1. Shimario

    Shimario Member

    Joined:
    Dec 7, 2016
    Messages:
    95
    Likes Received:
    13

    Is having a chapter 0 a good idea?

    Discussion in 'The Lounge' started by Shimario, Jan 13, 2017.

    All thoughts are welcomed.

    So like the title says, is having a chapter 0 a good idea? Like, its not a prologue but its a chapter that explains what happened before chapter 1. I could see it being useless, but what if its important to the story, like to explain what happened before chapter one and to possibly even start the book of with some action?
     
    Cave Troll likes this.
  2. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2010
    Messages:
    13,216
    Likes Received:
    7,789
    Location:
    California, US
    Why wouldn't you just call it Chapter 1 and renumber the others?
     
    halisme and BayView like this.
  3. Homer Potvin

    Homer Potvin Get off my Balzac... Staff Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2017
    Messages:
    7,704
    Likes Received:
    14,298
    Location:
    Rhode Island
    it's like the way floors are numbered in Europe vs. the US... their first floor is our second... still the same distance from the pavement...
     
  4. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 9, 2010
    Messages:
    15,344
    Likes Received:
    13,070
    "explain what happened before chapter one" sounds like backstory. Backstory is usually a bad idea. When backstory facts are important to the story, they should usually be introduced bit by bit as the story goes along. If there's a huge glob of backstory, then the beginning of the story should probably back up so that the backstory becomes story.

    I also don't see how this differs from a prologue or Chapter 1.
     
    B93 likes this.
  5. big soft moose

    big soft moose An Admoostrator Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2016
    Messages:
    18,122
    Likes Received:
    21,123
    Location:
    East devon/somerset border
    Just write the story - number the chapters when you are done (and there's no real difference between numbering it prologue, chpt 0 or chpt 1 - the first chapter is the first chapter what you call it is irrelevant)
     
  6. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 5, 2010
    Messages:
    13,216
    Likes Received:
    7,789
    Location:
    California, US
    Yeah. The fact that there's an urge to call it Chapter 0 tells me it might need to be cut. Can't say without seeing it.
     
  7. big soft moose

    big soft moose An Admoostrator Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2016
    Messages:
    18,122
    Likes Received:
    21,123
    Location:
    East devon/somerset border
    yeah but if you cut it chapter 1 will then be chapter 0 :D
     
    Steerpike likes this.
  8. Cave Troll

    Cave Troll It's Coffee O'clock everywhere. Contributor

    Joined:
    Aug 8, 2015
    Messages:
    17,656
    Likes Received:
    26,644
    Location:
    Where cushions are comfy, and straps hold firm.
    Holy shit! That is what I have tried to call a Prologue, chapter 0. Pretty cool. :)
     
  9. Sack-a-Doo!

    Sack-a-Doo! Contributor Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 7, 2015
    Messages:
    2,419
    Likes Received:
    1,644
    Location:
    [unspecified]
    Those with a technical bent see '0' as the first ordinal number, so if it's science fiction, I'd say this makes sense... not as a way to explain things, but just the most logical way to number chapters.

    A prologue would be Chapter -1. :)
     
  10. Homer Potvin

    Homer Potvin Get off my Balzac... Staff Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2017
    Messages:
    7,704
    Likes Received:
    14,298
    Location:
    Rhode Island
    You can always run your chapter numbers backwards too. I think Stephen King did that with The Running Man. It was set up like a countdown. I messed around with that in a book once. It looked stupid and affected when I did it.
     
    Iain Aschendale likes this.
  11. Sack-a-Doo!

    Sack-a-Doo! Contributor Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 7, 2015
    Messages:
    2,419
    Likes Received:
    1,644
    Location:
    [unspecified]
    For my next novel, I'm considering numbering the chapters by day number since a certain event far in the past (6,000 years in the past) as a way of counting up to day #2,000,000 since that event.
     
  12. Homer Potvin

    Homer Potvin Get off my Balzac... Staff Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2017
    Messages:
    7,704
    Likes Received:
    14,298
    Location:
    Rhode Island
    That could work. Dates make great chapter headers. I've always liked books were there are no chapter numbers too. Just the chapter title or whatever.
     
    Sack-a-Doo! likes this.
  13. big soft moose

    big soft moose An Admoostrator Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2016
    Messages:
    18,122
    Likes Received:
    21,123
    Location:
    East devon/somerset border
    Jeffery Deaver did binary chapter numbers in 'the blue nowhere' which was about computer hackers, while many military books use D minus whatever down to D day and then T plus whatever once the operation has started. (richard herman is one example)

    The bottom line on that sort of thing is its fine if its relevant to the book - it only comes off as stupid and affected if the reader doesn't make the connection
     
  14. Rozman

    Rozman Member

    Joined:
    Dec 10, 2016
    Messages:
    30
    Likes Received:
    23
    In my opinion, start with 1 or go without numbers.
     
  15. Selbbin

    Selbbin The Moderating Cat Staff Contributor

    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2012
    Messages:
    4,538
    Likes Received:
    3,446
    Location:
    Australia
    Personally I don't see the point. Why can't you call it chapter 1?
     
  16. Dnaiel

    Dnaiel Senior Member

    Joined:
    Oct 14, 2016
    Messages:
    504
    Likes Received:
    324
    I don't see anything wrong with it myself. A publisher might. I dunno. But what you're really doing is illusory. Chapter 0 becomes the heading for the first chapter, which is chapter 1. Which means Chapter 12 is the thirteenth chapter, and thus is chapter 13. But everyone will still call them chapter 0, chapter 12 anyway.

    Star Wars: Rogue One could be called Episode III 1/2. A fan created a crawl for it and titled it "Anthology". Maybe something like that would work? But it's your call, your responsibility.

    A lot of books start the way you describe. Movies, too. Which is fine as long as it's useful and not boring, not an information dump, etc. Just make it work and make it good.
     
  17. Iain Aschendale

    Iain Aschendale Aunt? Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2015
    Messages:
    16,532
    Likes Received:
    31,965
    Location:
    Plot 1369, Staff Yasukuni
    If it was some sort of SF or military fiction, something dystopian, I think a "Chapter 0" could be pretty cool. In any other genre though, it would just hurt.
     
  18. Tenderiser

    Tenderiser Not a man or BayView

    Joined:
    Aug 12, 2015
    Messages:
    7,547
    Likes Received:
    10,212
    Location:
    London, UK
    Chapter numbers/titles/whatevers don't register with me - my eyes skip straight over them - so I wouldn't even notice.

    But I don't see the point. If it comes before chapter 1 then chapter 1 is chapter 2 and this is chapter 1...
     
  19. Iain Aschendale

    Iain Aschendale Aunt? Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Feb 12, 2015
    Messages:
    16,532
    Likes Received:
    31,965
    Location:
    Plot 1369, Staff Yasukuni
    I think of it like the Pol Pot thing, when he reset the national calendar to start with a year zero. That's why SF seemed to fit for me.
     
  20. 20oz

    20oz Active Member

    Joined:
    Feb 10, 2016
    Messages:
    175
    Likes Received:
    156
    Location:
    In a white, walled tomb
    "To explain Chapter 1"? Do you mean explain the story we're about to read or a continuation of Chapter 0? Why not just write a Prologue or Introduction, or start from Chapter 1?

    Without much context though, how am I supposed to know if Chapter 0 is a good idea? Do you need it for time travel purposes? Is it the end of one adventure while another begins, and if so, why isn't it Chapter 22 or something like that?

    Auuugghhh!
     
  21. newjerseyrunner

    newjerseyrunner Contributor Contributor

    Joined:
    Apr 20, 2016
    Messages:
    1,286
    Likes Received:
    1,233
    Makes me think you are a programmer. Why people always start a 1 is beyond me, 0 is the first integer. It depends on what you think Chapter numbers are. Are they ordinals or a position index?

    If you have a list of things: Apple, Orange, Banana.
    The 1st object is in the 0 position.

    Why not just give them number? Just call it a new chapter, you're obviously not naming your chapters or using them in any way other than to break up action. Am I correct? Numbering doesn't matter to the story, the only one who might care is the editor / publisher.
     
  22. minstrel

    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2010
    Messages:
    10,799
    Likes Received:
    9,965
    Location:
    Near Sedro Woolley, Washington
    Ever read a book that starts with Chapter 0? I haven't.
     
  23. matwoolf

    matwoolf Banned Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 21, 2012
    Messages:
    6,807
    Likes Received:
    10,127
    Location:
    Yorkshire
    Chapter Zero, the introductory chapter to the latest edition of the preeminent cost accounting textbook on German Standard Costing, Flexible Plankostenrechnung und Deckungsbeitragsrechnung

    From Management Accounting Quarterly 2004 overview by ANTON VAN DER MERWE
     
    Iain Aschendale likes this.

Share This Page

  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.
    Dismiss Notice