Monday, November 7, 2011

On Random Name Generators

When I write, I tend to pay a great deal of attention to names, whether of places or characters. Sometimes, especially for an important name, I'll try to attach a double-meaning to it, but for most applications if I don't have something in mind from the beginning I'll hit a random name generator or two to get the ideas flowing. Seventh Sanctum is my favorite website to find these, but occasionally I'll venture farther afield.

For example, the other day I was working on a fantasy-setting project and needed a quick NPC name. I knew that I wanted it to sound vaguely Arthurian, but didn't want to crib it directly from the Round Table. Lo and behold, a quick Googling brought me to the Dragon's Mark Name Generator, "Dragon's Mark" evidently being a forum name.

It's quite a slick little gadget - the interface is nice and clean, and whatever mechanism is used for generating the names does a fairly good job at making them sound consistent with various origins, though I doubt they (especially the Tolkien ones) actually mean anything. If I knew more - i.e., any - of the languages in question I'd probably try to deconstruct them for the humor, but since I don't, I'll settle for pointing the way towards what could be a very handy writing tool.