1. Tiger Shark
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    Tiger Shark Member

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    Naming chapters; Yes or No?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Tiger Shark, Jun 10, 2010.

    I need some feedback. I've been working on this piece for sometime. I want it to look good for review. I have five chapters almost finished. I started naming the chapters like I've seen in other books. What are your opinions?
     
  2. Tavares765
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    Tavares765 Member

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    i went through a similar situation with the novel im writing now, its been a few years and only recently did i give titles to my chapters. I think that naming chapters are a great idea, it allows you to make each chapter special and it can be easy on the reader too. Imagine if your reader wanted to read a part of your book that tug at their heart but they had to go through the hassle of remembering wether it was chapter 23 or 18. It's much easy to remember "oh right that part is in 'the twisted road' chapter"

    I say if it feels right for you, go for it! :)
     
  3. marina
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    marina Contributing Member Contributor

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    If it's for an adult audience, I'd generally recommend against it. However, lately I've read several books (general fiction) that had titles, and it didn't lessen the book in any way. If anything, it gave an interesting clue as to what the next chapter would be about. So I'd agree w/Tavares and say go for it if it feels right for your book.
     
  4. Nikhil
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    Nikhil Contributing Member

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    Arguments for Titles:

    • Titles give a little hint on what is going to come next and is generally very useful.
    • It is easier to remember chapter names rather than Page No. or Chapter No.
    • They are catchy interesting to read and it would not make the book look plain.

    Arguments against Titles:

    • Sometimes Titles are silly as the author tries to put a weak alliteration or rhyme.
    • Some Titles are never informative and are rather stupid which focus on a small-one time scene.

    I would recommend titles but use them wisely. A Chapter Title broadly covers the whole chapter. Too big titles are not amusing.

    EDIT: Remember if you post something for a review here, it would be inadvisable to publish it.
     
  5. izanobu
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    izanobu Senior Member

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    It totally depends on the style and tone of the book. As with many things, if done right chapter titles work great. Go with what you want. After all, they are easy to put in or take out.
     
  6. Shinn
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    Shinn Banned

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    Go ahead and name the chapters if you think your book needs them :)
     
  7. Tiger Shark
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    Tiger Shark Member

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    Cool, Thank you all. My chapter titles are just one or two word phrases that don't really give anything away. They are intended to entice the reader into exploring deeper and only hint at the chapter's content.
    Thanks again. I feel inspired...:-}
     
  8. Thanshin
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    Thanshin Active Member

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    I don't think I even read chapter titles. I also skip chapter quotes and rhymes, song lyrics in the text and, in general, anything that's not the text itself.

    I do read footnotes if the first ones in the novel are good; otherwise I skip those too.
     
  9. kinetica
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    kinetica Member

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    Personally, I wouldn't care either way. I haven't read many books where the Chapters were given specific names.
     
  10. Mila
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    Mila Member

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    I think it depends on the book. Rosemary Sutcliff used chapter titles and I like them, and Inkheart has some wonderful quotes at the start of each chapter, but the book was about books so it worked; it was in context. The first fantasy book I read - the Hobbit - also has chapter titles and I still remember them.
    I use chapter titles as I write as I keep each chapter in its own document and it helps me to remember what's happening in each, at a glance, rather than just chapter 1, chapter 2, etc.
    So, if you feel you need them, put them in. You can always take them all out again if need be.
     
  11. Nikhil
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    Nikhil Contributing Member

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    That is the need of chapter titles. They arouse curiosity and suspicion in the readers. Use them in the correct way and you'll prosper but of course the chapter's content must not be disappointing.

    E.g: In the title it says that a character died but it turns out that it was a joke and the other character was yelling "He died."

    Many people, including me, do not like such humour.
     
  12. Humour Whiffet
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    Humour Whiffet Banned

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    It’d only bother me if it was giving things away. Therefore it sounds fine to me.

    I wouldn’t do it myself though, because I wouldn’t want the hassle of thinking them up!
     
  13. Northern Phil
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    Northern Phil Active Member

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    I would only recommend using chapter titles if you were treating each chapter as a seperate short story. For example I'm writing something now and I am using chapter titles, the first chapter worked out at about 40 pages with 18,000 words.

    If you have a chapter that is only going to be 3 or 4 pages long then I wouldn't use them.
     
  14. AnonyMouse
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    AnonyMouse Contributing Member Contributor

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    I love naming chapters. It gets me motivated to write them, helps avoid the dreaded "blank page paralysis," and (I hope) gets a potential reader motivated when they flip through and see what I've got in store. The actual writing should be the key motivator, but the titles give a little something extra.

    Buuuuuut, be careful not to let the titles turn into spoilers. I usually keep mine somewhat vague. Most allude to a theme, a person, an event, or a new location that is introduced in that chapter, but I try not to use proper nouns (i.e. don't specifically name the person, place, or thing) because those names may not mean anything to someone who is just flipping through.

    A good title (whether it be for a chapter or otherwise) should have multiple meanings. If the reader can look at it and get a full, perfect meaning, with no alternative interpretations, you have effectively taken away one of the main reasons to read what lies within.
     
  15. Sonata
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    Sonata Member

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    I like it when a writer uses a quote to set the mood for each chapter. After all, someone else has always said it better before, no?
     
  16. Thanshin
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    Thanshin Active Member

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    I'd rather work under the premise of that not being true. :)
     
  17. Sonata
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    I'd like to think the of the great "said it better befores" as a bit of a springboard to be honest but that would have been a bit of an over-complicated explanation of my reasons for liking quotes lol
     
  18. Thanshin
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    Thanshin Active Member

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    "By necessity, by proclivity, and by delight, we all quote. " - Ralph Waldo Emerson,
     
  19. Sonata
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    Sonata Member

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    :) very apt
     
  20. Diablo Robotico
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    I seem to remember someone somewhere saying it was harder to get published with chapter titles, and publishers are less likely to allow you to do that, unless you're already published. But maybe that was a dream or something.

    Anyway, I do like naming chapters, and I love names of chapters. My favourite chapter in the Hobbit is 'Riddles in the Dark' but I probably would have to search around for it if it didn't have a title.
     
  21. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    I wouldn't name my chapters, and most of the books I read don't name them either. Some authors will label chapters with a location or a date. And I know some generes are more inclined to title chapters than others.

    I see no need to do so.

    It does seem to be more common in books aimed at younger readers, though.
     
  22. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    just what i was going to say... thanks for saving me the typing yet again, amigo!

    if this is a genre novel for the adult market, i'm pretty sure giving your chapters titles will be seen as amateurish to most agents/editors...
     
  23. Afterburner
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    Afterburner Active Member

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    I tend to like chapter titles. I like to get a hint at the next chapter, and sometimes they can even entice me into the next chapter.
     
  24. TerraIncognita
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    TerraIncognita Aggressively Nice Person Contributor

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    On one hand it's a good way to get the reader to keep reading. That is if it gives a tantalizing clue to what happens next. On the other hand you can accomplish the same thing by ending each chapter leaving the reader hanging. ;)

    I think it really depends on the writer and the book.
     
  25. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    I agree with Terra I. The story should keep the reader tantalized. If you need chapter titles to motivate the reader to keep reading, someting is wrong. Perhaps you are placing chapter transitions at "rest points" of the story, were there has been a resolution with no new tension added.

    Answers and resolution don't keep the reader moving forward. New puzzles, new threats, and new mysteries compell the reader. Answers bring satisfaction, so the biggest answers should pile up at te end of the book. Prior to the end, every answer should bring forth new problems and threats. Instead of rest points, you convert your chapter transitions to pivot points. The break allows the reader to set the book down, but keeps the reader speculating what the latest change will mean to the overall picture.

    Even when the chapter break is used to separate scenes or discontinuities in time, you still should end chapters with tension (keeping in mind that new doubts or questions are a form of tension).

    Note that the use of chapter titles is often associated with a table of contents, which in modern fiction is a feature of books for younger readers.
     

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