On Chapter Titles

I have been thinking recently about chapter titles. I have had bad experiences in naming chapters and thus developed the habit of simply numbering my chapters. But there is always that inner struggle. Chapter titles can give a glimpse into what the chapter is about, provide hidden insights in retrospect, and add dimension to your book. Some of my favorite books have chapter titles. But although I take pride in naming my characters, chapter naming is one of the banes of my (writing) existence–along with table of contents and back cover summaries.

It’s definitely quite a task to sum up the importance of a chapter in one to three words. That’s why I think it is good for me. It helps me focus on what the purpose of the chapter is and I think it helps give my reader a reference as well. (Plus, there’s this added benefit: skimming for quotes or important scenes is much easier with titles)

Really, you would think I would be better at chapter titles. I like to categorize things. I have a name for my car. I had a name for my old laptop (need one for the new one!). I have named different seasons of my life. I like ascribing meaning and value to things. But naming a chapter…grrr. Of course there is often an obvious answer. The problem is the fine line between being obvious, giving away too much, and not adding anything to the narrative. Then there’s the whole issue of trying to create symmetry with other chapter titles, sections, and the progression of the plot.

So if anyone has some advice feel free to share! I think I will probably end up with titles that satisfy me, but it takes a lot of work and I like to complain about it 🙁

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