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Offline GearPress Steve

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Names, names, names... names? Names!
« on: March 07, 2014, 08:15:22 PM »
Need help with names? Here are three lists for you. These lists are for the US, but you can find similar lists for other countries as well:

Top 1000 Surnames in the USA
http://names.mongabay.com/most_common_surnames.htm

Top 1000 Female First Names in the USA
http://names.mongabay.com/female_names.htm

Top 1000 Male First Names in the USA
http://names.mongabay.com/male_names.htm

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Offline LeeBee

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Re: Names, names, names... names? Names!
« Reply #1 on: March 07, 2014, 08:27:10 PM »
I was forced to open this post because the title didn't clearly convey what it was about. :D

Thanks for sharing these links!
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Online Wayne Stinnett

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Re: Names, names, names... names? Names!
« Reply #2 on: March 07, 2014, 08:35:51 PM »
I use the phone book white pages. Open it at random and point to get a first name. Open it at random and point again to get a last name.
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Offline GearPress Steve

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Re: Names, names, names... names? Names!
« Reply #3 on: March 07, 2014, 08:42:15 PM »
I use the phone book white pages. Open it at random and point to get a first name. Open it at random and point again to get a last name.

That was the way I used to do it before the intarwebs!

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Re: Names, names, names... names? Names!
« Reply #4 on: March 07, 2014, 08:47:20 PM »
That was the way I used to do it before the intarwebs!

Without opening any of the links, let me guess something. The names are in alphabetical order. Wonder how many characters will be named Ann, Andy, Arthur, Amy, or Alice......
NINC President-Elect, 2018. My Amazon Bestselling, eleven-volume Jesse McDermitt Series and the spinoff,  three-volume Charity Styles Series, also Amazon Bestsellers, are available in ebook, audiobook, and paperback, with many more exciting adventures to come. In my motivational non-fiction, Blue Collar to No Collar, I provide tips, advice, and strategies for new authors, and is also available in the same formats. Don't forget to visit the Ship's Store for Jesse McDermitt swag.
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Offline GearPress Steve

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Re: Names, names, names... names? Names!
« Reply #5 on: March 07, 2014, 09:14:11 PM »
Without opening any of the links, let me guess something. The names are in alphabetical order. Wonder how many characters will be named Ann, Andy, Arthur, Amy, or Alice......

Nope. They're in order by percentage of the US population that has the name based on the 1990 census.

MARY   
PATRICIA
LINDA   
BARBARA
ELIZABETH
JENNIFER

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Offline nightfire

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Re: Names, names, names... names? Names!
« Reply #6 on: March 07, 2014, 09:16:34 PM »
I use the phone book white pages. Open it at random and point to get a first name. Open it at random and point again to get a last name.
I would do that but I don't get phone books anymore! :)
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Offline Chris P. O'Grady

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Re: Names, names, names... names? Names!
« Reply #7 on: March 07, 2014, 09:18:27 PM »
Nope. They're in order by percentage of the US population that has the name based on the 1990 census.

MARY   
PATRICIA
LINDA   
BARBARA
ELIZABETH
JENNIFER



Steve I was thinking that its probably a good idea to use names which all start with the same first letter for all of my characters and ending in a vowel. Perhaps the same vowel if possible? I could call this metro characterization? What do you think? This way I don't have to page through the lists?

Offline colegrove

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Re: Names, names, names... names? Names!
« Reply #8 on: March 07, 2014, 09:20:26 PM »
Characters should only be named after brands of cigarettes and watches. I thought that was a rule.

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Offline GearPress Steve

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Re: Names, names, names... names? Names!
« Reply #9 on: March 07, 2014, 09:20:43 PM »
I would do that but I don't get phone books anymore!

I used to love to go mess around at Tampa International Airport at 3:00 AM because I am a night person and they had phone books available for use by the public from every major US city.

Obviously me going out and messing around at the airport at 3:00 AM was very, very pre-911.

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Offline GearPress Steve

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Re: Names, names, names... names? Names!
« Reply #10 on: March 07, 2014, 09:23:52 PM »
Characters should only be named after brands of cigarettes and watches. I thought that was a rule.

Hmmm. Never knew of that rule. I knew that it was a rule that strippers had to be named after cars, but...


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Offline GearPress Steve

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Re: Names, names, names... names? Names!
« Reply #11 on: March 07, 2014, 09:27:58 PM »

Steve I was thinking that its probably a good idea to use names which all start with the same first letter for all of my characters and ending in a vowel. Perhaps the same vowel if possible? I could call this metro characterization? What do you think? This way I don't have to page through the lists?

You may be on to something. How about giving all of your characters the exact same name?

"Dave, where's Dave? And what about Dave? Did he leave with Dave?" Dave asked.
"I don't know," Dave replied. "Maybe they're with my mom Dave, Dave."
"Maybe. Did you meet Dave's wife Dave? Quite the hottie. And his little daughter Dave is such a cutie," Dave said.

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Offline Chris P. O'Grady

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Re: Names, names, names... names? Names!
« Reply #12 on: March 07, 2014, 09:36:21 PM »
You may be on to something. How about giving all of your characters the exact same name?

"Dave, where's Dave? And what about Dave? Did he leave with Dave?" Dave asked.
"I don't know," Dave replied. "Maybe they're with my mom Dave, Dave."
"Maybe. Did you meet Dave's wife Dave? Quite the hottie. And his little daughter Dave is such a cutie," Dave said.

It WOULD make POV easier, err right?  :P you would never be wrong!

Offline AndreSanThomas

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Re: Names, names, names... names? Names!
« Reply #13 on: March 07, 2014, 11:15:16 PM »
I find www.babynamewizard.com really useful.  If you click on their Name Voyager, you can scroll over various decades and find a name that matches the time frame of when your character would have been born.  Or, if you pick a name that doesn't fit, you can address that by mentioning they're named after Grandma or something.  In other sections of the site you can get name origins, sibling names that sync, etc.

You may be on to something. How about giving all of your characters the exact same name?

When I wrote my first work (an 80K masterpiece that will probably never see the light of day), I realized after the draft was complete that I had named no less than 6 different minor characters "Jake" without realizing it. 
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Re: Names, names, names... names? Names!
« Reply #14 on: March 07, 2014, 11:41:11 PM »
When I wrote my first work (an 80K masterpiece that will probably never see the light of day), I realized after the draft was complete that I had named no less than 6 different minor characters "Jake" without realizing it. 

I once worked in an office that had a staff of twenty, of which six men were named David.

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Offline CrissyM

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Re: Names, names, names... names? Names!
« Reply #15 on: March 07, 2014, 11:50:10 PM »
I've been using EBON (Ever Changing Book of Names) for years.

http://ebon.pyorre.net/

It's a downloadable program. It has a lot of chapters, and each chapter creates a specific type of name. Everything from Western, East Asia, African, Klingon, Tolkien's elves, or Warhammer. You can also program in your own formula to create something new.

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Offline AndreSanThomas

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Re: Names, names, names... names? Names!
« Reply #16 on: March 07, 2014, 11:56:50 PM »
I once worked in an office that had a staff of twenty, of which six men were named David.

My 6th grade class had 7 Michaels.  Hey, it was the 70's.  Fun part was the teacher made all of them go by their middle names.  "Jude" hated it.
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Re: Names, names, names... names? Names!
« Reply #17 on: March 08, 2014, 06:05:18 AM »
In my corporate life at a very large company my job required me to work with long lists of names.  Eventually I realized something odd.  You'd think that names on these lists would be spread out evenly in the alphabet--that is, half the surnames would start with A-M, and the other half would have surnames N-Z.  But that didn't seem to be the case.  Over the years, it seemed to me (very unscientific, I admit) that at least 60-65% of the surnames were in the A-M group.  Other than the letter S and T, the latter half of the alphabet was noticeably more sparsely populated.

I found that interesting.  Trivial, but interesting.

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Offline Ugg

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Re: Names, names, names... names? Names!
« Reply #18 on: March 08, 2014, 06:09:32 AM »
I write fantasy...a bit tougher. What I often do is look up names in other languages, Sanskrit being a favorite, and change them around a bit.

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Re: Names, names, names... names? Names!
« Reply #19 on: March 08, 2014, 06:59:53 AM »
Nope. They're in order by percentage of the US population that has the name based on the 1990 census.

MARY   
PATRICIA
LINDA   
BARBARA
ELIZABETH
JENNIFER


Ah, guess that'd be perfect for a bunch of 20-something characters. But, since mine are middle aged characters and most folks my age still have a home phone and phone book, it works for me.

This way I don't have to page through the lists?

How many characters do you have in an 8 page book?
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Offline swolf

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Re: Names, names, names... names? Names!
« Reply #20 on: March 08, 2014, 07:56:05 AM »
I once worked in an office that had a staff of twenty, of which six men were named David.

I play inline hockey, and we used to have a pickup game every Friday night.  One night we were short on people - just ten skaters showed up.  We threw the sticks into the middle and someone randomly tossed them to sides, which is how we pick up teams.   That night, one team had all Jims on it.

Offline Chris P. O'Grady

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Re: Names, names, names... names? Names!
« Reply #21 on: March 08, 2014, 07:58:44 AM »

How many characters do you have in an 8 page book?

Lol so true. I am seeing 3-4 characters in short. My why has been doing th same, usually 2 are the primes. On the novel I am working on I have 3-4 primes and about 8 secondaries.

:)

Offline H. S. St. Ours

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Re: Names, names, names... names? Names!
« Reply #22 on: March 08, 2014, 08:51:15 AM »
If you use Scrivener and don't use the name generator, you are missing out on hours of fun inventing cool names and not actually writing anything.

Ridiculously granular options include but are not limited to:
Attempt alliteration
Double-barrelled surnames
Forenames use initials only
Obscurity level
Foreign language lists

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Offline Sandra K. Williams

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Re: Names, names, names... names? Names!
« Reply #23 on: March 08, 2014, 09:23:49 AM »
I've been using EBON (Ever Changing Book of Names) for years.

http://ebon.pyorre.net/

It's a downloadable program. It has a lot of chapters, and each chapter creates a specific type of name. Everything from Western, East Asia, African, Klingon, Tolkien's elves, or Warhammer. You can also program in your own formula to create something new.

Great link, and perfect for fantasy writers. Thank you.

Offline Callie Ray

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Re: Names, names, names... names? Names!
« Reply #24 on: March 08, 2014, 10:05:55 AM »
If you use Scrivener and don't use the name generator, you are missing out on hours of fun inventing cool names and not actually writing anything.

Ridiculously granular options include but are not limited to:
Attempt alliteration
Double-barrelled surnames
Forenames use initials only
Obscurity level
Foreign language lists

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