Names are hard. Character names are hard enough but naming all the other things – the little things you just know that no one will remember unless you royally screw it up – those are even worse. I like to stick to fictional towns in my writing – there’s less chance of offending someone or getting important details wrong. For consistency’s sake, I’ve been known to make a sketch map of said town with important places marked – and all of those places need names. During the initial drafting, I tend to use placeholders instead of the actual names until the right name occurs to me – little things like names should never keep you from the work of writing.
It happens I was having this conversation with a writer this week so it’s a bit fresh on the brain. For me, naming things is pretty much the only proper use for the phone book that keeps getting delivered to my house. Take the phone book, close your eyes, flip pages with one hand and point your finger with the other, and bam – Diner A is now Henry’s Holler (depending on where you’re town is set – it could be Hollow) and the park with the playground is Karington Point (not actual examples from anything of mine – yet).
There are also name generators for almost everything. Baby name finders are probably used by as many writers as gestating parents. I don’t really have any I prefer, I just Google baby name finder and click a link. The DnD community has a lot of naming generators also which I’m sure helps a great many DMs make their campaigns all that much more interesting.
A few fun generators:
Fantasy Name Generators have several including town name, planet names, and description generators. If you’re really stuck – this site has something that will put the spark back in. Mithril & Mages has a fair number of generators also that I think use actual names in their dataset. Donjon has some that are ethnicity and culturally based (as well as world generators which are very neat).