Scrivener: Name Generator Tool

NameGeneratorScrivenerOne of the features of the Scrivener writing software I’ve been using a lot lately is the name generator. I’ve used it to come up with character names like Alisz Masurien and Aharon Brotman for my WIP.

I’m a very name-conscious writer. I’ve collected name books in English and German, and have made a list of Korean names from the Korean dramas I used to watch. So you’d think I wouldn’t get much good out of randomly generated names. But for all but the most major characters, I find this tool useful.

You can select the ethnic origin of the first and last names, and whether it’s a male or female name. It gives you a list of 10 (or more) names, and you can add the names with possibilities to a shortlist.

One warning— I don’t think you can trust this tool entirely. It can come up with some pretty odd combinations that I suspect (or know) are unrealistic. It can mix old-fashioned names with ├╝ber-trendy new names, and if you don’t know the culture involved you might not suspect.

This is what to do about that: make a list of 3-5 name possibilities, and then Google each name, and also Google to find reliable name information. For example, if you want a French name, seek out some good French name websites. If an Israeli name, try Israeli name web sites. If you find your last name and first name on sites like this and no one is saying ‘no one would name their kid this’, it’s probably a good name.

Another good use of the name generator is to create temporary names for minor characters. If you keep a notepad by your computer (you should), you can note down the generated name, a hint about the character it’s attached to, and then when you have time you can research a better name.

Have you ever used a name generator to create character names? How did it work for you? What other methods do you use to create character names?

Writing with Scrivener

scrivenerNot long ago I got a tip from an internet friend that the writing software ‘Scrivener’ was on sale at Since it was at a good price and for a change I had a bit of money I didn’t absolutely need for survival, I picked it up. And now I have to learn Scrivener.

I have owned writing software before. Some of them turned out to be some would-be writing teacher’s method of teaching you how to write the One Correct Way. Even if such software had worked for me, I doubt I’d want to go through that process for each book I wrote.

Scrivener, as I understand it, has a reputation of being useful to real, published writers, no matter what working methods they happen to be using.

I have been watching YouTube videos that purport to explain how to use Scrivener, and I’ve read an ebook on the subject from I’m beginning to pick up some ideas on how I can use Scrivener in a way that’s compatible with how my mind works.

I’m doing an experimental short story using Scrivener. Well, I don’t know that it’s going to end up a short story. I’ve heard that once Stephen King sat down to write a short story and ended up writing one of his longer novels. I’ve done something similar. Attempting to write a haiku, what I ended up writing was a sijo (a Korean style of poem, longer than a haiku).

Today’s writing work was mainly setting up some background. The story is set on a colonized planet, and the central group of characters are ‘rigeros’— ‘cowboys’ who herd large lizardish animals called ‘rigords’ (REE-gourds).

Getting the rigords to market at the right time in order to bring back needed supplies to get their people through the coming winter is essential. But when the rigeros discover some women and children abandoned in the dust prairies, they must either leave these innocents to die, or not get their animals to market in time to get supplies to their people before winter.

While the setting for this world is taken from a ‘Terran Empire’ setting I’ve used before, this particular planet and the cultures of the main characters in it are wholly new, and so much needs to be created from scratch.

I’m hoping to keep this story to short-story length— but since I have to do a good bit of worldbuilding for this one story, I kind of suspect that ultimately a novel will result. But I’m hoping to keep THIS story at short-story length (under 7,500 words) or at least novelette/novella length. The full novel can result when I’ve written an additional short story–>novella featuring the same main character dealing with the problems created by solving the problem of the first story.

If there is any interest in this blog post, I might share some of the specifics on how I happen to be using it for my story creation process. I think I’ve got some ideas that even less-weird writers might be able to use.