Naming the characters in my stories has always been challenging and in some cases can lead to a block. However, recently I’ve discovered a veritable fountainhead of creative names: spam! Spam provides an endless supply of names for all sorts of characters.
A few samples from this morning’s Gmail spam:
Miruna Hauser - the Harley’s strange, new houskeeper
Janelle Belcher - demur sister of Pete Belcher the high school football star, never married and never asked
Walter Esmeralda - creepy old caretaker of the (insert haunted mansion here)
Try it, it’s fun!
Excellent! Just from this morning I have:
Marian K. Dejesus - a Latin American nun who is taken in for questioning by the police but not told her crime.
Nolly F. Norris - the arresting officer who has a chip on her shoulder because a typo on her birth certificate led to her being called “Nolly” instead of “Molly”.
Goins - the teenage hacker who scuppers the police station security system for a laugh, thus inadvertantly letting Marian go.
This is fun!
I could smash my head onto my desk - several times.
This is pretty good, thanks!
damn, why did I spend hours on baby naming websites?
Daughter of a dotty armchair explorer: Amazon Couk.
My favorites so far are “Tracked Q. Propriety” and “Stalemate Q. Fruition.” Not that those names would work in anything but a comedy…
Ibbi Lichtin, a small-time, Southside bookie, once associated with the Lanksy mob,
now wearing concrete boots at the bottom of the Chicago River
(or is he selling grey market Cialis on the web?)
I just got Jerzy Sutherland, a small time hood trying to make it big in the Big Apple.
This morning I met Beau Delarosa, an Argentinian gigolo with a fondness for
cork-tipped cigarettes, small red carnations, and double-breasted suits.
Unbeknownst to the wealthy matrons he escorts and enthusiastically beds,
Beau is also an informer for petty bureaucrats in the Peron government.
I think we should get all of these characters together in some sort of ongoing melodrama… Who wants to begin?
OK this could be fun. We could do it like the continuing story I use in some seminars I run.
The rules are few and simple. They should be familiar to anyone who’s done some improv.
Yes, and… Never deny someone else’s story premise or try to shoot it down. In improv the technique is known as Yes, and…
Whenever you continue a story, use the Yes, and… technique.
It’s not about you. Always try to make your partner look good. Your job isn’t to be funny or clever, it’s to make the whole thing work.
By focusing on making your partners (the other story tellers) look good, everyone will succeed (and things will be naturally funny or clever).
The soul of wit. Be brief. We could set up arbitrary limits such as 100 word maximums, but I’m not sure we have to go that far.
The idea is not to tell the whole story but to grow a seed that’s been given to you and plant a seed for the next person.
The more efficiently we can each do that, the more fun (and creative) it’s likely to be.
No turns. The right time to step in is when it feels right. The right time not to step in is when it doesn’t. There are no turns.
If something compels you to add anything from a sentence to scene, do so. If not, no worries.
It’s over when it’s over. Anyone can declare an end to the story. If you think it’s over, just say so.
(nothing’s worse than zombie improvs that keep going on long after they’re dead)
There are other improve and story telling guidelines, but these should probably work for us at this stage.
Anyone else willing? Anyone else have any guidelines, or any different perspective on the ones I’ve laid out?
Nothing is etched in stone at this early stage. But it would be smart to agree on how we’ll behave with one another before we begin.
I’m in, who else?
Well, Keith. Looks like nobody wants to play. At least not the way I described the game. Oh well. People are probably too busy actually writing!
Meanwhile, I’ve collected some more delightful ones. Anybody care to limn a short sketch for the following miscreants?
All the best, Keith. By the way, have I told you how much I love Scrivener?
Wait a day or two. Some plants take time to root.
These spam-name lists are absolutely phenomenal.
I love it!
My favourite name has been with me for years, from before the spam era, but I’ve always thought that if ever I got round to writing a thriller, the villain, of dubious, but probably mixed South African origin would be called
Portobello van Rental
Perhaps this thread has merely been in a coma rather than dead, and will revive.
Ever since bobbyjohn introduced this wonderful source, I’ve been collecting
spam names. Even if my new hobby weren’t useful (though it is), I’d be
delighted, because my whole attitude towards spam has changed. I actually
look forward to my morning delivery of viagra and penny stock promotions.
I’ve collected some fantastic names. A small sample:
Beverly Abifaker â€¢ Alicea Arbuckle â€¢ Cameron Beaver â€¢ Chrystal Bell â€¢
Chang Carlton â€¢ Mauricio Cash â€¢ Alphonso Chase â€¢ Osmany Clausner â€¢
Numbers Delacruz â€¢ Anton D’Anton â€¢ Mere Fakinder â€¢ Wolf Florian â€¢
Avninder Fujima â€¢ Desneiges Hinchey â€¢ Kwissy Landtgraver â€¢ Clotilda Love â€¢
Rashawnda Marchel â€¢ Charity Milkweed â€¢ Dukie Parrnell â€¢ Araceli Pruitt â€¢
Cacilia Rockie â€¢ Demetrios Rheinheimer â€¢ Torvald Sother â€¢ Todd Steeno â€¢
Vasen Wessel â€¢ Wakuka Wajamengo â€¢ Shimo Zomo
(reluctant to sign my own name)
Some odd ones that I’ve fetched recently: Dexclusion Casein, Blanche Robles, Guveritable Rhetoric, and – Burped. Guberitable Rhetoric is my favourite. I could see a whole series of cheesy crime novels written with that one.