Eliminating “Character Writer’s Block” with uinames.com
Recently, I was writing storyboards. When I came to a scenario, I felt that old, familiar feeling coming on: What names should I use for the characters?
It’s a strange sort of writer’s block. We all know lots of names, right? And we couldn’t possibly have used all of them in one set of storyboards. And yet, if you’re like me, you’ve found yourself staring out the window, trying to think of all the people you know, searching for a name that brings the scenario to life.
That’s where this very handy tool comes in: uinames.com. While there are other random name generators out there, here are a few reasons why this one stands out from the crowd.
As you can see in the screen capture, uinames.com has a clean, uncluttered design. This makes it user-friendly and intuitive. All the options you need are right there at the top.
First, click “Random Gender,” “Male Only,” or “Female Only,” depending upon your storyboarding needs. Then, click the globe to select a country. One tap later, and you have a name suitable for storyboarding. And if you don’t like it? Just keep tapping!
While uinames.com offers a wide range of names, the website emphasizes quality over quantity. Users can contribute names to the database but are encouraged to stick with the most common names for each country. That may sound limiting at first, but it’s something I appreciate. If I’m writing storyboards for a company based in Mexico, I’d like to think I was choosing names the employees would feel were genuine.
If you’re using a touch-screen device to view uinames.com, you’ll tap the screen as shown above. If you’re using a traditional monitor, you’ll press the spacebar.
While this feature doesn’t change the results—you get the same names either way—it is a fun, nice-to-have feature. And in a crowded internet landscape, that means something.
There is no charge for using uinames.com.
All of these reasons contribute to my using uinames.com as my default random name generator. That said, nobody’s perfect, and there is one area where I’d love to see the website tweak its format.
Let’s say I’m looking for the name of a woman from China. When I tap the screen, this is what I see:
This is true for any country that uses characters or a non-Latin alphabet (such as Russia and Greece). Depending upon your storyboarding needs, you may wish you could simply choose a character from one of these countries, but unless you can read the names in their native script, that won’t be possible.
I mentioned earlier that uinames.com is one of many random name generators you can choose from. For more ideas on finding just the right name, see Desiree’s post: Choosing the Right Character Names for Your Training Scenario.
What are your favorite ways for eliminating “character writer’s block”? Share them with us in the comments!