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Naming Chapters how?

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by Vvashjr, Jan 6, 2018.

  1. Vvashjr

    Vvashjr Minstrel

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    Hello! As the title of this thread says, how do you guys name your chapters?

    Do you simply title them as Chapter 1, 2, 3 and so forth? Or do you summarise the particular chapter into 1 or 4 more words(or even longer)?

    Initially I just numbered the chapters, but then I thought to give readers a "sneak preview" of what the chapter would be like with a two word description, so I changed it.

    And then I changed it by still giving word description, but categorising them under the "quest" they are currently on it, essentially my chapters are titled by the number/type of quests my party is handling. Basically,

    Pearls Beyond (the quest that 2 of my characters are in)
    Beast Within (the quest that 3 of my other characters are in)
    Beast Within
    Pearls Beyond
    Pearls Beyond
    (I cycle each characters' POV per chapter)

    I was satisfied with it, until lately when I realise by restricting a naming of a chapter to a quest does not make sense sometimes when one of my characters, who is in Pearls Beyond Quest(chapter), is doing a subquest of his own.

    So should I revert back to just numerical titling of chapters? Or a summarised description of each chapter would be better? Or any suggestions/advice?
     
  2. Insolent Lad

    Insolent Lad Sage

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    Certainly nothing wrong with numbers only I've gone both ways and probably wasted far too much time trying to come up with catchy chapter titles that no one is going to remember anyway. I do not think the name really has to tell what goes on in the chapter; just a word or two that suggests what will follow. IF there is to be a table of contents, then maybe a more descriptive title will help the reader navigate—but we don't see that much in modern fiction..
     
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  3. Heliotrope

    Heliotrope Staff Article Team

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    I love catchy chapter titles. It makes me happy when I can sum up a chapter in a few words.

    Fallen Star
    Fear and other Things
    Dreams Wait For No Man
    Songs and Hurricanes
    Sunken Ship
    Falling Up
    Monster Museum

    Are the chapter headings for my first act and I love them. Each chapter for me is an intricately crafted mini story in itself, with a beginning, conflict, and disaster, so I love to give them names.
     
  4. CupofJoe

    CupofJoe Myth Weaver

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    There is even a[n older] style where you add a hybrid paragraph/bullet point summary of a chapter as well as a number or title. I like it. It can make things seem weighty. [And it also gives you a rough guess at how much of the chapter may be left]
    I never remember chapter titles as I read as by the time I think a Chapter is memorable, I've read it and moved on. I remember chapter numbers only as an insurance against my bookmark falling out...
     
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  5. Heliotrope

    Heliotrope Staff Article Team

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    Some chapter titles are memorable to me.

    Riddles in the Dark being the best of them
     
  6. Svrtnsse

    Svrtnsse Staff Article Team

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    So far I've only gone with numbers for the chapter names. It's been sufficient.

    Now that I'm thinking about it though, I think that maybe if you want names for your chapters that's something you'll want to put some thought into. I personally wouldn't add in names as an afterthought after I'd written everything else. I'd find a few really good one and some decent and a few that just felt half-hearted and empty. It may just be me noticing it, but it'd annoy me afterwards.
     
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  7. Michael K. Eidson

    Michael K. Eidson Archmage

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    I love coming up with chapter names. Whether they will help the reader or not doesn't matter. I enjoy them, so I have them.

    Below is the chapter list for Part 1 of my WIP (which may change before publication). As you can see, many are single word titles, which perhaps makes the ones that aren't a single word stand out more, and that's okay with me.

    Within context, I think appropriate titles can reinforce the main point of the chapter to the reader, even if they don't remember the exact title after reading the chapter. It still primes the pump, so to speak.

    By Way of Introduction
    Twins
    Shadowling
    Jackalwere
    Dreamwalker
    Potion Maker
    Stalker
    Descendant
    Sorceress
    Abuser
    Rainseeker
    Job Offer
    Scheme
    Sunspark
    City Gates
    Operation Jackal
    Downfall
    Brewing
    Smoker
    Binding Promise
    Unloving
    Posters
    The Taste of Wildflowers
    Lost
    Murder
    Dracus
    Stay With Me
    Grave Matter
     
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  8. Thoras

    Thoras Minstrel

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    I know many prefer simply to have a number for each chapter, and some books with many viewpoint characters name the chapter by the character, like GRRM or Bardugo. My personal preference is the same as Helio here, I like to name my chapter with something catchy or just as a "sneak preview" as you call it. If you have a hard time to name your chapters maybe you shouldn't do it, because it isn't something that should take up your time. For me personally the names just comes to me immediately so I haven't had to think about them so far. I'll give you my first chapters for example on my current WIP:

    1. Red Sky
    2. Yesterday
    3. Chaos
    4. North

    It could just be single words or small phrases, whatever suits your preferences. Some people don't care about the names of the chapter and that's fine, but to me personally it is easier to recall the chapter with a name - both as the writer working on the book and as the reader.
     
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  9. Chessie2

    Chessie2 Staff Article Team

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    No way. Too much trouble. I just number mine. Sometimes I don't even put 'chapter' at the top just the #.
     
  10. Michael K. Eidson

    Michael K. Eidson Archmage

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    As an author tool, when I need to remind myself of an event or description given earlier in the story, having the chapter names helps me find the right chapter where to look.
     
  11. Insolent Lad

    Insolent Lad Sage

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    I just figured out that I have invented 361 chapter names (plus 24 section names) through the course of my Malvern and just-finished Mora series—the only place I've used them. It became a little difficult not to repeat myself by the end of that last book.
     
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  12. pmmg

    pmmg Auror

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    For the current WIP, I don't really have chapters, just divided the story in to four parts so far. Originally, I did not have names for the parts of the story, but had to invent them when posting on a review site some time ago. I like them now. For me, they kind of capture the theme of the part of the story people are in. But, if I was to write another story, I would likely use the more ordinary chapter style of organization. Whether I used simple numbers or descriptive titles, I don't know. It would depend on how I felt about it at the time. Which do I prefer, well, I suppose I do like the chapter names. Though I usually forget about them while reading.
     
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  13. Demesnedenoir

    Demesnedenoir Auror

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    I love naming chapters, in particular when they’re something that raises a question or refers to something not so obvious. My favorite of my own is:

    Sling Swing, Wasting Whiskey

    What the hell does that mean? You’ll know by the time the chapter ends. Others might simply refer to a character introduction, such as The Lonely Scar, or Third Son of the Second Son, or events/places.

    But in a practical sense, I like titles because when I look at Scrivener and see the list of chapters, I know what the hell they are instantly. As a reader I also find this useful because I think it’s fun to flip ahead and see chapter titles to entice me, plus, I am more apt to remember where I am in a book I put down months ago (and my bookmark goes poof as it always does) by thumbing through titles than I am by a number. As a reader, I am 100% for chapter titles, and for that matter, a contents section with enticing titles.
     
  14. skip.knox

    skip.knox toujours gai, archie Moderator

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    I'm with Eidson. While I'm writing, and especially in revision, I need more of a cue that just a chapter number. Plus, chapters get collapsed or moved or divided, and pure numbering can become annoying to maintain. Once the work is complete, and I'm assembling a ToC, then I add numbers to the names already in place.

    I follow a simple convention: no repeated chapter titles. If they are repeated (most typically, when using character names for chapter titles), then added numbers are a must. Every chapter must have a unique identifier. Your editor will thank you.

    As for the longer descriptive titles or sub-titles, they are quaint, maybe useful. They're most popular with Victorian-era novels. You know, the kind that begin "In which ... " someone goes somewhere and something happens. I recently read a book where that was done. It's a bit like those clever openings to computers games back in the 90s. It was fun the first five times. Fifteen times later you were pounding the Esc key.

    Choosing the names is a process. Most undergo some degree of changes during the novel's life from inception to publication. Each time, I resolve only to use numbers. It's hard enough to choose a book title. Why inflict forty more titles on myself? But each time, I wind up naming. It just feels necessary. A personal issue, I suppose.
     
  15. Vvashjr

    Vvashjr Minstrel

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    I did thought of naming the chapters after the POV of that character as I cycle 5 main POVs. Hahhaha Im just tempted by every idea and thus undecided on what is the best.

    Can I ask for example for you, if your chapter is named Red Sky, how did you decide on it? Does it come about because its is the name of something important to the plot? Or simply as mundane as the red sky?
     
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  16. Thoras

    Thoras Minstrel

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    I know what you mean, as I write I'm currently naming my chapters by number, character pov and a chapter name - I kind of like it but I'm not sure if people would think it is to much. So chapter one currently looks like this:

    Skärmavbild 2018-01-07 kl. 11.04.42.png

    Red Sky is the name of the chapter as it begins with a volcano eruption "bleeding" into the sky. :sneaky:
     
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  17. Vvashjr

    Vvashjr Minstrel

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    I want to go this route too. Would it be too wordy? Cos I do have 4 letter words chapters
     
  18. Thoras

    Thoras Minstrel

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    I mean if you ask me, as I do it myself I obviously don't think it's too wordy. But as I said some others may think so, I can't speak for anyone else but myself :) But I don't know really why it should bother anyone? Sure you may not care or reflect over the chapter name, but even if you don't appreciate it I don't think you would be bothered by it. It's your book, do what you prefer :)
     
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  19. Demesnedenoir

    Demesnedenoir Auror

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    I think that chapter names and little extras are so easy to skip for those who don’t care, I don’t know why they’d annoy anyone. Same goes for little blurbs pre-chapter, don’t like ‘em? Skip ‘em. Then they’re there for those of us who do like these things.
     
  20. I don't typically have chapters at all, but I usually give each part of the book a unique title. My third book does have chapters, and they are all certain words that end in 'ing'.
     
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