Inspired by a Phone Book - writercize #137

Names keep popping up lately.  

Pregnant friends considering baby names.  Photographs of names inspiring short stories in a book I'm reading, The Doorbells of Florence, by Andrew Losowsky.  Articles about selecting the perfect character name in writing magazines.  Discussions about how one of my daughters will have to correct people how to spell her name her whole life because we used her great grandmother's "i" rather than the more common "y" here.

Yes, my mind is swimming with names.  So, I figured, why not take a real name as inspiration and create a short fictional character study or vignette?  Hopefully you have a real, old fashioned phone book sitting around the house somewhere.  If not, you can apparently use a Name Shake app on your iPhone or you can google "random name" and use any of the name generators that pop up.

writercize:  Grab a phone book (or name generator ... or name shake app).  Close your eyes and open to any random page.  Point to anywhere on the page.  Create a completely fictional character based on that name.  

(I would recommend against disclosing the location of your phone book for this exercise - make up a fake location, or leave it out.  It is legal to create a fictional story about a real name, provided you state it is fiction, but the less you reveal about a person's true identity, the better for everyone.)

Click "read more" for writercizer sample response about a Cecilia Guerra.
writercizer sample response:

Cecilia Guerra

Anyone who knew Cici with her trustworthy eyes and her genuine smile knew she was a good person, someone they could lean on.  She helped old ladies cross the street.  She volunteered Monday nights to bring English and Spanish speakers from her neighborhood together for mutual bilingual learning.  She trained guide dogs.  She would listen to her friends stories about life and love and loss for hours on end.  

If there was one thing about Cici that just didn't fit, it was her name - Guerra - war - for there was not one ounce of the warrior in her bone.  From the time she was eight, Cici spent those last five minutes before drifting off to sleep dreaming up names of men she could marry with beautiful names, names that really meant something to her, names like Amor, Flor, del Corazon, Sol.  She knew that if she met a man with a beautiful name that fit him, he would be the one.  The problem was, most of the men with beautiful names seemed to posses an equally ill-fitted surname.


  1. This comment is to just let you know what I sent you an email with the guest post for this week :)

    The Madlab Post

  2. This is a good idea that I'd never thought of. Have to keep this in mind next time I need a name. I often will take a character's trait or something related to the character and make a name from that.

    One of my characters I called Joe Bloom. Joe was from Jonah since I was relating the character in a symbolic way to the Biblical Jonah and Bloom because he was like flower waiting to bloom once he had overcome the things in life he was dealing with. I've named other characters in a similar way.

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  3. Thanks Nicole - got it!

    Good name Lee - Joe Bloom. Let me know if you ever find a good one through the phone book exercise too!


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