Never wholesale because rarely do I want to inflict my game plots on people I know.
-Do you draw upon a list of names you like that you’ve compiled?
I sometimes peruse a baby-name website if I want a specific name that starts with G, or if I have no clue I’ll search names that mean something relevant.
-Do you use a random generator?
I have used an anagram generator to inspire ideas based on several trait words I enter - often not using the complete anagram, but just to get names that aren’t variations of John Smith.
In Cannery Vale: The Innkeeper’s name was always ‘Don Gary’ “but my friends call me Ollie!” - Donald Theodore Oliver Gary, or ‘Don T. “Ollie” Gary’. I intended to put that in somewhere - likely on the gift basket, but I don’t believe I ever got it in the release.
In Final Girl: In the complicated meta-fiction all the characters are played by actors in a movie, and their “real” surnames are all indicative of colors, which is a nod to the board game Clue.
-Do you use your friends’ names?
Not wholesale. I may associate a first name of someone I know with a trait, but if I build characters based on people I know, I will purposely not match the name except if it’s satire of a public figure or celebrity.
I will namedrop actual people in a game, usually as an easter egg or acknowledgement when they are helpful and not really as characters you interact with. If you examine enough hallway doors in Fair there is a math classroom with “Mr. Brush” listed as the teacher. Transparent also contains a good number of shout-outs.
-For fantasy names, do you use an in’or’din’ate am’oun’t of apos’trop’hes?
Only in cases of satire, like Baker of Shireton. but I will occasionally use an apostrophe to mix up a long list of names. My current real-world favorite name is Aislinn De’ath who was in Shapeshifting Detective and …Dr. Dekker.
-Do you use overblown fictional names like Anastasia Steele (from 50 Shades )?
Again, usually when it’s satire or to make a point. In Fair I worked for a while to come up with an appropriate “author” sounding pseudonym for the PC.
-Do you use underwhelming fictional names like Bill Smith or James Williams?
Not on purpose unless I specifically don’t want the character to stand out. Bob the Hobo in Baker of Shireton was a placeholder (named after the example character in Eric Eve’s conversation extensions) that ended up sticking because it amused me.
-Do you let your cat walk across your keyboard to come up with something?
I’ve had a cat delete an entire page before I saved it by walking on the keyboard, so not if I can help it.