Saturday, March 05, 2005

Fun and games with character names

A year or two ago I posted a Character-name Generator (scroll down -- it's at the bottom of the page) on my website just for laughs. Here's how I introduced it:

And now, for some lighthearted fun:

Still struggling to find the perfect names for your story people? Don't despair -- help is here!

Brenda's Character-name Generator

A Must-have Tool for the "Serious" Romance Novelist

You choose "male" or "female", then click the button, and up pops a name suggestion for the hero or heroine of your romance novel. When I first discovered (and modified) the javascript, I thought it was cute. But a lot of people don't catch that tongue-in-cheek introdution and are taking my "must-have tool" quite seriously. I can't believe how many websites are linking to that page, and how many writers have thanked me for providing it.

I've always been faintly embarassed about the whole thing. But okay, fine. If you find a name you love, go ahead and put it in your novel. Although in the spirit of full disclosure, I must tell you there are only about 40 last names in the hat and an equal number of first names for men and women. So click that little button enough times and you'll see the same names pop up over and over again. So will everybody else.

If you're looking for some real originality, I recommend that you open your phone book.

For more fun and games with character names, check out this baby-name website. It uses some exceedingly cool graphics to give you a popularity rating for baby names during the past hundred years. Among other things, I learned that nobody is naming little girls "Brenda" anymore.

Now I feel so uncool, stuck with this bummer name nobody likes. Thanks a lot, Mom and Dad.


Heather Diane Tipton said...

Ah but if no one else has your name that would make you original! ;-)

Anonymous said...

there are far worse names in our family...

tristan coulter said...

That website is really neat. I'm glad to know that I was a "Tristan" before it was cool.

Anonymous said...

Well, I've known a lot of Brendas. How many gals named "Mirta" do you know? And how many non-Hispanic folks can actually pronounce it properly? Not many. Even my husband has to work at it. Sigh.

Try having a name that, if someone mispronounces it a certain way, comes out like the Spanish word for POOP. And then marry a Teutonic-Magyar-Celtic sorta guy whose last name doesn't do squat to improve things.

And this is why I almost changed it to Alejandra when I became a US Citizen. Except my dad would have killed me. And my mom (who shared the name) would have felt low. So...

I learned to like it--most days.

Mir (the short version)

Anonymous said...

Okay, at the site, my name made the top 1000 in the decades from 1930's through 1960 (when I was born). After that, it dropped out.

I'm ahead of my two sisters. Neither of their names was EVER in the top 1000. (Balbina and Inocencia, now THOSE are old fashioned names.)