As any author can tell you, coming up with names and ideas for a story is sometimes more difficult than writing said story. The process of inventing names is a critical first step akin to looking at a blank sheet of paper and trying to find that first word.
But those methods won't work for everyone, and they won't help you with problems like thinking up the plot for your next novel.
Fortunately, I can help.
One of my ongoing projects are turnkey websites for small publishers (here's one). I've gotten pretty good at thinking up names for the companies, but I still struggle to write original and good quality content for things like the about page, book listings, staff names and descriptions, and so on.
I have not invented as many names and descriptions as your average George RR Martin novel, but I have had to come up with enough names that I went out and found ways to automate the process.
Here are a few of the plot, name, summary, and other text generators websites that I have found useful.
Edit: Here's a more detailed map generator for medieval cities.
This site has over 30 name generators, all specialized for a certain niche. There's Mormon and vampire name generators as well as generators for military code names; Korean, Thai, Arabic, Elfish names; and many more.
Perhaps my favorite one (after the "behind your back" generator) is the one that told me my stripper name was Thunder Down Under .
You won't find many book-centric name generators here but this site does have any number of "outside the box" idea generators including ones for startups, sports drinks, story plots, Jame Bond villains, Kung Fu movies (Stuttering Fists , Raging Farmer), and more.
This site will even let you make your own name generator. I haven't had a chance to test this option but it could be a great way to come up with truly unique and relevant names.
If you need a random story summary for a book then this is your site, but I wouldn't use it too much. This site has almost 2 dozen genre-specific generators, but they're not very good.
Each generator has a single template, which means if you use the horror story generator six times you will get six very similar summaries. I found I had to edit most summaries so they were unique, but I did still use this site.)
This gaudy looking site contains 29 name generators for various fantasy and SF fandom. For example, it told me my Star Wars name was Sham Disyvan, and that I was a rebel pilot from Derra IV.
This site might not appeal if you're not writing fanfic, but I for one like the off the wall suggestions. If nothing else, the names will be unique when used outside the intended fandom.
I was trying to count the number of name and other generators on this site, and lost count at fifty. This site's owner has been building them for a couple decades, so there is bound to be even more.
It's worth your time to check out all of this site's generators; they range from anime to location settings to spells, and tech.
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So what is your favorite name generator?
The five sites mentioned above include over 200 content generators, and I'm sure I only scratched the surface of what's out there.
What do you use to generate names?