So I've been thinking of how I wanted to work my chapters for my novel and have considered many different ways to work them.
1: Call them "Chapter One" etc....
2: Call them by the name of the character in which that chapter follows; ala GRRM's Ice and Fire series.
3: Give them a title of their own, something to do with what will happen in the chapter.
4: No name or anything, but the location or time and date, etc of where that chapter takes place and perhaps with whom.
I'm sure there are other ways to go, but these were ones I could think of off the top of my head. Now, my question... My novel will probably follow the first-person view of two/three characters. Which would you go with of the above options? I thought about just doing a name, but that would be the exact same as GRRM's books (and possibly others). Would it be weird to give the name of the character and a title or the name of the character and the location? I could use some feedback on what would be considered too gimmicky or what actually works. Thanks in advance!
Go for what you feel is right for the piece. Personally, YA fiction, I always chapter title. Adult fiction, depends on the piece. If I think it fits, I use them. If there are a lot of chapters, I'll just number.
I like them, but some works just don't need them. Like I say, look at what you're writing, and if you think you need chapter titles, give them, if not, number.
Edit: I don't like the idea of titling them the name of the character, but that doesn't mean you don't if you think it's right.
[This message has been edited by darklight (edited August 21, 2007).]
If nothing else look through a bunch of books and see what chapter titles are. OCS's own "Empire" has pretty interesting chapter titles. Ghost in the Shell (the anime specifically) has two interwoven plots alternating episodes, so all the odd set of episodes have names that follow one naming scheme and all the even numbered episodes follow a different one.
In my opinion, if you are going to name chapters, make sure it enhances the experience of reading the story. This does not mean 'give them okay names' but rather give them excellent ones that mean something, and have a communicative function otherwise why bother?
Only name a chapter once you understand it's key objective/role in your story.
PS: Why bother numbering chapters without titling them?
Why not Chapter A, Chapter B, Chapter C, Chapter C1, Chapter C Subchapter 2.... or any other sequence. Why not just the periodic table or atomic weights? Why not 'Chapter Shoe, 'Chapter megaphone', 'Chapter Grunties' or any other sequence of words that bear no relevence to the story?
[This message has been edited by hoptoad (edited August 21, 2007).]
I'm inclined to give my chapters titles---when I took up writing, it seemed to be a dying habit, but it seemed like an interesting thing to do. Some recommended the practice even for novellas and novelettes, but that might be a bit much.
It's just as hard to come up with titles for chapters as it is for titles for whole stories, though.
Luckily, writing titles seems to be an easy thing for me. Not all of them will be, granted, but most will come naturally once I write the chapter, or I even find that I have the name of a chapter and use the name to guide what that chapter will focus on. I've gotten some good ideas from your comments so hopefully I can come up with something that works out overall!
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In a YA novel with alternating viewpoints, chapter titles that included the character's name helped to orient the reader quickly.
Chapter 3, John: Bought the Farm.
It think chapter titles can be an art that can add to the story, especially if the title is an ironic twist, pun or joke based on the content of the chapter. If you have the reader turning the page to see what the next chapter title is, that can't be bad.