Writing a great title for a book or article is often a challenge. Here’s how to brainstorm titles. It looks like atomic fission. (Or fusion? I never can remember!)
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, twists on quotation etc. Let the atomic reaction begin. (This is brainstorming, not editing, so don’t judge anything. In fact, through the atomic process tell your inner editor to stay out of it!)
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, CEMETERY, 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:
Homonyms: Are Authors in Their Write Minds?; Sects and Violence; on irritations in staff ministry, Staff or Staph?
Book titles and song titles are not copyrightable, so generally you are free to use them as is, but it’s much more creative to twist them just a bit. Keep in mind that title can be trademarked such as Chicken Soup for the Soul. However, you can spoof them.
Song titles: Lookin’ for Love in All the Right Places; Lord, I Lift Your Name in Vain
Plays on words: Crossing Over with the Cross: How to Take the Word to the world; Dying to Know: Questions on Death
Most of all, have fun and let the reaction begin.
Copyright © 1999 James N. Watkins