Chapters

Question: I wanted to know: what is the best way to name your chapters? Are numbers too standard and is the word 'chapter' really useful? Or are words more original? I also wanted to know if large flashbacks (returning at the beginning of every chapter) should have their own chapter and if so should they be named the same way as regular chapters? Sorry if I made it sound too complicated (:


Answer: Whether you title your chapters or just number them is a matter of personal preference. Sometimes you can convey a little style and personality through clever chapter titles. You have to decide if this fits with your narrative voice. Chapter titles can also create anticipation or suspense, and so prepare the reader emotionally for what's coming.

If you read novels published before 1900, you'll notice that many writers in the past created very long chapter titles, or even chapter summaries. That practice has largely disappeared, except in cases where the author deliberately wants to capture the flavour of that era.

Personally, I find that naming chapters helps me remember which chapter is which when I am writing, revising, or planning a book. But then you must decide if your "place holder" chapter titles are worth keeping in the final draft. If they don't add anything valuable to the book, you must either rewrite or discard them.

Of course, if you decide to title some chapters, you are obliged to title all of them.

As for putting lengthy flashbacks into their own chapter, this is often a good idea, especially if they are quite long. (Some writers do this even if they are short, just to separate them clearly from the rest of the narrative.) But there are no hard and fast rules about this.

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