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Old 12-20-2012, 02:16 PM   #1
bmcox
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Chapter #s or Chapter Titles?

I am getting ready to release a novelette and I’ve broken it up into chapters. What I can’t decide is the less intrusive but more impersonal number better or is a titled chapter a more enriching reading experience?

Do you use numbers or titled chapters for your books? What have you found?
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Old 12-20-2012, 08:46 PM   #2
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The latter part of this thread: Playing Games with Chapters includes some discussion on this aspect.

My opinion: If the book didn't get written with chapter titles (if they weren't somehow a natural part of what you wrote) then I wouldn't go back and add them unless you really feel they do add something. If the titles an after-thought then that's why they'll probably look like, which is not what you want.
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Old 12-20-2012, 09:54 PM   #3
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For what it's worth (not a lot, I guess), as a tireless reader I seldom take any notice of chapter titles. I take so little notice in fact that I had read a lot of Discworld novels before realising there were no chapter titles or numbers at all.

For a novelette, if structural reasons really demand chapters, I would go with simple numbers. Preferably not Roman numbers.

In paper books, chapters, whether numbers or titled, are helpful to many readers who, like me, do not fold corners or place books face down when interrupted, but close them, and then later riffle through to find the place. They act as landmarks in what might otherwise be a featureless forest of text.
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Old 12-21-2012, 01:11 AM   #4
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Depends on the type of book for me. I almost expect them in childrens books. Not so much in adult books
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Old 12-21-2012, 10:23 AM   #5
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There are some specific stories where a chapter title makes sense. I have seen titles like "Day One" and the like used well. I have also seen many YA book use character names as titles so that the reader knows who the main character is in that chapter.

Other then that, I would say in general - just use numbers.
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Old 12-21-2012, 10:27 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by VydorScope View Post
Other then that, I would say in general - just use numbers.
My personal preference is for Roman numerals for chapter titles.
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Old 12-21-2012, 11:00 AM   #7
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I've always gone with chapter numbers. Somehow I've never really gotten into chapter titles, even less after reading the Get Fuzzy strip where Bucky was writing a book and had a chapter titled, "In which I scratch my butt."
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Old 12-21-2012, 01:03 PM   #8
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Thanks for your input, everyone.
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Old 12-21-2012, 01:15 PM   #9
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There are a few more alternatives I've seen used.

One is to name each chapter after the POV in that chapter. Useful in books with many POVs for an instant "set-up" in a character's head.

Another is to name each chapter after the location. This is obviously suitable if the action jumps between a limited number of locations (4-10) and it's a shortcut that instantly locates the action.

Finally, I've seen books where the chapter title contains the date or the day of week. This is used in "timelock" thrillers where the action is driven forward at a fast pace and the time is running out for whatever it is that should happen. In a few cases (with the whole action compressed in a few days) I've seen date and time used.
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Old 12-21-2012, 04:38 PM   #10
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As a writer, I started with chapter titles, but it's a lot of work. It's also distracting and limits posibilities for me. I now go with numbers. It's fast and easy. I don't think most of my readers notice the lack of titled chapters.
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Old 12-21-2012, 07:08 PM   #11
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I prefer chapter numbers.
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Old 12-21-2012, 07:22 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bmcox View Post
I am getting ready to release a novelette and I’ve broken it up into chapters. What I can’t decide is the less intrusive but more impersonal number better or is a titled chapter a more enriching reading experience?

Do you use numbers or titled chapters for your books? What have you found?
I think you answered your question when you said

Quote:
titled chapter a more enriching reading experience
They can be as important as the often neglected blurb. They can also organize your mind and your writing. If they seem hard to do, then perhaps you don't have a handle on your intentions for the chapter, though those intentions may change, and then of course so will the title.

For the most part, I consider them imperative.

Last edited by frahse; 12-21-2012 at 07:28 PM.
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Old 12-21-2012, 11:45 PM   #13
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For the most part, I consider them imperative.
You have said this before, and I respect your opinion, but I have to wonder what genera are you thinking of? I ask because it is rare that I see well established or independent authors using titles. But that is primarily fiction. In non-fiction I see more chapter titles then not.
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Old 12-22-2012, 12:46 AM   #14
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For what it is worth George MacDonald Fraser did not use chapter titles or chapter numbers in the many books in his Flashman series, nor a table of contents. He did start each chapter on a new page.
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Old 12-22-2012, 05:57 AM   #15
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For what it is worth George MacDonald Fraser did not use chapter titles or chapter numbers in the many books in his Flashman series, nor a table of contents. He did start each chapter on a new page.
Which presents the problem of how you "show" a new chapter when the previous one happens to end at the bottom of the previous page. (Sort of the reverse of the trying to avoid orphaned lines at the end of a chapter.)
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