female character names. Deborah is also passable. Sarah is getting a bit religious, which will surely offend most of the country. Unless your audience is in the Bible Belt. Then Sarah rises to the top of the list. 
Finally, remember this rule of thumb. If you have an hour to write, spend most of it fussing over your character's names. Use universal search and replace to try out different names. Getting the perfect name IS FAR MORE IMPORTANT than actual plotting or demonstrations of literary prowess on the page. 

Well, that's surely enough bearing down for one day. I'll be back. 
M. Guppy Tulkinghorn

Dr. Tulkinghorn has a Ph.D in BS from a fantastically prestigious and expensive school that need not even be named, because if you don't know it by inference, you are an ill-witted onion. Dr. Tulkinghorn has self-published 47 novels and 18 nonfictions, including his New York Times bestselling book, "Hey Moron! Writing cannot be taught! Real Writers Take NO ADVICE from Anyone!  And They Write VERY SLOWLY Because this is Their Process! Ye Gads! Writing is Inborn! Never Listen to Advice from Those Who Have Been Before You, But Do Ask Them to Read Your Manuscript so You can Ignore Whatever Comments They Have for You!!" (Soon to be available in paperback everywhere.) Dr. Tulkinghorn has three pieces of free advice for writers everywhere: 1) Read at least 80 blogs a day. 2) Only the trendy conference that never actually helped anyone will do. 3) Real writers NEVER waste time learning how to use commas. They show their true genius by ignoring all pressure to write like someone with a competent education. M. Guppy Tulkinghorn is married to his wife, Wopsie “Miggs” Tulkinghorn. They live in Middle America.


  1. I'm liking this guy more and more. ;0)

  2. Better be careful, Caleb. Dr. Tulkinghorn may be looking to take over your blog for good!

  3. I'm loving these posts. Very clever.

  4. Love it! Great way to get your point across. Took me a minute to figure out why you would let this guys be on your post. I'm slow, I know :)
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