Do You Name Your Chapters?

HareBrain

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I name them -- one member of my writing group seems to compliment the chapter titles more than anything else! I like coming up with a good one. I do notice them in others' writings and find they add to the reading experience if they're well-chosen (Tolkien is one of the best at this) but I don't care if they're absent.

I number them too (would seem weird otherwise) but leave out the word "chapter".
 

CupofJoe

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There are books of a certain age where in addition to the chapter title you get a summary of what the chapter is about. It adds a certain flair and also lets you know how long a chapter is likely to be...
 

Droflet

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I number chapters, of course, but don't name them. When I enter a new section of the story I might leave a quote that is relevant to what's coming next. Without giving any expectations. Hey, it works for me.
 

Edoc'sil

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While I'm only on chapter 5 of my first novel I have named all of them so far. Some are just placeholders until I think of something better though. Like harebrain, I enjoy trying to think of a title that hints at the story but doesn't spoil it. I always like books that do this, it encourages me to read on.
 

Laura R Hepworth

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Sometimes yes, sometimes no. Mostly no. I pants so, unless I come back and rename chapters once I've finished a book, naming them is largely going to be a waste of time as I don't plot things out in advance to know what happens in each chapter. I'm just about to start a new story that I'm going to be releasing one chapter at a time on Patreon, for that one though, I'm thinking I may name my chapters.

It all depends what you think works best for you and your book. When done well, chapter titles can really add to a story as they can add to the intrigue about what's going to happen and build anticipation. However, coming up with them can also really slow down your writing unless to choose to name them all after you've finished writing.
 

DLCroix

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Hi! I prefer to title the chapters, for several reasons:
1. Because each chapter is conceived as a story.
Regardless of whether the reader will read the entire novel, suppose he opens the book to p. 100. Then it will serve as an orientation of what you are going to read. The title of a chapter is already a catch phrase.
2. The title of the chapter as a summary of the concept that is explained in that chapter. For example: "The talisman", "The secret of the curse", etc.
3. The emotional factor. Especially in the final chapters. Isn't a chapter 11 or 12 called "The Battle" or "Forever Sarah" catching your attention?
 

Biskit

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It depends on what I'm writing.

In my urban fantasies, I've just gone with numbering, with "Chapter" in front, as supplied by my word processor. In "Streamrider" I gave the chapters titles, because although I was pantsing it, I had some sort of idea what each chapter was about and the title acted as a handy mnemonic, so "Chapter 1 Bluesky" is all about an introduction to the pseudo-world of Bluesky, next came "Hive" which introduced the Hive Queens and so on. Looking at it now, I see that many of my titles deliberately have multiple meanings, which is again about reminding me of what is going on.

In the current WIP, with multiple 1st POV narratives, the chapters are numbered sequentially and have the name of the narrator for the title.
 

JS Wiig

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Have you read Terry Pratchett “Going Postal”?

Each chapter has a title and lines out each plot beat for the chapter. I thought it was pretty neat!

Personally I would take it on a case-by-case basis depending on the story and what you’re looking to accomplish, rather than any set methodology.
 

Wayne Mack

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As a reader, I found the I couldn't really remember whether a book had numbered or named chapters (even the one I am currently reading). I also noticed that named chapters, even when the name essentially revealed the plot of the chapter, did not affect my reading enjoyment. I must be just glossing over the chapter name without really processing it.

My first novel attempt, I went with numbered chapters as I wrote it in spurts without any sort of planning. When I went into editing, I ended up creating a spreadsheet mapping chapter numbers to a short description and used that to organize the story. In my second attempt, I have laid out a sequence of one line summaries for each chapter in my spreadsheet, though I am still using chapter numbers in lieu of the text in the actual novel.
 

sknox

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I have tried not naming them, but I always return to names for my own convenience. When I'm looking at a list of chapters, something like "Chapter 17" doesn't tell me a thing. When I'm trying to get a sense of overall flow (which I lose often when in the depths of writing), being able to scan the list of chapters for meaningful information really does help.

Does it help the reader? Dunno. At that point, the book is done. The readers are on their own. <grin>
 

.matthew.

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Usually just chapter # for full-length books I never finish writing, but occasionally I'll name them for novellas.
 

Steve Harrison

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If I am using multiple POVs, more than 5 of them, I name the chapter with the POV character. Otherwise, it's just numbers.

But I do use temporary WIP chapter titles as editing references, such as,

CHAPTER 16
In which Blaney realises he is a time traveller and telling Karen his plan to rescue his men, recapture the convicts and get back to his own time must make him sound like a lunatic.
 

SashaMcallister

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I do numbers *and* titles. Numbers for practical purposes, and names because I find that it really helps build hype if done right.
 

Kerrybuchanan

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When I’m writing fantasy, I like to name chapters and maybe have a wee literary quote that fits each one as well. I’m currently writing crime, and naming chapters just doesn’t feel right somehow. As I write the first draft, I put the POV character’s name with each number (Chapter 32 Aaron) but my first editing pass is to check that I’ve made it clear in voice and text which POV I’m in, so I can delete the names and just have the numbers.
 

Dan Jones

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Up to now I've labelled chapter headings with the POV character's, and which chapter it is from their perspective ie Dave 1, John 1, Sue 1, Dave 2 etc.

On my WIP I've used the date as the chapter heading, and a very short, one-line synopsis of the chapter beneath it to set the scene.

I do like it when effort has gone into chapter headings, to provide just a smidgen of a clue of the mood or action in the next chunk of text. My daughter is reading David Walliams at the moment and he does excellent chapter headings - they whet her appetite just enough to keep her excited about what's coming next.
 

msstice

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There are books of a certain age where in addition to the chapter title you get a summary of what the chapter is about. It adds a certain flair and also lets you know how long a chapter is likely to be...
Three Men in a Boat (To say nothing of the dog) sets this tone right in the book title.
 

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