Even though most of my writing is nonfiction, I have written a few fiction pieces, and one of the more difficult parts of that process is coming up with character names. Boring names are, well, boring. My dear wife has suggested that I collect common names and create a quick program to randomize them, but that sounds like too much work. I’ve tried the phone book trick for names, but I have an even better method now: I’ll let the spammers come up with names for me.

I’m not talking about the email addresses of spammers. Those often look like an explosion in an old-fashioned typesetter’s office with names like nmn6n87mxh57dh@yahoo.com or mfctd1yqgsz@ccpc.net. (Hmm… I wonder how old mfctd1yqgsz is doing these days.) I guess you could take those names, sprinkle some apostrophes throughout, and set them in some fantasy story since nothing says fantasy like random punctuation. (“And thus did Trogdor smite the M’fct’dly’Qgsz. And there was much burnination.”)

But I’m more interested in the friendly name that can be associated with an email address. These look more like real people. Speaking of people, here are just a few names I pulled off my server today:

Luis Henry
Felicia Johnson
Dennis Hall
Christian Lopez
Danika Arnold
Tiffiny Powell
Ophelia Duncan
Katherine F. Easley
Willie Richardson
Wayne Freeman
Russ Harris
Leonard Harrison
Laurence G. Walker
Gloria Peterson

I don’t know about you, but some of these names seem to come pre-equipped with personalities. “Tiffiny Powell, of the New Hampshire Powells, explained the spelling of her name to her new roommate thus: ‘Mumsie wanted to name me after her favorite store, but she wanted my name to be unique, so she toyed with “Tiffani” and “Tiphanie” before settling on my current spelling.’ Ophelia appeared to be listening, but her mind was somehow caught up in visions of flowers and thoughts of swimming.”

On second thought, I think I’ll have Trogdor burninate both T’iffiny and Oph’eli’a.

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