This is a game you can play to exercise your storytelling powers and pick up some interesting character ideas at the same time. Using the white pages from a telephone book or an online name generator, randomly select and write down a list of ten names (to avoid using real names, I pick the surnames and first names separately and randomly pair them.)
Once you have them all jotted down, look at the name, imagine a person to go with it, and write a one-sentence description of who they are and/or what their story is.
Here's my list:
1. Elisabeth Raber: ordinary business woman by day, street artist by night. Likes to sketch people who are unaware of it and sells her artwork in her little gift shop. Unknowingly draws a portrait of an international hitman.
2. Hershel Sterry: Mortician, funeral director, protector of the dead. Hershel is the human embodiment of that ferryman who transports souls across the river Styx.
3. Courtney Hiott: Gorgeous, blonde, the Paris Hilton of her high school. Has just landed a promising modeling contract but has a terrible secret.
4. Paul Queler: average-looking, mild-mannered, nice guy whom everyone likes. I think he's Elisabeth Raber's hit man.
5. Millie Signorelli: A lovely middle-aged Italian lady who travels to the States to set up the American branch of her family's fashion design firm. Designs the most expensive purses in the world, but can never find her own.
6. Doug Taylor: Ambitious executive with a taste for low-grade blackmail, which backfires on him in a big way on a golf course.
7. Josephine Chatulani: a somewhat mysterious, temperamental islander who runs a ramshackle beachside cafe. Tells fortunes spontaneously. Her food always makes you happy.
8. Robert Oehling: Salesman, quick-talking, Bob to his friends, of which he has a thousand. Has to become a hostage negotiator when he accidentally walks into a bank robbery in progress.
9. Oswald Sarno: Officer Ozzie. Career patrolman, big guy, heart of gold. Looks after the elderly folks on his beat. Runs into the Angel of Death one night and arrests him.
10. Cedric Winterfield: born silver spoon in mouth; he definitely has a III after that last name. His grandfather made his fortune in something very unsavory, like strip-mining. Falls in love with a homeless girl who wants nothing to do with him.
Kleimo's Random Name Generator ~ Name Nerds! ~ PBW's The Namator Game, Namely Ten, Ten Things to Help You with Naming Characters, and What's in a Name? posts ~ Seventh Sanctum's Page of Name Generators