As both an avid reader and fledgling writer, I often consider the naming of chapters.  By no means do I consider the practice necessary, nor do I see many authors doing so these days.

There are, however, times when I haven’t been able to help myself.  For example, I once wrote a short story with food items as chapter titles.  Within each chapter I worked that word into the storytelling.  They ultimately tied together as ingredients in a recipe.

The reason I chose to expound on the issue here, however, is because of an e-book I recently downloaded.  This particular author, who composed a decent tale, took an odd stance on titling.  She actually used the location, month, and year in which the ensuing interval occurs.

Because the storyline sometimes visited the distant past, that might not have seemed a bad choice.  However, I found that her habit merely pulled me out of the story without purpose.  After all, the flashbacks were just that – flashes – and always appeared in italics.  I can’t think of one instance where the title came from the past, either, while the timeline progressed naturally from the end of the previous chapter.

I’ll definitely consider this experience for my future writings.  What is your opinion?  Do you like chapter titles?  Do you use them?  Or perhaps I’m odd for even considering the point.  Please let me know what you think!

4 thoughts on “Writer Wednesday – Chapter Titles

  1. Good question! I never used to use chapter titles, until I started having to in order to post on SDS. Most of my stories there have titles, but not all. Now, it's become habit and the titles grow out of the action in the story.

    I've seen place/date a lot in fantasy literature (one famous example is Anne McCaffrey's Dragonriders of Pern series). I like it, because it grounds the story in details and makes me think. But I agree, sometimes if all want to do is read the story, thinking about the date and time is jarring because it makes my left-brain sequential mind intrude on the moment.

    But I do think thinking about titles for chapters is of interest for authors, esp. because the book titles aren't always under your control when you're working with a publishing house. Titling chapters, though, is more likely to stick the way you write it, so you can have more control over the story and how it's told.

  2. Awesome comment! Thank you for sharing.

  3. I like cahpter titles so that later, if I need to pop back and find something, it helps. The title should hint at the action in the chapter but not give everything away to the reader before hand. So, yeah, I ike them.

  4. Great advice, Rachel! Thank you.

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