1. Garball
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    Garball Sometimes nothing can be a real cool hand. Supporter Contributor

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    Titling chapters

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Garball, Jun 10, 2013.

    Does anybody do this to aid the reader in timeline/ flashbacks or to give hints to the content of the chapter or overall storyline?
     
  2. blackstar21595
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    blackstar21595 Contributing Member

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    Why not just number the chapter?
     
  3. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    Not many contemporary novels for adults have titled chapters, so that's something you might want to take into consideration if you're writing for the adult market. I'm not sure how often chapter names are used in YA books.

    To answer your question, no, I don't do it, but I'm not against it.
     
  4. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    I am. For the moment I'm going with temporary titles but I do plan to use chapter titles in the finished book that refer to time, locations, events or people, single words or very short phrases, I think.
     
  5. Phecda
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    Phecda New Member

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    It all goes hand in hand on what the writer thinks is best for their book, and for the readers, as well as thyself.

    For my personal experience, I find trying to title chapters a hard task (as the subject of naming and titling always has been proven difficult for me). I like it when a book I am reading has titled chapters, so when I go back and look for something to reference on, or to simply enjoy rereading a scene, I can remember where much better than searching through numbered chapters.
     
  6. TerraIncognita
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    TerraIncognita Aggressively Nice Person Contributor

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    You're going to get a lot of different answers to this question.

    Personally I only use titles while I am working on it and not once it's finished. I prefer using the first line and last line of a chapter to motivate the reader to keep reading.
     
  7. Thomas Kitchen
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    Thomas Kitchen Proofreader in the Making Contributor

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    Why not just title the chapter? :p

    In all seriousness though, it is true that not many adult books title their chapters, so unless you're writing a YA or younger, consider carefully why you want to title your chapters. Is it to make the book feel more "exciting"? If so, rely on the writing in the chapters, not the chapter titles. Is it to hint or foreshadow something later on in the chapter? This a fair reason, but again, the writing in your chapters could do this for you; foreshadow from there.

    All I'm saying is consider the reasons why you want to do it. I personally don't like titled chapters, but there are many people out there who do. Writers and other such people may give you their opinion on things, but in the end fiction writing has almost no unbreakable rules, and no one knows your book better than yourself. So if you feel your book would benefit from titled chapters, then go for it; I'm just saying that you should know why you're doing it, and remember to think about what audience you are writing for.

    Just as a quick example, children love titled chapters because usually they are exciting ones, and so they wait in anticipation for when that particular moment in the chapter arrives. But when writing for older teenagers and upwards, readers prefer it less. This is because many writers cannot title their chapters properly for advanced readers and thus give away far too much before the chapter even begins, and for me at least, this is a huge shame. There are many people I know who are avid readers and hate spoilers of any kind, and I hate them even more. So unless you manage to title your chapters well, perhaps doing so is not a good idea.

    Bottom line: think before you act.

    Hope that was of some use to you. :)
     
  8. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    it's done in children's books and some YA... for adult market, chapters are generally just numbered, though some fantasy novels do have titles...
     
  9. EdFromNY
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    EdFromNY Hope to improve with age Supporter Contributor

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    Thus far, I have four completed, two partially completed and set aside and one novel in progress. In three of the completed works and the two partials, I did not use chapter titles. But in one of the completed works and my work in progress, I did. In the completed novel, it was to mark out specific episodes that were dominant in each chapter. It also tied in nicely with the chapter of the novel, The Cathedral Under the El, because I entitled the first chapter The El and the final chapter The Cathedral. In my work in progress, a historical novel that involves the discovery of a girl's ancestry, each historical chapter is titled for the ancestor portrayed in it, while the modern chapters are titled for the dominant event that is described within.

    If either work is ever published, it remains to be seen if my titling survives.
     
  10. EmmaWrite
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    EmmaWrite Member

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    It depends on the tone of your book. If your book is lighthearted and quirky, then humorous chapter titles can add to the writing. If your book is serious, chapter titles might make the writing seem gimmicky.
     

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