The hardest thing I find about writing (after the actual slog of the writing part) is naming characters. It can become a real drag to find the right name and it makes the slog so much harder. So a couple of years ago I started using names pulled randomly from the names of senders on spam messages. Some stick and end up used into the final version and some get replaced once the stories finished and I’ve time to think about a better name during editing.
When I posted a list of 13 of them as a Thursday Thirteen it was great technique that saved me no end of time and felt less like hard work than using books of names, random generators or other methods.
Now I have a problem. Where I used to have 1200+ spam messages to pick from I’m down to about 400 and the names have become really poor. With only a fraction being names and not just random gobledygook. The same is true of the constant stream of comment spam to my blog: of nearly a thousand spam messages caught by Akismet not one has had a believable or amusing name. Its almost like its become harder to spam so spammers have become a bit bored and are struggling to get up in the morning to put the effort into their job anymore.
Its a shame because at least in the good old, bad old days of spam they seemed to take some pride in having believable names to try and trick you.