Include clever in-jokes by tuckerizing

One way of rewarding the careful reader is by tuckerizing. This involves naming secondary characters or offstage icons after people or objects many readers would recognize as a sort of in-joke.

For example, in Larry Niven’s and David Gerrold’s novel “The Flying Sorcerers,” all of the gods are name after famous science fiction personalities, such as H.G. Wells and Gene Roddenberry (the creator of “Star Trek”).

The term is named after Wilson Tucker, a prominent science fiction critic and fan perhaps best known for coining the term “space opera.” He often used names of his friends in his science fiction stories, the source of the term tuckerizing.

Successful tuckerizing requires being unobtrusive. The name never should stand in the way of the story and its dramatic tension. To that end, Niven and Gerrold altered the spelling of their gods so that H. G. Wells was “Ouells” and Roddenberry was “Rotn’bair.”


My name is Rob Bignell. I’m an affordable, professional editor who runs Inventing Reality Editing Service, which meets the manuscript needs of writers both new and published. I also offer a variety of self-publishing services. During the past decade, I’ve helped more than 300 novelists and nonfiction authors obtain their publishing dreams at reasonable prices. I’m also the author of the 7 Minutes a Day… writing guidebooks, four nonfiction hiking guidebook series, and the literary novel Windmill. Several of my short stories in the literary and science fiction genres also have been published.