An Observation: “Generic” Names

I wrote a previous post in which I referred to two childhood chums by using rather generic names: Chris and Johnny.

Later, I had a few thoughts about “generic” names.

You probably know someone named Chris. You probably know someone named Johnny.

Using very common names as “generic” names really isn’t the greatest idea. Sure, they’re “generic,” but, statistically, you will eventually use a name that inadvertently identifies a person (whether they are actually part of the story or not). Even in this era of instant communication and the quest for viral fame, some people just might not like the idea of being the subject of a story.

So, with that in mind, I’m going to try to avoid overly generic common proper names in the future.

Some generic names for products don't translate very well. I was very disappointed in this one.
I suppose this isn’t exactly a “generic” name. My new Eye Pad doesn’t even need a charger.

I’ve decided that once I start thinking about anecdotes, I should go ahead and give each person a less-than-common-yet-very-common “generic” name.


That’s right. If I’m writing about a childhood friend in an anecdote, they could be renamed “Person” simply because…well, it’s the truth.

But, gee, Meticulously Observant Observer! What if you are talking about more than one “Person”?

I’m glad you asked!

I will refer to each additional “Person” by using an identifying letter. Let’s try it in a witty exchange of dialogue, shall we?

“Say, shouldn’t you be careful out there, Person A? It’s raining cats and dogs,” said Person B as she opened her umbrella.

Person A smiled. “I’ll be fine, Person B, but I’ll be careful. I wouldn’t want to step in a poodle!”

I…hope all of you “persons” out there are cool with this.

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