Chapter Numbering & Titles...

-K2-

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Let me say right off (no offence intended, simply my preference), I really do not care for the chapters of a novel to be named 'Chapter 1, Chapter 2, Chapter 3, etc..' I have always given each chapter a title and right or wrong, I don't feel compelled to change that. However, in my ToC, I list them, '1. Blah Blah, 2. Yadda Yadda, 3. Zippity doo dah day.'

My question pertains to the chapter heading. In the past, I would always only add the title. IOW, 'Blah Blah.' I'm wondering if I should also add the chapter number?

Before any who care to answer do, if yes, I would not 'write' "Chapter 1, Blah Blah," yet would mimic a system used in the novel for something else (mapping). To that end, if you believe I should use a number, I might use something like, 'C-1: Blah Blah,' or perhaps (though I'm not sure I like it), 'G8-C-1: Blah Blah.' "G8" a series designator (the next novel will be G9).

Thoughts? Thanks for your input.

K2
 

Cathbad

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Sometimes I just use a number. Sometimes just a title. Other times, both.

So, yeah... I'm not much help, am I? :sneaky:
 

Brian G Turner

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I would have thought the reason for the simple numeric system was to help readers keep track of their progress. Using any form of code might confuse both the reader and attempts to communicate that. It's also in danger of being seen as "gimmicky" without adding anything.
 

Joshua Jones

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More power to you for naming all your chapters. I am trying to do that with my SF WiP, but I suck so badly at making titles for anything, I will probably scrap that idea.

I agree with @Brian G Turner here. You don't whatever you do to come across as a gimmick to sell more books or being different for the very sake of being different. Maybe if your novel is divided up into Book A, Book B, and so forth, I could see using A-1, B-1, and so forth to help readers know where they are. But, unless you do that, I would stick with either chaper 1 or titled chapters, as these are pretty much the standards...
 

The Bluestocking

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I use both number and title.

The number helps readers keep track and the chapter titles are fun to come up with... probably because I've had way too much practice writing snappy copy/headlines in my previous career in PR/marketing.

But seriously - chapter titles are a way of distilling it all down to a single phrase. It helps with keeping things in focus when I'm in the midst of the WiP.
 

Cathbad

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I use both number and title.

chapter titles are a way of distilling it all down to a single phrase. It helps with keeping things in focus when I'm in the midst of the WiP.
So agreed! When I want breaks (not necessarily 'chapters') in my shorter works, I use only numbers. Adding chapter titles to larger works keeps my focus within the confines of the chapter, as well as lets me see (from my list of chapters) exactly where I am in the story.
 

The Bluestocking

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So agreed! When I want breaks (not necessarily 'chapters') in my shorter works, I use only numbers. Adding chapter titles to larger works keeps my focus within the confines of the chapter, as well as lets me see (from my list of chapters) exactly where I am in the story.
Yup. For instance, the title of chapter 1 of my current WiP is "The Problem With Getting There".

And it literally is about the challenges my two characters face in getting to where they want to go.
 

-K2-

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Thanks everyone for your input. Regarding numbering the chapters, as I'm sure you gathered, "C-1: Blah Blah," simply stands for 'Chapter-1'. So, chapters would be C-1, C-2, C-3, etc., I don't think that is confusing, though maybe it is, one reason I seek your suggestions.

'G8' as in 'G8-C-1 Blah Blah,' would end up G8-C-1, G8-C-2, G8-C-3... Though it's likely easy enough to sort out, that one I'd not argue in that it's just a little too cute/tricky/pointless for no possible benefit except to confuse folks.

Regarding a chapter title, that's one aspect that I truly enjoy. That's where I can get very creative, sometimes revealing, insightful, other times ironic or sarcastic. More so, it is also the place where I can add my catchy little name or phrase to perk interest without diverting or confusing the story... Actually, those little titles are some of my favorite parts :D A few examples from this newest work being;

4. Habitual Cruelty
5. Retrospection Wheel
8. Misericorde
9. Harbinger of Rain
20. Hermes Staff
33. American Cathedral
39. Mop Boy
42. To Raze a Fallen Star
44. Bitter Sailing


Thanks everyone for your input!

K2
 

Scookey

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I tend to use very short chapters in my books so there are a lot and numbers are essential but always give them names too. For example, in Nuclear-Bursting Point:
1 Swarmbots
2 A Barn In Somerset
3 Field Meeting
4 Jake's Fate
5 Julia's Dad
6 COBRA
7 First Blood
8 Watchet Harbour


The books have over 100 chapters each so numbers are a vital part of them.
 

MemoryTale

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I love using chapter titles too, I like to think of them as telling a little story for whoever's reading the contents page.

Some of my early ones in my WIP are:

1) A normal day in Southside
3)Derek Lambert’s normal day
4)Gareth Morbul’s normal day


Then things take a definite turn for the strange and we get:

5) Another normal… Wait, what?
 

Scookey

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I have to admit to sort of being chapter mad. Not only do I give them numbers and titles but also seem to generate rather a lot of them. Between 100 and 120 in each book. Guess it's a style sort of thing. :D
 

Dan Jones

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I use number but I my in the draft file for my own navigational purposes to help me remember where things are.

I also like a good chapter title, but having said that in my last two books have been headed by the POV character's name plus "their" chapter number ie Dave I, Rob I, Dave II, Margot I, Dave III etc.

@K2 FWIW I think your chapter names are ace.
 

Phyrebrat

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Literally just put down MOW (Dan’s book) and came here to say ‘Dan does it this way...etc’ :D

My opinion is that I’ve read countless books with or without chapter names, numbers - or even chapters themselves.

Personally I prefer a number to a description just because I hate trying to match the title with the action - especially if the author comes across as trying to be too clever, conjuring cryptic names, etc. That reminds me of certain X-files episodes.

Having said that, I have 3 POV per era in my wip - and there are 4 eras - so each chapter will be headed the year date and the POV name.

Anyway, my final point is do what you want. It’s been done successfully a hundred other ways and will continue to do so throughout publishing history. ;)

pH
 

The Bluestocking

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I am currently very amused by the chapter titles that are appearing in my WiP:

Now working on a chapter named "Don't you just love bad ideas?"

And late last night, when I was dead tired, my brain suddenly decided to inform me that at some point later in the book, there will be a chapter titled "The Chicken Vendetta".
 

Susan Boulton

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It doesn't matter what you use, numbers, titles, or just a line/scene break. As long as it works for you and the reader. Different writers use different methods. To be honest it is just the trimmings, not the meat of your story, that is plot, character, and a strong idea.
 

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