The Case for Chapter Titles

Hi, Folks! It’s Marcia again, and today, I’d like to talk about something that’s been on my mind for a long time. Chapter Titles.

I’ve been reading for over 70 years. That’s a lot of pages turned. A. Lot. And along the way, I’ve made a few observations, to wit:

  • Some writers are better than others.
  • Some books speak to me and some don’t.
  • Some stories have taught me important lessons on life and love.
  • And some characters will live in my heart forever.

But to this day, I’m still looking for the answer to this: why on earth do so many writers choose not to name the chapters in their books? It’s a puzzler to me.  As far back as Dickens and earlier, some writers did and some didn’t. The same thing is true today.

Heads up. I’m on a roll, now.

This lack of chapter titles has been a concern of mine for many, many years, but I’ve read several posts in recent weeks indicating I’m not alone in my thoughts on the issue, so I decided to join their ranks and get vocal.  Yes! I am an unabashed advocate for chapter titles, and my three main reasons are these:

  • They attract readers.
  • They provide reference points
  • They offer authors a place to display wit and creativity at a glance.

Let’s Take a Closer Look, Shall We?

ATTRACTING READERS


PICTURE THIS: An intriguing, dramatic, or humorous chapter title is almost irresistible to many readers. When book shoppers flip open your book, if the first thing they see is a chapter title they are immediately drawn to, they are not nearly as likely to put the book back on the shelf. Ka-ching!



THEN IMAGINE: It’s late at night. Your reader is drowsy and about to close his new book and turn out the lights when his eye falls upon the title of the next chapter. It’s a dilly, and he’s immediately compelled to read a bit more. Yay, you!

 

 

INESCAPABLE CONCLUSION: This reader attraction thing works just as well from the First Chapter (or even the Prologue) as it does in mid-read. It’s both a sales tool, and a tool that can generate continuing interest in your story line.

***

PROVIDING REFERENCE POINTS

PICTURE THIS: Your reader has just finished reading your book which contained a wildly romantic scene they’d like to read again. Or a beautifully worded description of Planet Xanadu they want to take another look at. Or a witty line they’d love to quote.

THEN IMAGINE: Your reader has 40 chapters to choose from, and no idea where to find the bit they want. It might have been somewhere between Chapter 10 and Chapter 20, but that still leaves them with a ton of frustrating flipping back and forth, and there’s a good chance they’ll give up without finding what they were looking for.

 

INESCAPABLE CONCLUSION: Chapter titles make excellent reference points. A reader can almost always remember what was going on in the scene they want to double check, but pinpointing that scene without the help of a chapter title is often next to impossible. 

***

DISPLAYING WIT AND CREATIVITY

PICTURE THIS: Your reader has just purchased your latest book. Upon opening the very first page, he finds chapter titles akin to these: 

CHAPTER 1
The Old Sea-Dog at the Admiral Benbow
CHAPTER 2
Black Dog Appears and Disappears 

IMAGINE THIS: Without having read a single page of your story, your reader is already hooked. The example above obviously deals with life at sea, sailors, and a spooky sounding creature. If that’s his cup of tea, he’s excited about reading on. The descriptive titles show the creativity of the author at a glance. 

 

AND THEN PICTURE THIS: Another reader has flipped to the Table of Contents in your book and found chapter titles as brilliant and offbeat as these:

CHAPTER 1
In Which a Scientist Visits Hell and a Deal is Struck
CHAPTER 5
In Which Cabal Plays with Dolls and Horst Broadens His Vocabulary

 

 

JUST THINK: Your reader, like me, is likely to be instantly impressed with the level of subtle humor in these sorts of titles, and would definitely want to read the chapters that inspired them.

 

INESCAPABLE CONCLUSIONS: Chapter titles offer an unparalleled opportunity for creative ways to hook your reader at a glance, via hinting at the type of story ahead. They can be informative, spooky, mysterious, and/or humorous, and any or all of the above can pull a reader in deeper and deeper.


By the way, the first example is from Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island, written in 1881, and the second is from Jonathan L. Howard’s Johannes Cabal the Necromancer, published in 2009. (A wonderfully creepy and often hilarious little series,  IMHO.)


In Short

Chapter titles attract readers, provide road maps to reference points, and give you a fabulous chance to showcase your creativity and humor, so why on earth not use them?

I’ve heard some say most people don’t read them. I don’t know that the word “most” is accurate, but even if it is, so what? Those who don’t care for chapter titles certainly won’t reject a book just because it has them. They’ll simply skip over them, and read on. So, this argument seems specious, at best, kind of like saying why bother to number pages, since most readers don’t really notice.

CONSIDER THIS INSTEAD: Why not let those who aren’t interested skip directly to the first paragraph, and let those who are, enjoy your chapter titles–and your wonderful creativity–to their heart’s content?

I can guarantee those who love chapter titles for all of the reasons above will read them. I know this for a fact because I do—and because every time I meet a new group of readers, several compliment me on mine, often telling me how refreshing it is to find them in each book.

For those who think they’d like to give chapter titles a try.

This is much easier to do than you might imagine and doesn’t necessarily eat up a lot of time. For myself, I usually write my chapter, then scan through it in search of a line or phrase that sums it up for me. My last Wake-Robin Ridge book had chapters entitled things like “From Swamp Gas to Ball Lightning” and “I Want Witnesses Nearby.” Figuring out what to use is FUN. Honest!

In my Emissary novellas, I find song titles that fit the theme of each chapter as closely as possible. Even more fun! And readers have gone out of their way to tell me how much they enjoyed each one. For the record, you can’t quote song lyrics without permission, but you can use song titles all day long, such as:

CHAPTER 2
“Don’t Fear the Reaper”
Blue Oyster Cult

CHAPTER 12
“Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door”
Eric Clapton


I hope you’ll give some serious consideration to adding chapter titles to your next book. Some readers won’t notice, but many will thank you and will be intrigued or entertained by them, as well. And I figure if it was a good idea for Charles Dickens, Herman Melville, Robin Hobb, Sebastian de Castell, Simon R. Green, Faith Hunter, Leigh Bardugo, and so many more from every era, it’s likely a good idea for me, too!  😊

Hope you’ll take a few minutes to let us know your thoughts. Are you in the habit of using chapter titles? If not, did this pique your interest in the idea? As always, inquiring minds wanna know.

I’ll be back before long with my May edition of #WhyWriteWrong? but in the meantime, there’ll be plenty more great posts popping up here every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. Thanks for stopping by to check out mine today. Now go forth, and write with a happy heart, and hopefully, some entertaining chapter titles, too!

(All images above were created by me or obtained from Pixabay.) 

74 thoughts on “The Case for Chapter Titles

  1. Pingback: That’s a wrap! May 2020 – Rebecca Alasdair

  2. Reblogged this on Archer's Aim and commented:

    This is a delightful discussion about the merits of chapter titles. I must admit that I’ve been hesitant to use these as I feel I might give away too much to the reader. However, I am using them in my current WIP and these points are excellent considerations, especially for an ebook format and added power to searches. At the same time, ebooks are very searchable so chapters may not add that much on such a point. Otherwise, i don’t disagree with much written in this post Marcia Meara. Read it over on Story Empire…

    Liked by 1 person

    • So glad you enjoyed this topic and discussion, P. H. I’ve been happily surprised by how many people have weighed in on the “pro” side of using chapter titles, or are at least considering the idea. While I know this is a personal decision for each author, for myself, I can see no downside to using them at all, and lots of potential for benefits. I’m glad to know you are already using them in your current WIP! Welcome to the Team! 😀

      And thanks so much for sharing on your blog, as well! I answered over there, too. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I hadn’t given the topic much thought until I read this article and you make a persuasive case for the use of chapter headings. My WIP is non-fiction and I’m using headings for that one. The other novels in my head might benefit from them, too. The responses here make for fascinating reading! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Glad it has given you some food for thought, Trish! Not everyone will decide to use chapter titles, but I hope a few will give them a try. I don’t think you have a thing to lose, but there’s the potential to make a lot of readers very happy, so why not? And it has been encouraging to see how many folks either already agree with my love of chapter titles, or are at least looking at them differently. Thanks so much for stopping by and taking the time to comment! 🙂 ❤

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  4. I hadn’t given this much thought, but yes, without a doubt, I simply adore chapter titles. They may be witty, they may give you a little bit of a peek on what is about to go down or throw you completely off with their puzzling wording.
    It’s been a long time since I properly dedicated myself to writing fiction, but I always used chapter titles. Maybe it is related to seeing it a lot in the books I chose to read at the time, but it just felt right?
    Anyway, loved reading your post, I need to come by more often.

    Team chapter title!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Wooohoooo. Another one for the team! Thanks, Alexa, for taking the time to comment on this one. We Chapter Title Lovers are in the minority, I suspect, but for myself (and I can only speak for me), if I can please another group of readers by something so simple as this, I’m gonna do it. Besides, as I said throughout this post and discussion, it’s fun. And I love to read books that have witty, funny, or intriguing chapter titles, so I figure I’ve got nothing to lose by using them, and lots to gain.

      And yes, please do stop by more often. Between the seven of us, there’s always something good being discussed and new things to learn. In the meantime, welcome to the team! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

      • Thank you for such warm words Marcia!
        Only recently did I found out that reading isn’t as lonely an hobby as I initially thought. It’s so good to see there is a big community of book lovers.
        Agreed, the ones who don’t care for chapter titles won’t notice them and we will love seeing them.
        Ahah! Thank you!

        Liked by 1 person

      • You are very welcome, Alexa! So nice to meet you. And yes, there is a huge community of book lovers and authors online, and discussing books and writing is a constant thing. Hope you’ll enjoy exploring some of our blogs. You can learn more about the Story Empire authors under the “Authors” drop-down arrow in the header bar at the top of the page. We each have our own separate blogs, in addition to being part of Story Empire, so check us out. 😀 Happy Exploration! 😀

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  5. Lol, I actually use chapter titles for reference – for me, the author!
    If I need to find something, especially in a previous book, or even in a large book I’m currently writing (‘epic’ fantasy for me also relates to novel size, as well as content), chapter headings make it SO much simpler to scan and find what I want quickly.
    I start off just bookmarking with a title relevant to the contents of that individual chapter, and then go back at the editing stage to see if I can come up with something that doesn’t give away too much, yet acts as a bit of a teaser.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Perfect plan, Debby! And I love that you use Chapter titles as reference points even for you, the author! 😀 I remember enjoying your titles as I was reading The Prince’s Man and The Prince’s Son. When used well, they never fail to double my pleasure in any book! And you are so right about being able to find what you want. 😀 Thanks so much for stopping by today and for taking the time to comment. You are now an official member of the Team! 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Hi, Marcia! You bring up a subject that I’ve never given a lot of thought to, but your case is solid for chapter titles! In my second book, “The Convict and the Rose,” I had one line hooks taken from poems that described the chapter, but I didn’t make them the chapter title. Thank you for giving me some food for thought!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi, Jan! I love the poetry idea, though you have to be careful of copyrights if they are contemporary works. But poetry is a lovely way to introduce a chapter, whether it’s the title or not. I’m glad I’ve got you thinking about Chapter Titles and if they would work for you. I can guarantee, a lot of readers do love them, for sure. Others will ignore them. But they are fun and give you an opportunity to stretch your creativity a bit.

      Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment! 🙂

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  7. I’m one of those who never reads chapter titles, even if they are there. My eyes just skip right over it, probably because I don’t want a hint of what is to come. Lol! I’ve never used chapter titles, but I have a WIP in the editing stage right now, so maybe I’ll give it a go. 😉

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hi, Yvette! I’m one of those who reads every single word the author has included in the book, right down to the Author’s Notes, which I often find incredibly interesting. (A topic for another post.) But you certainly aren’t alone in skipping chapter titles. Many folks do, though I think it’s a shame. Some of them are truly delightful, and they can be good sales tools, too. Glad to know you’re thinking about it, but the final decision has to be what feels right to you, of course. Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I use chapter titles, Marcia. I never really thought about it, I just always did that. I thought all books had chapter titles but maybe they don’t and I just didn’t notice it. I know that Stephen King used chapter titles in the books of his I have read.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Glad to know you use them, Robbie. I think they are a great enhancement, but of course, it’s totally the author’s choice. I think it’s always been that way, and I suspect there are more books without them than with them, though many writers do still use them. Happy to know you are one of them. 😀 Thanks for taking the time to stop by and comment. I’m enjoying seeing how many folks have joined Team Chapter Title. (Urk. Our team needs a new title. Hahaha.)

      Liked by 1 person

  9. When I was younger I consistently used chapter titles. I think I stopped because they seemed to go out of fashion, then I never got in the habit again. I do, however, LOVE chapter titles. If a book has them, I read them. I scan the table of contents and check out titles. They intrigue me and make me want to know more. Your chapter titles are always a delight, and something I look forward to every time I open one of your books. Chapter titles rock!!

    I’m not sure if I will attempt them moving ahead in my own work, but I definitely love them when I discover them in other books. They’re like a wonderful little surprise tucked inside. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    • So glad to hear you enjoy chapter titles, Mae, and especially pleased to hear you like mine. Nope, they have never really gone out of style, and have always been simply a matter of choice for writers. As I say, throughout time, they’ve been used by some and not by others. It is, as is all writing, a matter of author preference. But from a reader’s standpoint, I think it can only enhance your work, especially if they are creative, amusing, or intriguing. I’d LOVE to see you use them in the future, but that’s a decision only you can make. Just know that your readers who don’t care for them will skip them and read on, and your readers who love them will devour them, and read on. Either way, you won’t lose readers over them, but you would be adding an entertaining feature that will make some of them very happy.

      The other thing to consider is how much fun it is to come up with clever ones. It’s truly one of my favorite things to do. I love it so much, I name each of my chapters as soon as I’ve written the draft, even before it goes to my beta readers. 😀

      Thanks so much for stopping by today, Mae, and I’ll be crossing my fingers that you try chapter titles again, somewhere along the line. 🙂 ❤

      Liked by 1 person

    • This! Mae said it perfectly. I LOVE chapter titles but I don’t use them in my own works (primarily because I thought they were like prologues and epilogues – old-fashioned and taboo these days). You’ve given me some interesting things to ponder Marcia 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

      • Yeah, I read that about prologues and epilogues, too, but I happen to love both. And many, if not most of my favorite writers today use epilogues regularly. I use both, but soften my prologues by not calling them that. I usually start them with a Date or Date/Location that looks more like a journal entry or the like. And I mostly keep them on the short side. They are the first action scenes of my books, and usually set up a specific plot line of my story, if not the entire tale. Anyone who skips my “prologues” would have trouble understanding some of what follows. I leave the epilogues as a way to tie up those loose ends and set up the next book. That’s how I see them done most often,and that’s what I prefer as a reader. So, what can I say? I use chapter titles, prologues (whether called that or not), and epilogues because I enjoy them when reading the work of others, including current works. With the chapter titles, though, they can really be a clever attention grabber, and I love that, as much as anything else. Plus I purely HATE trying to find something I want to go back to. It’s so much easier with chapter titles.

        Hope you’ll ponder the idea going forward, Jessica. I can only tell you I get a LOT of good feedback about them. 😀 Thanks for stopping by today and taking a minute to comment! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • I used to use prologues and epilogues religiously, because the books I favoured (mostly fantasy) ALL had them. Then, when I started researching writing for my WIP and found they were now considered taboo, I was pretty cut. I’m pretty sure when I write my next trilogy which is pure fantasy, I’ll go back to them AND chapter titles. You’ve scored a convert my dear!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Yay! Glad to know you’re a convert, now!

        One thing I’ve learned in my long life: all things come around again. What was old is suddenly new. So whether these three things were really out of style, or whether some folks gave up on them (especially the chapter titles) because they didn’t think folks really read them, it’s still all about the author and how they choose to tell their tale.

        I think Prologues got a lot of bad press because they were so often used as major info dumps to get all the back story in place right off the bat. And I agree that’s almost always a bad idea. Back story should probably be parceled out here and there, as needed, instead. As for Epilogues, I’m not sure they ever went away. Most books I read still have them. But as I say, you can easily employ a prologue to pull people into your book by simply giving it a date or time, and keeping it short and compelling. In my last book, I made it a scene with an unknown person disposing of a body by tossing it over the stone parapet at an overlook along the Blue Ridge Parkway. It was only a page and a half or so, but it set readers up by letting them know that this was the mystery that underpinned the rest of the book.

        These are only MY personal opinions, of course, but I think that type of prologue works very, very well, especially if your book is focused on other people who, at the beginning, know nothing about this crime. And I think the principle could work in almost any genre, even if there wasn’t a mystery involved.

        As for those chapter titles, you already know how creative and enjoyable I find them, so I’ll be looking forward to seeing what you do with them! And welcome to the Team!! (Ahem. My work here is done!) 😀

        Liked by 1 person

  10. Thanks for sharing! I write children’s fantasy adventure novels and I love coming up with fun, off-the-wall chapter titles or ones that will hook a young reader, such as “(insert character name) Falls into a Bit of Trouble” or “The (insert magical creature here) Escapes/ Returns” or allusions to other books in the genre with a twist (“Out of the Rabbit Hole”).

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s great to know, Melissa. And children’s books are a natural for chapter titles, for sure. I’d just love to see more writers using them in “adult” novels, as well. It’s so frustrating when you can’t find what you wanted to refer back to, plus it’s just plain fun to read them. (All the stuff I mentioned above. 😀 ) Thanks so much for stopping by and letting us know how you use them. And I’ll bet your readers enjoy them, too! 🙂

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  11. I don’t believe that every book needs or should have chapter titles. Some of mine do and others don’t. For me, the story I’m crafting dictates whether or not I think titling each chapter is beneficial. Also the genre is a consideration. Great post, Marcia … I can tell you’re passionate about this particular topic 😊

    Liked by 3 people

    • For me, it’s not a question of whether it needs them so much as a question of if it will make many readers happy to have them. From what I hear, there are a lot of folks who prefer them, and since those who don’t will ignore them, I can’t see any reason not to use them, no matter the genre. But I do understand that not all writers feel the same, and that’s fine. After all, we are each as unique as our stories are. But for those who’ve never given it any consideration, there are a lot of reasons to include them, and that’s what I wanted to show. If for no other reasons than to make it easier for readers to locate what they’re looking for, I’d do it. But I absolutely enjoy them when I’m reading, and I also enjoy creating them. And now that I’ve found out how many others agree with me, I’m officially on the bandwagon. 😀 I might accept that it’s not something everyone’s going to do, but I’ll still be cheering on those who, like myself, find them creative, fun, and pleasing to many of their readers. 😀 Thanks for taking the time to weigh in on this one, Harmony! 🙂

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  12. Huh, looks like I’m the odd duck once more. In The Playground, I used some and didn’t use some. This involves the stories of three different characters that merged at the end of the book. When I switched characters, then I used their name for a kind of chapter title. The Hat series probably could have used them well, but I’m not going to start over and republish just to get them in. That’s a missed opportunity to make them even cornier than they already are. Good topic today.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I don’t think you’re the Odd Duck at all. I mean, there’s nothing particularly duck-like about you that I’ve noticed, anyway. 😀 As for odd, isn’t that part of what makes us writers?

      Seriously, it looks like it’s shaking out closer to a toss-up than I thought it would be, with some writers using them, and some not. But I certainly wouldn’t suggest republishing anything to add them. It’s more something to consider going forward, and a most excellent chance to demonstrate your creativity. (Though with your fantastic imagination, you demonstrate that in every book.) But chapter titles can be fun, informative, and very appealing to those who enjoy them. (Like me.) And they certainly won’t scare off those who don’t read them, so my thoughts are, why not? Names work as chapter titles, too, but I’d love to see some of your creativity in use going forward, with some really cool ones. And since many readers enjoy them just as much as I do, I hope you’ll give it a go.

      Thanks for stopping by today and taking time to comment, Craig. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      • Hmmm. Good questitons, and I’m no expert, but I think it might be doable. Or if your story can be divided into Part 1 and Part 2, etc, I’ve seen those named and the chapters not. I’ve also seen variations in chapter names in some books. A phrase for one, and a person’s name or location for another, for instance. Could be fun to experiment! 😀

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      • Not to worry. That happens to me, too, so I always scan over the whole list to be sure I don’t miss any comments that end up in another place. I found you in both spots! 😀

        Liked by 1 person

    • You’re welcome, Cathy. I know how disappointed I was to find that out in my first book. I had my hero (thinking he was all alone) reverting to his teen years and playing air guitar while singing “Money for Nothing,” then getting caught in the “act.” The lyrics were perfect for what I wanted to do, but I found out just in time that I couldn’t use them without permission, so I switched to the title, and then did some paraphrasing instead. I try to keep that rule in mind now. 😀

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  13. Pingback: The Case for Chapter Titles #StoryEmpire | The Write Stuff

  14. I agree with every reason you listed. However, I don’t use them. Why? Also three reasons:
    1. I am not good at titling novels, so needing a title for each segment of the novel would drive me to drink.
    2. I never read chapter titles when I read a book, so I don’t give them a second thought when I write.
    3. I actively avoid doing anything similar to Herman Melville.
    Okay. That last one isn’t a reason so much as it’s a commentary on how much I hated Moby Dick. Still, as much as I see reasons to title chapters, I suspect I never will. Then again, maybe I’ll take that as a challenge. If I could write a story in second person (also a challenge once given to me), then I could probably write one with chapter titles. Can’t promise they’d be any good, though.

    Great post, Marcia.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Staci. Right off the bat, let me assure you I did NOT like Moby Dick, either, and I would have disliked it just as much without chapter titles. I used Melville merely as reference to the fact that authors have always used them or not used them, as they saw fit. As to your other objections, the second one doesn’t matter a bit, really, since it isn’t about whether or not you read them, yourself, but about whether or not there are others out there who would dearly love to have them. Some writers just use the name of the character that’s featured in each chapter. Or the location. Or the date and time. They don’t have to be complicated to help folks find their way back to what they were reading when they lost their place.

      And as for finding the titles, themselves, as I said, I just scan through my chapter and choose a line or phrase that I think fits. It takes me less than five minutes, and I almost never go back and change them. So far, it seems to be making my readers very happy, so I’m even more convinced it’s a good thing to do. I’m lucky to have the opportunity to talk to readers in person at least twice a month, and their feedback is super helpful. Some have said they don’t read the titles in any books, but far more often, I’m told how much they appreciate them. For me, that’s enough right there to know I’ll always use them. I won’t LOSE any readers because of them, and if I can make other readers happier, I’m all for it.

      Hope you’ll at least give it some thought as you go forward, though I know not everyone will start using them. And I’m glad to hear your thoughts on the matter either way. I don’t think chapter titles (or the lack of them) will impact sales greatly (read: at all) but I do think it will make some readers smile, especially if you have some funny or entertaining ones. But either way, it’s a creative choice, and we are each different in how we approach that, for sure. Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to share your thoughts on this one. 🙂 (We could call it “Staci Speak Out on Chapter Titles and Moby Dick.” 😀 😀 😀 )

      Liked by 1 person

      • I was joking about Melville. Well, not my dislike for him, but using him as a reason was just a small attempt at levity. (Apparently, very small.)

        I agree, there’s no downside to using them and there are benefits. Well, maybe one downside. If, like me, titling is difficult for a writer, having bad chapter titles could make someone scan them and think, “Not interested. Sounds boring.” But not being a chapter title reader myself, that wouldn’t be me.

        I do know this. I’ve never had someone say to me, “Gee, Staci. I was going to read your series, but none of your novels has chapter titles, so I didn’t bother.”

        Long story short, for people good at titling, chapter titles are a great opportunity to play around, have some fun, and further entertain and entice a reader. For those of us who suck at titling (namely myself), it might be a detriment and would definitely be a time suck. I think I’m content to read your chapter titles while still sticking with the boring old 1, 2, 3… for my work. Fingers crossed it doesn’t turn anyone off.

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      • I knew you were joking about Melville, Staci, don’t worry. It was a good joke. But I couldn’t help but agree. I read it in high school, along with MANY classics, and I just didn’t like it, even though it has one of the most memorable opening lines in history. 😀

        And you are absolutely right. Just as no one would NOT read a book because it had chapter titles, neither would they turn down one that didn’t. It’s just a matter of preference for the author, and to my mind, a chance to make some readers smile. (Plus help give them those points of reference.) It isn’t for everyone, but if I can encourage a few more people to consider the option, I’ll be happy. It’s also nice to see that I’m not the only one who loves them and uses them. That makes me very happy. 🙂

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  15. I can answer this for myself. Some of my books have had chapters titles. Others have not. Those that did were written with each chapter having a specific theme that allowed for a title. For example, one story had a different monster in each chapter, so that worked as a name. My non-chapter title books weren’t as clear cut. A chapter might follow two groups that are split or being character development for multiple heroes. A chapter title would end up referring to only one thing and ignore the other. So, it never felt right or natural for me to do it with those stories.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for the input, Charles. I can see that it’s easy to think of a title when each chapter has a separate theme, but you might consider one of my tricks for quick and helpful way to title chapters that don’t have themes. I just scan the chapter when I’ve finished it and pick out a phrase that seems like a good fit or sums up what the chapter is mostly about. Sometimes it’s a catchy line of dialogue that feels right, and sometimes it’s a bit of descriptive narrative. Either way, I believe it makes a good point of reference for anyone wanting to go back to a certain scene. Just a thought.

      I do realize that even with three very valid points for my “case,” not everyone will immediately begin using chapter titles in their work, but I hope it’s at least started them thinking about possibilities. Thanks so much for stopping by and taking the time to comment today! 🙂

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      • I’ve tried that and it’s been inconsistent. The best lines I write are ones that hit within context or surprise. As a title, they’re either weird or they take from the actual use within the story. Honestly, most of the books I’ve read haven’t had chapter titles. So, I guess I see them more as an optional cosmetic. My exposure and experience is definitely different.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Charles, I’d agree that they are optional for sure. I do think they can be more than merely cosmetic, but they definitely won’t make or break a good book. If they don’t work for you, that’s fine, too. It’s nice to know you did give them a try here and there, though. Maybe someday you’ll be working on a project that’s more chapter title friendly! 😀 In the meantime, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. 😀

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      • Jeanne, I think it’s something that you have to feel adds to your work, and if it doesn’t then, that’s that. As the author, it’s always your call. I’m sold on them, but so far, I think they’ve been a plus with my books. Someday I might write something where I wouldn’t want to use them. Maybe. Possibly. (Probably not.) 😀 😀 😀 It’s good to know that you used them with one where you feel they worked well, though. Thanks for stopping by and taking the time to comment!! 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  16. Funny but I never pay attention to chapter titles and have never considered using them. Unless it’s a book of short stories, with each “chapter” a new story, I doubt I ever will. I prefer to grab readers with a cliffhanger at the end of each chapter. However, I title each scene when I’m writing in Scrivener. It’s for reference only and makes it easier to refer back to a particular section.

    I do have one pet peeve about eBooks and that is when the chapters don’t include links. No matter if your Kindle or other e-reader syncs, sometimes it doesn’t get it right. If I know I last read chapter thirty and suddenly find myself on chapter two, I want to click the link to get back quickly to where I was without having to scroll through a hundred pages. But that’s just me.

    And by the way, I like the songs you chose for titles.

    Liked by 2 people

    • You may not pay any attention to them in books you read, but would you really NOT read a book that did have them? Pretty sure they wouldn’t stop you, since I know you’ve read a couple of mine, and I’ve never written a book without them. And that’s one of my main reasons for using them. Readers who don’t want to read them will skip them, while those who love them will have one more thing about your book to enjoy. Just sayin’ … 😀

      I do understand that not everyone will suddenly start using them going forward, but I definitely believe you are missing a chance to please a whole bunch of readers, without alienating those who aren’t interested. Plus, once you start using them, it can become a fun part of the process. I hope you’ll continue to think about it, going forward, but if not, that’s your own creative choice, and I promise, I’ll read your books either way. 😀

      On the eBooks thing, I know what you mean, and I’m sad to say that on a couple of mine, I cannot get the links to work, no matter what I do. I’ve redone them step by step several times, and they still don’t work. Where on other books I’ve written, they worked fine from day one. I’m planning to tackle that issue and one or two others over this summer and see if I can get it sorted out, especially since I want to offer a boxed set of Books 1 through 3 in each of my series soon. I definitely want it corrected before then. It IS annoying in the extreme. But for me, so is a whole list of Chapter Numbers with no reference to where in the story they are. I end up having to click chapters at random, hoping I’ll land on the one I’m seeking.

      Thanks for your feedback, Joan. I do hope you’ll keep the idea in your mind for POSSIBLE consideration someday. You’ll make a lot of readers smile. 😀

      Liked by 1 person

      • PS, I’m also glad you enjoyed the song title chapters from The Emissary. That has been hands down the MOST fun of all. I’m continuing it in TE3, too, and loving it. Talk about fun research! 😀

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      • I’ve never had a reader complain so I doubt I’ll ever title my chapters. Unless I wrote children’s books, which I have no desire to do.

        Different strokes for different folks. 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

      • No, it’s not the sort of thing readers complain about, especially if they aren’t into chapter titles anyway. And it is, as I say, strictly a personal preference for each author. There’s no right or wrong way about this, but rather what works for each of us as writers. My goal with the post was simply to put the subject out there for consideration, and explain why I believe it’s a good thing. I believe it is with all my heart, but I also know it’s not going to be something every writer decides to start doing.

        I do think it’s a good conversation to have, though, and I’m happily surprised at how many folks are in favor of, or at least not opposed to, the idea. That’s the whole point of the post.

        If it doesn’t work for you, that’s fine, too. In no way do I mean to be critical of those who don’t use them, even if I suspect they could be missing a great creative opportunity. As I say, it sure won’t keep me (or anyone else) from reading your books. Case in point, Jim Butcher’s The Dresden Files, one of my favorite series of all time, does not have chapter titles. I wish it did. Butcher could come up with some doozies, I’m sure. But I’ve read fifteen of these books to date, and am counting the days for #16, too. 😀 So I absolutely believe you should do your thing the way you prefer. It’s ALL good. 🙂

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  17. I think chapter titles are a necessity as well, especially for ebooks. I love my old Kindle but sometimes it goes a little haywire and suddenly I have no idea where in the story I’m meant to be. This is annoying in a paper book; it’s infuriating on an ereader because you can’t just fan through the pages until you find the right spot. You have to page advance without knowing how far back [or forward] you should be. With chapter titles you at least have some reference point.
    Imho, chapter titles in ebooks are an absolute necessity.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m happy I’m not the only one who wouldn’t consider NOT entitling a chapter. 🙂 And using chapter titles for a reference point works beautifully in every kind of book. (Sorry for the problems with your older Kindle. I haven’t upgraded mine in a long time, either, because I like the Voyage model so much.) But print or ebook, the reference point issue is a valid one, and I can tell you from having the lovely opportunity to talk to readers twice a month on average, they love them, too. Chapter titles RULE! 😉 Thanks for stopping by today, and for loving those titles! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

    • I’m glad I’ve got you thinking, Denise. Trust me, many, many adults love the addition of Chapter Titles. They are entertaining and that bit about them being a reference point is my favorite thing about using them. It’s often very difficult to find a passage you want to re-read, and those titles help point the way. Plus, they are just so much fun, whether they are meant to be amusing, creepy, or appealing. I happen to be able to get feedback from readers face to face two times a month or so, which helps me see even more clearly how much they enjoy them. Thanks for stopping by and if you decide to give them a try, let us know how it works for you. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  18. I love chapter titles! For my own writing projects, whether or not I use chapter titles myself often depends on genre. Contemporaries tend to just have numbered chapters, whereas I’ll always put in the extra effort to name them for fantasy!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m glad to find another chapter title lover here this morning, Rebecca. And I’ve heard people say they decide on whether or not to use them based on genre, too, but there’s no real reason I can discover for that approach, except author’s choice. There are books out there with titled chapters in every genre and always have been, so if you love them, why not give them a try one day in your contemporary work, too. You might be surprised at how well that can work. And if not, I’m glad to know you are using them in fantasy or other genres, at least. It makes it so much easier for readers to find their way back to something they want to reread, since those titles are a good reference point.

      Thanks for weighing in today, and yay for using chapter titles in some of your work! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  19. I alway entitle my chapters as they help me remember where my story is going – especially when I’m editing. They tend to be short though – often single words. Very occasionally I might use a cliche, line of a song or part of a proverb if it fits. Your post has encouraged me to do this more often and make a feature of my titles rather than sneak them in as if I’m ashamed of them. (I’m not good at titles and I need the practice.)

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m glad to welcome another chapter title lover right off the bat. I wasn’t sure what I’d find in the comments today, Cathy, but you’ve made me feel better already. 🙂 Chapter titles are one more chance to appeal to your readers, and there is no logical reason not to use them. For myself, anything I can do that adds entertainment is worth the effort, and as I say, my readers often make a point to tell me how much they love them. So, again, it’s a “why not” thing for me.

      I will caution you, though, about song lyrics, unless the song is old enough to be in public domain. Song titles are fine, song lyrics can get you in trouble legally, without proper permission. So be careful with that one, but otherwise, go for it. Those who don’t read them will continue to ignore them, and those who enjoy them will be happy to see them. Win/win. 😀

      Thanks for stopping by today and weighing in on one of my favorite subjects! 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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