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Naming Chapters how?

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

  1. Heliotrope

    Heliotrope Staff Article Team

    Hey, my book has separate parts with unique titles too!

    (I call them chapters, ;) lol.)
  2. For my first book, I had each part named after an aeon [which in my universe is akin to a span of 100 years], and a colour, with the end result that the overall book was highly influenced by alchemy [black, white, red, gold].
  3. TheCatholicCrow

    TheCatholicCrow Inkling

    Yes! During the first few drafts I have chapters labeled "Interrogation" "Murder" "Cover-up" "Car chase" ... (To Answer the OP:) They get more clever after I'm so comfortable with the story that I know backward and forwards ... by that point, I end up with stuff like:
    • "Work is a Four Letter Word"
    • "The Sandwich"
    • "The Stiff"
    • "Death and Donuts"
    • "Along for the Ride"
    • "Drowning" (when the MC is interrogated but starts the chapter discussing a childhood nightmare of drowning then draws a parallel to how he feels at the time... being a Crime Thriller, it may appear that someone is dead... not so!)
    • "Boys Will Be Boys"
    • "No, We Don't Have a Union"
    • "The Picture" ...

    of course, this isn't the same genre but as you can see my choices are a combination of simple elements from the story, common sayings/phrases, clues, red herrings, etc. The chapter w a crime of passion (accidental stabbing turned intentional murder) is called "Oops!" The following are "Times Up", "What Now", and "Gone" ... each is named after a question/ dilemma posed at the end of the previous chapter. Thus, at the end of "Times Up" we know the MC has a body and is left wondering how he will dispose of it. This opens into "What Now" so that it is still relevant, but not giving away too much.

    With Mystery/Thrillers the titles have to work with the pacing and the information reveal in titles can't get too far ahead of the rest of the story. In Fantasy this might be comparable to calling a chapter "King Dunlar's Defeat" ... the whole chapter we'll already know that he's going to lose the war ... even though that IS technically what best describes the result of the chapter, it works best not to say it outright. At least, that's the approach I take. I try not to be more than 2 or 3 words. If I can get away with referencing a clue that doesn't become obvious until later (such as "The Sandwich" ... which is an interrogation after a body is found in a sandwich shop ... the importance is not the shop itself as you might think when you start the chapter, but a sandwich found at the scene which points to a particular suspect.

    Hope this helps!
    Michael K. Eidson likes this.

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