Howdy and hello! Thanks to everybody who responded to one or more of these prompts. It’s quite nice to get an email filled with interesting words instead of the usual junk I usually find in my inbox. The submissions have been very entertaining, so keep sending them!

Names can be a tricky thing in fiction. If you name a character Chuck and your cousin’s name is also Chuck, are people going to think Chuck in the book represents Chuck in real life? If Chuck in the book is a psycho, does that mean you think Chuck in real life is deranged? Get ready to overthink a topic, author!

Being that I mainly write dark fantasy, the names can be as strange as I want. That’s good. If I name somebody Andrea Barber, somewhere there’s somebody named Andrea Barber who might have questions. Am I trying to say something about Andrea Barber in subtext? But in dark fantasy there are names like Corzaz Drinhex or Spithor Trigulga that are less likely to land on a real person. I also have a lot more control over the subtext with names like that, so I prefer to stay on that side of the fence.

Prompt: Frankenstein 2 or 3 words to make a name, using a couple letters from each word. Example: Adam + Spoon + Cheese = Adspese or Amchoon or Chadoon or Chespada or Spesam or I could go on and on. Another Example: North + Results + Vacation = Noreva or Revano or Sucanor. Then feel free to add a title to the end: Noreva Chadoon, the Butcher of Spesam. Try it out riiiiiiight… NOW!

Prompt: Take your fancy new character and write a brief physical description. The words were gibberish until I saw them together with a title. With the title, I can start to easily picture Noreva. She’s shadowy and slouched. She wears a long coat of deep purple with high collars. She doesn’t say much, she lets her intense eyes do most of the talking. She wears black gloves and a wide brimmed hat. (If she’d been Noreva Chadoon, the Banker of Spesam, she’d certainly have a different physique and wardrobe, possibly even different gender. We’ll never know. Noreva is the Butcher now.) Okay, now YOU go. Write a quick description of the character you invented with the Frankenstein name thingy.

Prompt: Give your character a secret. For example: Noreva is very uncomfortable around birds. She’d never let on, of course, but they just give her the creeps. They’re tiny monsters, for crying out loud! It’s a big reason she prefers to be out at night, rather than the day. She won’t even eat chicken.

Prompt: Give your character a nightmare about their secret. For Noreva, she’s being attacked by birds, being dragged away by them, carried up into the sky, delivered to their leader – a gigantic flightless bird with insane eyes. It swallows her whole, doing that creepy neck-jerk thing birds do. Then it digests her and she hatches as a baby bird, only to be eaten by a bunch of other baby birds, all featherless and blind. (This will probably have Noreva in a dark mood for the rest of the day. Someone could die.) Okay, now YOU go!