Atomic-powered titles

Writing a great title for a book or article is often a challenge. Here’s how I brainstorm titles. It looks like atomic fission. (Or fusion? I never can remember!)

I start with the subject in a circle in the middle of a blank page then start adding circles for synonyms, antonyms, homonyms, rhyming words, associated nouns and verbs, biblical phrases, etc. Let the atomic reaction begin.


Once I have brainstormed until fission has slowed down, then I start looking for relationships between the various circles.

For instance, I was asked to write an article for a funeral director on the importance of showing emotion. I wrote GRIEF in the middle circle and fission-ed out to topics such as EMOTIONS, FEELING; FUNERAL HOME, CEMETARY, BURIAL PLOT; etc. I then made the connection between FEELINGS and BURIAL and came up with “Don’t bury your feelings.”

Here are some of my favorite titles that came out of this atomic reaction:

Synonyms on a lack of follow-up in evangelism: “Losing the found”

Antonyms on faith healing: “Healing: faith or fake?

Homonyms on cult abuse: “Sects and violence”

On irritations in staff ministry: “Staff or staph?”

Rhyming words on some Christians’ unhealthy emphases on demon activity: “Demons: Possession or Obsession?

Familiar phrases, titles on spiritual warfare: “Other World Wrestling Federation. On the importance of encouragement: “Affirmative Action” On the message of Christmas: “The 365 Days of hristmas.” On assurance: “Are you eternally in-secure?” On honesty in Scripture: “The Rest of the [Bible] Story”

Book titles: “Seven Habits of Purpose-Driven Writers,” “The Papoose-Driven Life”

Song titles: “Lookin’ for Love in All the Right Places,” “Lord, I Lift Your Name in Vain,” “I Can Hear You Snore.”

Most of all, have fun and let the reaction begin.

Copyright © 1999 James N. Watkins

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