Headlines and other titles

This is probably painfully obvious already, but I am a bit rubbish at writing headlines. What’s especially bad is that I also need this skill for my day job. Ah well. There are lots of guidelines to follow, long lists of hints and tips, but in the end it comes down to imagination and, somehow, my imagination generally fails me on this front.

My favourite solution to this problem is to come up with a system, something TV shows in particular go for. The classic is the much emulated Friends “The one with…”. Other recognisable systems include the Scrubs “My…”, Big Bang Theory‘s made-up science stuff (“The spaghetti catalyst”, “The maternal capacitance”) and Life Unexpected‘s plays on its own title (“Bong intercepted”, “Rent uncollected”).

I think the one-word title is often a strong solution. The Good Wife uses this, as does Skins. But it doesn’t tend to work as well for books or articles.

Also popular with newspapers and TV show episode titles is the play on a famous catchphrase, song, film or book title, for instance Sex and the City‘s “Four women and a funeral”, Family Guy‘s “Dial Meg for murder, Veronica Mars‘ “Weapons of class destruction” and almost every episode of The Simpsons.

Slightly less successful is just using the song, film or book title verbatim (Entourage does this a lot), which displays a certain lack of imagination (not that I’m one to talk).

This is something I think about and worry about but, on a blog like this, does it matter? Particularly on a book review?