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  1. #1
    Denis Bonner

    how do you name your chapters?

    In one book I have written I stuck to Chapter 1, Chapter 2 etc.

    In all the others the chapters are an indication of the content in one way or another.

    What do you all do? And why?

  2. #2
    Sarah H.

    Re: how do you name your chapters?

    One, Two, Three. Why? Cause that's how the big guns do it.

  3. #3
    Ed Leahy

    Re: how do you name your chapters?

    In the first novel I wrote, I simply numbered the chapters. Writing it was more of a learning experience than anything else, and because of that, I probably didn't have a clear idea of how I wanted to structure it. Hence, chapter titles were not readily apparent (and, in fact, I struggled mightily for a title for the book).

    The novel I am trying to get published now, about a priest in an inner-city parish, was a very different experience. I knew the names of some of the chapters before I even began to write them, and others I knew by the time I was halfway through them. In fact, I wrote the entire novel very quickly (for me, anyway). It was completed in about 6 weeks - of course, that was followed by months of painful editing.

    The one I'm working on now - an historical - I also find I have a clear idea of chapter titles as I am working on the chapters, although not in the same manner as the last one.

  4. #4
    Jon Piper

    Re: how do you name your chapters?

    Good question? I never understood the purpose of chapter titles in a work of fiction. Do you remember the chapter titles of books you've read? Why spend time and energy creating titles rather than creating story.

    To me a great story moves forward, chapter to chapter, seemlessly, and chapter numbers are sufficient. We could do away with numbers too without any problem. But I think we need page and chapter numbers for editing and reference/discussion purposes.

  5. #5
    Ed Leahy

    Re: how do you name your chapters?

    Jon, I don't remember too many chapter titles, but I do think they can add something, and provide a sense of organization to the reader.

    Two examples come to mind. One was Allan Drury's Advise and Consent, which was broken into four or five parts, each titled for a major character whose past was developed there - "Bob Munson's Book", "Seab Cooley's Book", etc, except for the last (and shortest) part, which was entitled "Advise and Consent", and which was where everything was brought to a conclusion. The POV also changes from part to part. Chapters within each part were simply numbered.

    The other example is James Michener's book, The Novel, which is broken into four major parts, each named for a participant in the publishing process - "The Writer", "The Critic", etc. Again, each part shows a different POV, and in addition, the first part, "The Writer", is written in the first person while the other parts are written in the third person.

  6. #6
    Jon Piper

    Re: how do you name your chapters?

    I liked the way Michner wrote each major part from a different character's pov. I don't recall if he named the chapters though.

    Out of curiosity I pulled some novels off my shelves and the great majority did not name chapters, not that it means anything for an author who wants to name his/her chapters.

    For what it's worth, here are some examples of novels that are broken into Parts or Books.

    Lust For Life names its Books but not the Chapters.

    Gone With the Wind does not name its Parts or its Chapters.

    A Farewell to Arms no Book or Chapter names.

    The Fountainhead names its Parts not its Chapters.

  7. #7
    Ed Leahy

    Re: how do you name your chapters?

    The four parts of Michener's "The Novel" are entitled:

    "The Writer - Lukas Yoder"
    "The Editor - Yvonne Marmelle"
    "The Critic - Karl Steibert"
    "The Reader - Jane Garland"

  8. #8
    Jon Piper

    Re: how do you name your chapters?

    Right, Ed. I can't find my copy of the book, and don't remember if each of the parts was broken into chapters with names.

    Denis, I'm sorry for steering away from your original question.

  9. #9
    Joe Zeff

    Re: how do you name your chapters?

    When I wrote both of my two books I simply numbered the chapters. However, while I was writing the second, I had a few ideas for chapter titles. Later I went through and named them all. (Hey, word count is word count.) In each case, the chapter tells something about what happens but not always in an obvious way.

    As an example, the first chapter is called "The face in the window." You'd think it refers to somebody looking in or out of a window, right? No, it's because at the beginning Gwill has formed a 3D mask in a window to talk to Mortrain. This leads to a rather funny exchange:

    "Do I make Myself perfectly clear?”

    “No, my Lord, You are not perfectly clear,” Mortrain said with a slight smile; “That’s a stained glass window.”

    The God Gwill’s face clouded for a moment with fury, then cleared. “Oh,” He said in a thoughtful tone, “I was wondering why you looked so blue.”

  10. #10
    Irese Sheridan

    Re: how do you name your chapters?

    I tried naming chapters when I first started in the business, and ran out of anything clever after chapter 5 or so. Since then, everything turned numerical. Did write a first draft of an adult fantasy several years ago that was broken into Parts and Chapters. I might have named the parts had I ever rewritten the novel, but not the chapters.

    Doesn't Mary Higgins Clark name her chapters? And I think Cussler gives titles to parts of his books.


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