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Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Chapter Titles

Many people think chapter titles are just for juvenile books, but that’s not true. Chapter titles are great for fantasy, science-fiction, and historical novels. If you want to use chapter titles in your book, you very well can! Remember: It’s your book; you can do what you want!

For the first and second books in my (unpublished) supernatural-thriller series, I came up with one-word chapter titles by reviewing what happened in each chapter and thinking of an adjective to match it. Although adjectives are descriptive, words like icy, magical, and chaotic (actual titles from my books) don’t reveal all that much. And even if one does hint at what might happen, like “explosive”, it might intrigue a reader to keep reading.


Other chapter title ideas you can use:

·         The name of a character (This works if you use multiple-perspectives.)

·         The name of places (If your characters are traveling.)

·         Dates (If you’re story hops from the past to the present or future.)

·         Names of mythical creatures, gods/goddesses, monsters, etc. (This is perfect for a fantasy/supernatural story where the presence of these beings is important to the plot.)

·         Scientific terms (If your characters are scientists, using a scientific term would be interesting –especially if that term comes into play in that chapter.)

·         Medical terms (This would work the same way as scientific terms if you’re writing a story about doctors, nurses, or even a patient.)

·         Verbs to show action. (Verbs are great for one-word titles and can spike a reader’s interest.)


SHARE: Your chapter title ideas. I’d love to add them to my list!


QUESTIONS:
Reader: Do you pay attention to chapter titles?
Writer: Have you ever used chapter titles?


56 comments:

  1. I've never used chapter titles in my own books but I've seen them in others. Good post, Chris.

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  2. I use them, sometimes I just make a play on words like one instead of evil within, I used evil with..out

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    1. A play on words for your rhyming stories would be perfect, Pat!

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  3. I love chapter titles! I always use a funny or interesting line from each chapter for mine. :D

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    1. I love chapter titles, too! I haven't used any recently, but did for my series and I had fun coming up with them. I like your idea, too!

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  4. I've never used them - just gone with chapter numbers.

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  5. I haven't used them, but I don't object to them. Sometimes, they are very helpful. In Shiver (by Maggie Stiefvater... have I mentioned this book or series before????), each chapter tells whose POV the story is written from and the temperature, which is significant. So, used wisely... very good idea.

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    1. I think you did mention Shiver in my post about two or more perspectives, Robin. :)

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  6. I love starting a chapter with a line of poetry (mine--of course) :-) I like the mood it sets

    Anna from Shout with Emaginette

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    1. I did something like that for my series, but the verse was from one of my song lyrics. :)

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  7. I don't think I've ever used chapter titles (except names for multiple POVs). I almost used them with my current WIP, mostly because I thought of a few really good ones, but then I decided it was silly.

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    1. It's definitely not silly if you like them. :)

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  8. Great advice, Chrys! I've been thinking about ways to do multiple narrative voices and if I ever chose this route, I would probably use "names" and "places" as titles, especially for epic fantasy.
    With my current WIP, I started out using titles but once I reached the middle of the story, I decided to not use them. I guess it depends on the author and the novel or idea he/she is trying to convey.

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    1. It certainly does depend on the author and their story. :) I said chapter titles in two books in my unpublished series, but haven't used chapter titles since then. Maybe I should change that... ;)

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  9. I always title chapters, since I'm old-fashioned that way. I view chapters as like short stories, miniature novels unto themselves, with a beginning, middle, and end, not just quick scenes lasting only a few pages each. I'm fond of taking chapter titles from song lyrics, literature, or film (e.g., "Union with a Snake," "Who Will Stand, Who Will Fall?," "Trading in His Shelter for Danger," "Heat Beneath His Winter," "Release from Misery," "The Wrong Prey in View"). I also like to title the Parts of a book, and similarly take those titles from literature, film, or music when I can.

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    1. Those are all wonderful chapter titles, Carrie-Anne, and I feel the same way about chapter titles as you do. :)

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  10. Interesting question. I only use chapter titles on my MG books. I haven't thought about using them on my YA. I'll have to think about whether or not I pay attention to those titles when I read books written by others.

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    1. I think chapter titles for YA is fun! :)

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  11. I've never used chapter titles, but I've read them. The ones I remember marked time in some way.

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    1. Dates/places are popular chapter titles. :)

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  12. Some of these ideas work for my novel WIPs. Thank you for sharing them, Chrys.

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  13. I enjoy chapter titles in books I've read. An example of fantastic chapter titles was in Kurt Vonnegut's Cat's Cradle.Sometimes they are like hints or puzzles to figure out the next part of the plot. Another inspiring post, chrys!

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    1. For a mystery, it's fun to create chapter titles that are hints or clues. :)

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  14. I agree with you. I do enjoy looking through the titles of books before deciding to read it or not.

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    1. :) Thanks for commenting, Lady Lilith!

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  15. I like chapter titles but none of my publishers ever wanted them. They always changed them to numbers.

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    1. Hmm...I guess publishers do have the last say. I'll have to see what happens when I try to publish a book with chapter titles.

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  16. I don't use chapter titles, but I wish I would. I love chapter titles of books that have them.

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    1. Maybe you should give it a try with your next WIP, Medeia. :)

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  17. Truthfully, I don't usually pay attention to chapter titles, unless they're dates I need to keep track of, or they list the name of the narrating character. Still, I always use them in my writing. Typically I've got a mix of your ideas--Enemy at the Gates, Deeper, Rally, From the Shadows, etc. I wonder how different my writing would be if I tried omitting them? Weird.

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    1. That is an interesting question. I like to think that chapter titles add something special to a story. :)

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  18. I use chapter titles in my novels. It helps me keep track of what happens where. Most of my chapter titles are one word, but occasionally it's two or three. The longest chapter title I've had so far is "Pain in the Assassin."

    Looking at Thanmir War's chapter titles, most are nouns. Occasionally there's an adjective or verb. Some people I read, like Diana Gabaldon, use full-length phrases. To each his own. :)

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    1. "Pain in the Assassin"...that's clever! I like that! Sounds like something Cera would say. ;)

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  19. The link won't work for me to read your Big C story.

    I really wish I would use chapter titles. I ALWAYS flip through the book and read the chapter names. If there aren't any, I'm a tad disappointed. This is a great post. I love your ideas on how to come up with them. I may try this. *waves*

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    1. I'm sorry about that, Robyn! I redid it and it works now.

      I do the same thing! Reading the chapter titles ahead always gets me excited to find out what happens in them. :)

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  20. I think chapter titles can be fun and I enjoy looking through a contents list of chapter headings before reading the book. It adds a frisson of intrigue as to what is ahead. As a writer, though, I've never considered them! I always struggle with the book title, so the idea of coming up with potentially dozens was always too daunting. I don't write in chapters, so they're quite an abstract concept for me anyway. I do like your ideas, though!

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    1. I feel the same way, Nick! Even though you don't write in chapters and wouldn't be able to come up with dozens of titles, I still like that you enjoy them as a reader. :)

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  21. Love these ideas for chapter titles. I never use chapter titles as a writer, but I do pay attention to them as a reader.

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    1. I'm glad you like my ideas, Christine. :)

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  22. There are times I pay attention to chapter titles, and find them well or cleverly done, and times I ignore them (though I would say that's probably when they don't mean anything to me.)

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    1. Sometimes they can be hit or miss. Thanks for commenting, Shannon!

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  23. How funny that I really enjoy chapter titles when I'm reading, but as a writer I don't use them. I really like these ideas!!!

    BTW, I'm enjoying seeing 30 Seconds around the blogosphere! Congrats :)

    S.K. Anthony

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    1. Many commenters have said the same thing, SK!

      Thank you, I am filling the blogosphere one blog (or two) at a time. ;)

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  24. I like chapter titles or at least numbers. Breaking the story up helps me as a reader to pace my reading. I also prefer chapters of 10 pages or less since I usually read in small time chunks and like to have convenient stopping points.

    All of your ideas are good ones for coming up with titles.

    Lee
    Tossing It Out

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    1. I also like chapters to run ten pages or less when I'm reading, but I might have written chapters a bit longer than that...with scene breaks though.

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  25. I have written chapter titles with my 1st and now my 3rd book. It was fun thinking up the title and most come from the Bible. I didn't think I needed permission from the Big Guy for that....

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    1. Biblical chapter titles? I like that!

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  26. For Into the Fire I had to use the character name at the start of each chapter because it's dual POV. I've never named my chapters otherwise, but I love books that do.

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    1. Using character names for multiple perspectives is always a good idea. :)

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  27. I write chapter books for kids, so I have to get really creative with chapter titles. I try to pick something quirky and humorous. Sometimes they end up being complete sentences, like, "We Got Flushed Down a Hole."

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    1. Writing a book for kids and picking out chapter titles would be fun! And I love that sentence for a kid's chapter book title!

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  28. I'm so thankful that my genre (thrillers) doesn't use chapter titles because I always draw a blank when it comes to that... I just published a short, though, and I had to come up with titles for that one... thanks for the tips, Chrys!

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    1. I created chapter titles for two of my thrillers. Admittedly they are also (loosely) in the supernatural category or published, so maybe when I get an agent/editor they will tell me to take them out. Although, I hope not because I love them! :)

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