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Writer's Circle > Chapter Titles or Numbers

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message 1: by Alp (new)

Alp Mortal I have never really thought about this. I looked back and saw that, throughout my output, I have tended to use Titles in preference to Numbers - I don't know why.

Do you know why you use one or the other or both?

Alp


message 2: by Anne (last edited Jan 27, 2015 03:35AM) (new)

Anne Hagan (anne_hagan) | 286 comments I write fiction and, though it is customary to use only a number, I titled my chapters in my first book too and I'm doing the same in my second book. For me, because I work in MS Word and I leave the navigation pane open, the titles act as my outline anchors. They make it easy for me to jump backwards to specific places in the text and change or add something so that something in a later chapter works a little better.

I title the chapters to have something to do with what's going to go on in that chapter and I make them up as I go. It's sometimes overt and sometimes cryptic so it's not a spoiler for the reader. Interestingly, I've had a couple of readers comment on titles in the first book. It's a mystery and meant to be on the lighter side but not humerous. Still, my chapter title "Dana in Deep Doo Doo" really tickled at least one reader!


message 3: by Lorna (last edited Jan 26, 2015 07:52AM) (new)

Lorna Collins (lorna_collins) | 93 comments For our memoir, I used only titles because each chapter told about a different event or subject. For fiction, however, we use numbers. Like Anne, I keep the navigation pane open in MS Word while I write and also while I edit. I'm always amazed to see how many of the writers I edit for mess up their chapter numbers--either leaving out sequential numbers or duplicating them or going from text number to numerals. It's a matter of preference, but I do think in a novel with a continuous story, numbers are sufficient.


message 4: by Anna (new)

Anna Faversham (annafaversham) | 277 comments I like it when books have chapter titles but I'm not very good at thinking them up for my own books, which have numbers.


message 5: by Lenita (new)

Lenita Sheridan | 104 comments I have a great time thinking up chapter titles. Some recent purchasers of my new book noticed that they were alliterative and that amused them.


message 6: by Alp (new)

Alp Mortal Having thought about it some more, I guess I do use the chapter title to kind of hook an idea on for safe-keeping ... I must admit, I have some fun thinking of the titles ...


message 7: by Kristi (new)

Kristi Cramer (kristicramer) | 84 comments I always appreciate them if they are clever and just informative enough to hook but not spoil.

I don't use them myself because I write romance and it is, I think, very uncommon in the genre. That and I'm not sure I could be consistently clever. :-(


message 8: by Philip (new)

Philip Dodd (philipdodd) | 13 comments I enjoyed making up titles for the chapters of my own book and I prefer books with chapter titles rather than just numbers. I have noticed that most novels for children, like Watership Down and the Harry Potter books, have chapter titles. Charles Dickens and Thomas Hardy used chapter titles, I remember. If you look at the Contents page of a novel and you see each chapter is just given a number, it does not look very inspiring or inviting. If each chapter has a title, however, it can make the novel seem more intriguing and worth reading. The longer the story, the better it would be with chapter titles, I think.


message 9: by E.G. (new)

E.G. Manetti (thornraven) Anne wrote: "I write fiction and, though it is customary to use only a number, I titled my chapters in my first book too and I'm doing the same in my second book. For me, because I work in MS Word and I leave t..."

I did the same thing, although use of titles in science-fiction/fantasy is not uncommon. With all the world-building, it can be a helpful device to give the reader some markers.


message 10: by Nico (new)

Nico Laeser (Nico_Laeser) | 1 comments I use Chapter titles. I insert them during my second draft, and if I can't name a chapter, then the whole chapter is removed or reworked because it lacks clear direction/mission.


message 11: by Edmond (new)

Edmond Gagnon (edmondgagnon) | 4 comments Some of my readers like my chapter titles and some don't care. The top sellers never use them any more and their chapters are sometimes only two pages long. For them I think it's all about pumping books out for mass marketing and to keep you mindlessly turning pages.


message 12: by Lenita (new)

Lenita Sheridan | 104 comments I don't agree. I've been reading a top selling author right now who uses chapter titles.


message 13: by Bobbi (new)

Bobbi JG Weiss (goodreadscombobbijgweiss) | 57 comments Interesting remarks. I've always believed (why, I don't know) that chapter titling was for children's books while books for adults shouldn't have titles. Where did I ever get that idea? Now I'm wondering if I shouldn't try them out on the YA trilogy I'm currently writing.


message 14: by Chris (new)

Chris Jags | 16 comments So long as the title of the chapter doesn't describe its contents, I have no preference.


message 15: by Lee (new)

Lee Dunning (maraich) | 56 comments I have a hard enough time coming up with a decent book title; there is no way I'm going to fight to come up with 20+ chapter titles. Numbers for me.


message 16: by Kevin (new)

Kevin Klehr (goodreadscomkevink) | 102 comments I prefer numbers too.


message 17: by Christine (new)

Christine Hayton (ccmhayton) According to accepted Style convention - naming chapters is normal when writing non-fiction and children's books. Styles for adult fiction has been numbers only.

As a reader, I have read a couple fiction books with chapter titles. Seemed odd, but I ignored them. I read one book with comments to separate parts of each chapter and found that quite annoying.


message 18: by Alp (new)

Alp Mortal I think I prefer titles to numbers - somehow a chapter with a title feels more engaging -


message 19: by Wayland (new)

Wayland Smith | 36 comments I vary by the story. Ones I have set in the Old West or older I tend to give titles to the chapters, modern ones I use numbers. I don't think there needs to be a hard and fast rule about it, do what works for your story.


message 20: by Johnny (new)

Johnny Walker (Ekko_Johnny) | 17 comments I use chapter titles in a themed type of layout, much like a musical album.

Since my books are in the world of music, I thought it would be fun to have a 'title cut' as well, so each book has a chapter title that matches the book title.

I can take them or leave them when reading, but have always found them to be fun.


message 21: by Cindy (new)

Cindy Hiday | 18 comments I think it depends on the story or genre. My three romances are just numbered chapters, but I had fun titling the chapters of the mainstream road story I published in December. It seemed to add to the drama and/or humor of each chapter.


message 22: by Rebecca (new)

Rebecca McCray (RebPai) | 32 comments I'm writing an epic sci-fi series and I use numbers. Even my beta readers said names wouldn't work.


message 23: by Christine (new)

Christine Hayton (ccmhayton) Wayland wrote: "...I don't think there needs to be a hard and fast rule about it, do what works for your story..."

You are correct, as long as authors are self-publishing. There are no rules to follow. They can do whatever they want.

If they intend to go for traditional publishing then the accepted rules (The Chicago Manual of Style), regarding numbered and title chapters, would apply.


message 24: by Wayland (new)

Wayland Smith | 36 comments Christine wrote: "Wayland wrote: "...I don't think there needs to be a hard and fast rule about it, do what works for your story..."

You are correct, as long as authors are self-publishing. There are no rules to fo..."


By that argument, among the books we wouldn't have are The Hobbit, The Shipping News, and all the Harry Potter books. Doesn't slapping an arbitrary rule on a creative process seem kind of narrow minded and silly?


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