Alter ego

842088What does it mean?

‘Alter ego’ means another side of oneself, or a second self. It can also be used to refer to a close or trusted friend.


The meaning of ‘alter ego’ in English is ‘alternative personality.’ This Latin term was first used in English in the early 16th century (circa 1530.)

Improper use

‘Alter ego’ is a popular figure of everyday speech, so common that some people may not even be aware that it is actually a Latin term. It is rarely used incorrectly, although the use of the term to mean ‘close friend’ is often forgotten.

Proper use

Alter ego should be used to describe another persona of somebody, usually one that the person in question has created for themselves. Examples of use of the term in a sentence include:

‘Beyonce’s alter ego is Sasha Fierce.’
‘His fiercer, more confident alter ego seemed to appear when he was performing on stage.’

Or when referring to a close friend:

‘She and her alter ego were inseparable.’
‘You never saw him without his alter ego Edgar.’

Writing under a pen name

There are a few reasons for wanting to write under a name (a nom de plume as it’s otherwise called) that is different to your own. Maybe you share your given name with a writer who is already well known or you want to branch out into another genre, but don’t want your new work to be associated with your previously published fiction, articles or otherwise.


Spend some time thinking about your nom-de-plume

Regardless of the reason, choosing a pen name can be harder than it sounds. Here are some tips on finding a name that is right for you.

  1. Don’t use an anagram or wordplay, on your real name. This might seem like a fun thing to do, but people will suss you out; especially if you have a very distinctive writing style.
  2. Choose a name that means something to you. I chose the pseudonym under which I write erotica by combining the names of two characters from different films I like. Have fun with it.
  3. Come up with several different names. Don’t frustrate yourself by sitting down and trying to think up that one perfect name – instead, make a list of many, both forenames and surnames, that you like. Mix them up and put different ones together. You’ll soon find something that you think sounds perfect.
  4. Be sure that this is the name you want. You can’t suddenly decide to change it, so make sure this is a name that is really right for you and not one that you’ll be bored with in a week.
  5. Pick a name that is reasonably short (as it will need to be visible on a thumbnail of your cover) and which is memorable.

Writing under a pseudonym can be fun and even a chance to create an alter ego. It is important to choose a pen name that is not only appropriate, but also that is meaningful to you.