Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Generative Creativity

I came up with a GREAT technique for naming characters:

1. Go to and generate 2 integers from 1 to 1000.
2. Go to and use the first number for the first name (for girls; there's also a page for guys in the menubar).
3. Go to and use the second number for the last name.

This can also be a good creative tool in general, for stimulating the imagination; generate a name, then come up with the persona based on it. Geoffrey Manning, for example, is a low-level sysadmin with dreams of one day becoming a star in the blogosphere, but this will never happen seeing as he only ever blogs about his cat's human-like qualities, his female acquaintances' cat-like qualities, and the fact that repeated consumptions of burritos continue in deference to his horrible bowel issues. He is played by Stephen Root, or possibly Jack Black if the director can get him to closely emulate "reserved".

Then there's Cathy Sexton, a tortured high school sophomore who carries a rather unfortunate surname in contrast to the fact that she is still a virgin. She wears thick-rimmed, leopard-print glasses, carries a My Little Pony backpack, and will be the victim of exactly one rape scene. Played by someone born no earlier than 1986 who is NOT Lindsey Lohan.

Dianna Ryan is a daytime soap opera actress with raven-black hair, a sort of semi-permanent sneer (even when she smiles; especially when she smiles), and a penchant for purses that cost more than her entire net worth.

Oscar Padilla: wildly eccentric millionaire, balding, harbors a deep desire to be the first man to walk on the surface of the sun.

And finally, Elsa Trevino... she's a hard one to pin down. Some days she's like a whisper on winds, carried farther down the lane than was ever intended, a secret on shivers that teases far more. Other days, she a fucking cunt. In any case, she works at a local independent record store, has more De La Soul albums than the artists themselves, and never wears shorter than a two-inch heel in any occasion.

Threading them all together, the soap opera star is totally whoring herself to the millionaire so that she'll get his money when he kicks the bucket. The sysadmin works somewhere within the millionaire's corporate hegemony, and dates the record clerk, who has the high schooler as a regular customer.

Beginnings of a story right there, from a mere ten random numbers. Solid.

UPDATE: our ever-selfless pal cxreg has cobbled together a wedge page to automate the process described in this post. I thank you from the bottom of my pancreas, cxreg, as do the newly-generated Cora Sanchez, Rod Lawson, Silas Drake and Janine Hammond.