Ten Things About Names
1. Need 20,000 names from around the world with meanings and etymology? Here you go.
2. BabyNamesEtc.com has a quizilla-style baby name generator that produces multiple girl, boy and unisex names, as well as a random single boy or girl name generator.
3. BehindtheName.com has a nice online random name generator that allows you to choose the number of given names, gender and surname as well as the etymology.
4. Choosing a Name & Creating a Persona by Modar Neznanich is geared for SCA folks, but may also be of interest to writers with applicable historical settings.
5. My favorite online naming resource, Kleimo.com's Random Name Generator uses data from the U.S. Census and allows you to choose male, female or both, up to 30 names, with an obscurity factor you preset from 0 to 99 (1=Common, 50=Not so common, 99=Totally obscure.)
6. Get a name for your character's bird, cat, dog, dragon or horse.**
7. Douglas Harper's Online Etymology Dictionary gives you some background and history on why lots of things were named what they were.*
8. Seventh Sanctum has an entire page of name generators for writers to play with.
9. Links 2 History's Surname directory gives helpful origins, history and variations on many medieval last names.
10. Naming twin characters can be tricky, especially when you want a non-rhyming connection; BehindtheName.com has some good ideas; Social Security Admin Online has a list of the 112 most popular names given to twins born in 2004; get some insight on naming twins from this interview with the Founder and President of Twin Services, Pat Malmstrom.
Finally, if you're looking for a way to keep track of all your characters' names, brief details, titles of the stories in which they appear and so forth, you might try organizing the info with something like Tolon Data Solutions' NoteKeeper freeware.*** Or, if you'd rather handwrite the info, use a blank address book with enough space for each entry to jot down some notes.
*Link swiped from author Joe Clifford Faust.
**Most of these links filched from Catherine Tudor's place.
***Freeware caution: always scan free downloads of anything for bugs and other threats before dumping the programs into your hard drive.