Friday, June 4, 2010

I Have Discovered a Magic Formula for Titling Books

First, before I share my genius with the world, can I just say that "titling" is an odd word. I want to either read it as "tilting" or think of it as slang for a tiny breast. Just me?

Now. Sometimes, admittedly not very often as evidenced by my lack of blogging activity in the last few months, I am struck by the God of Great Ideas and given some rare insight that we mortals call an "epiphany."

Today's struck in the shower. (This seems to happen more often than not, which makes me think I should spend more time attending to personal hygiene.) I was standing there, you know, with the water beating my chest and et cetera, when a title came to me from out of the mist. Picking Blueberries in the Rain, that was the title. Not too shabby, I thought. Not something I would write, but I could see it as one of those books Target always puts at the end of the aisle. You know, the ones I walk past on my way to walking past the glut of vampire novels so I can find the one or two titles that I might actually consider reading. Picking Blueberries in the Rain would be right next to Three Cups of Tea or Water for Elephants. That kind of book.

And then something else happened. (We're back in the shower now.) Another title came to me. This one was Drawing Pictures in the Dark. I thought that was pretty good too. Kind of mysterious. Might be about an artist with autism. It didn't take divine inspiration to then make the following leap. I soon realized that by using a very simple formula, you, yes, even you, can make your own eye-catching, imagination-sparking title. From the God:


Try it. Pick any verb, plural noun, and place and presto! Even the bad ones are kind of good, like Licking Marbles in the Bathroom.

You could do much worse.

I'd make this a contest, but I suck at sending prizes, so just have at it. Using the above formula, leave your titles in the comments. Go nuts. Leave all you want. But please know that the Murphblog legal department would like to inform you that any title you post can (and probably will) be stolen and used on a future Target aisle book. Someday you'll see it, right next to Making Rainbows in the Sand.


Jonathon Arntson said...

Lighting Candles in the Wind

Writing Songs in the Night

Eating Brunch in the Morgue

Filling Holes in the Lawn

Spreading Butter in the Church

Chewing Gum in the Outfield

Paul Michael Murphy said...

Lighting Candles in the Wind is about all the people Elton John has known who have died.

Writing Songs in the Night is about a songwriter who's been dumped by his one true love and thinks he can win her back by writing the perfect song.

Filling Holes in the Lawn about one man's battle with a gopher.

Spreading Butter in the Church--I have no idea, but it's awesome.

Chewing Gum in the Outfield is about a kid who hates baseball but plays because he's trying to please his demanding father.

Ocean Girl said...

Jonathon is so funny. Eating Brunch in the Morgue is a guaranteed bestseller!

Jonathon Arntson said...

For most of my life I thought Titleist was pronounced 'tit least'.

Anonymous said...

Blowing Farts in the Bathtub

Anita said...


Anita said...

All my life, my mom called breasts breasts. Then I told her I was making an audition tape for SURVIVOR, and she said, "What?! You want your titties hanging out for all the world to seeeee?!"

Tracy Edward Wymer said...

Flopping Jiggies in the Garden.

Rena said...

Great titles, Paul, especially the one about the pictures in the dark. Eating Brunch in the Morgue is good too. My mind is going blank to be as creative as all of you ...

Kelly said...

Man, anonymous stole mine.
I think Anita's book is an autobiography.
And Anita, you sent in a tape for Survivor?

Lip Syncing in the Music Aisle at Target

Scratching Mosquito Bites in the Backyard

Watching Lifetime in the Basement (or adult movies)

Picking Scabs in the Classroom

Stealing Kisses in the Bleachers

Tipping Cows in the Midwest

Paul Michael Murphy said...

Picking Scabs in the Classroom---All sorts of metaphor possibilities in that one.

Anita said...

KELLY: Hee-hee! Yeah, I sent in a tape about five years ago. It MUST have gotten lost in the mail, because I didn't get chosen. Alas.

Tina Laurel Lee said...

Agree with you about titling as an odd word. Thanks for the formula. As I am a awful titler(hmmm?), that will come in handy.

The Wife said...

Eating Ho Hos at Overeaters Anonymous

Blowing Kisses in the Wind

Shooting Spitwads at the Pearly Gates

Screaming Obscenities in the Lobby

Turning Cartwheels in My Mind

Chasing Pipe Dreams in the Morning

Writing Titles After Midnight

This is fun. I could go on for hours...

Typing Word Verifications in My Pajamas

Tina Laurel Lee said...

I love those!

Anita said...

I think PMM should choose a winner.

Anonymous said...

Shooting Baskets in the Hood

Buying Berries in the Burbs

Throwing Horseshoes on the Shore

Sticking Pencils up my Nose

Flying Airplanes through the Fog

Scraping Doo Doo off your Shoe

Paul Michael Murphy said...


1st--Eating Brunch in the Morgue
2nd--Shooting Spitwads at the Pearly Gates
3rd--Picking Scabs in the Classroom

Hon. Mention--Buying Berries in the Burbs (mostly because I'm a sucker for alliteration)

And I should say that The Wife thought it unfair of me to recognize one of hers, but that's silly. Anyone who saw us at home would know I rarely attempt to curry favor.

There was no quid pro quo.

chris said...


chris said...

Wow, it works!

Kelly said...

This was amusing.

Jonathon Arntson said...

First place? I am honored.