In reading a blog post by Sierra Godfrey about 1star reviews, I got a little random in my commenting and mentioned trying to figure out “how to translate my ability to flip to the section I want in a paper book” to my Kindle. This then linked to the thought that people should use chapter names rather than chapter numbers.
I don’t know if naming my chapters this is something I would have done without having joined Protagonize. But, there’s something about having the Chapter title box, with the little saying “This is the title of your chapter. Make it catchy!” that makes me want to use words more than numbers.
And let me tell you, adding chapter titles with a hyperlinked table of contents and it’s pure magic! I have used my tables of contents many times A LOT. Most pf the time I”m looking up information to make sure I’ve remembered something correctly. Without those chapter titles I’d be lost. Even with them I’m sometimes a chapter or two off, still better than randomly guessing.
So now that I’ve exposed their value (to me at least) how does one come up with Chapter title? Sad to say they don’t name themselves, so why don’t I step through some my chapter titles, both good and mediocre, maybe some bad.
Firstly, some things to keep in mind:
- Strike a balance between hinting and giving away what happens in the chapter.
- Stick to three words (not counting words like the, in, on, and, a, etc.).
- Make it catchy! Similar to bullet one, but now it’s purpose is to make readers keep reading.
Secondly, some examples, 2 from each book of my Phoenix Trilogy
- Scouting – As the title of the first chapter of the first book of the trilogy I feel it’s meh. It states what’s happening, but nothing really to pull us into the story.
- Ambush! – Book 1 is rife with titles like this one. It tells us exactly what’s going to happen in the chapter, and while it doesn’t give the outcome, it does spoil the surprise.
- Sarah and the Four Bears – I like this one because it gives reference to the story she ends up telling Bears children, maybe it could be better, but I liked it.
- Amber Waves of Pain – I like this one for many reasons. There’s lots of layers to it, though the simplest is that Sarah is in pain an ends up dreaming of the grain farm she grew up on. It’s a title that clicks about halfway through the chapter; just like a good book title. (Plus I love titles that make me think of songs) :}
- A Tour and More – Obviously there’s going to be some description in here, but what is going to be the more? Not a bad attempt at making the reader keep going. In fact I’m tempted to read the chapter because I’ve forgotten what the more is.
- Playing Telephone – I like this one for the juxtaposition of the modern invention in an archaic world. (That and it was one of the few decent titles I could find that weren’t song related, like Wheels on the Cart.)
So there you have it; some examples of chapter titles. I’ve given my opinions on them. What do you think about them?
:} Cathryn Leigh
P.s. There’s still a part of me that loves the Moomin Tolls chapters that also contain a summary, but I wouldn’t use those in something that wasn’t a kids book. Using them, while writing. to outline your next chapter however... Now that proved useful for writing my 2011NaNovel, The Nurie. :}