Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Do You Like Writing Chapter Titles?

 I just cannot imagine writing a book, without chapter titles enticing my readers into the story, or making the readers mull over what will happen in the course of the chapter. Actually, I have an obsession with chapter  titles. I need them to get my creative juices flowing in a big way. When I write the  first draft by hand, right on  top is the chapter title sending frantic messages to my brain.

Infact, I sometimes feel that I initially conceive the chapter title and later build a scene around it. For me the title works as a  scene prompt or a trigger to propel the story forward. Many times a title jumps into my mind and then my brain cells start buzzing with ideas to build around the  chapter title. I know, I must be sounding funny, even weird, but that’s just the way it is with me. So far, I have never written a book without chapter titles.

I am sure that if I just had plain old numbers: 1,2,3,4,  my poor brain would clam up and I would be stuck in a major writer’s block.

Let me share two incidents  that occurred while I was working on my current WIP. I was stuck big time at a point in my  book. I was so badly stuck that I even thought about shelving the manuscript for the time being. Then, magically I had an idea to take the story forward. The idea came in the form of a character, who became the chapter title and literally grabbed the story out of my hand. A few days later another chapter title jumped into my head  and brought  with it one of my favourite scenes from the book.

What about you all? Do you have chapter titles in place when you start writing, or do the chapter titles make their appearance later, after you have finished writing? What is your chapter title creative process? Do you like chapter titles? Or do you feel they are a waste of time.

30 comments:

  1. Personally I don't use chapter titles. I can see how they would help with creating the scenes, however.

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  2. Rachna Madam, I will tell you when I write a book in future.

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  3. I always learn some thing new from your posts. I do read the chapter titles. No they r not a waste of time.

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  4. @ Lynda....chapter titles have really helped me with my scenes. For Middle Grade fiction they are wonderful.

    @ Kuenzang...here is wishing that you write a book fast. :)

    @ Alka...I agree that chapter titles are not a waste of time.

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  5. titles speak itself about the plot.. A nice read :)

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  6. I really like it when novels have chapter titles. You don't seem to find chapter titles so often in new books (or at least not ones I read) whereas in older, classic books they seems a bit more common.

    Lovely blog, Rachna.

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  7. I write chapter titles, although I do not include a Table of Contents. I think it helps organize my thoughts as I'm writing, and makes it easier for the reader to give them a hint of what to expect.

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  8. I don't worry about novels without them, though sometimes they are fun, sometimes helpful, sometimes misleading. :O)

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  9. Now that has got me thinking. In Dreaming of Sleep I'm not using chapter titles, but there are dates. I tend to write a story and then see the natural ends and beginnings of the chapters as I go. Having said that my idea for Cosmic Seed (a possible future project) would probably have chapters titles, as I've already thought of a few!

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  10. I have a friend who writes amazing chapter titles, but I've never done it before. I think it might mess me up, actually! LOL

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  11. I like chapter titles, but tend to come up with them after the chapter has been written. But the thought of doing the title first as a writing prompt is a great idea. I'll give it a try as I work on my next WIP. Thanks!

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  12. I prefer chapter names, but also feel it depends on the particular book you're writing. There are some great novels out there where numbers are all you need because each chapter transitions pretty well and you don't even notice.

    I usually write a chapter and come up with a name during that process, but usually when editing a second draft, creating the chapter name first helps with inserting new segments/scenes, etc. into the storyline.

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  13. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings, probably is the first set of books that really got me into creative chapter names. He did them so well and it was a thrill to also see them used as musical cues on the movie soundtrack.

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  14. Hi, Rachna! I love chapter titles. It's a hook. I love to sum up the chapter, or even kinda sum up the conclusion of the chapter without giving away any spoilers in the chapter title. :)

    Can Alex save Winter from the darkness that hunts her?
    YA Paranormal Romance Darkspell coming fall of 2011!

    ♥.•*¨Elizabeth¨*•.♥
    www.authorelizabethmueller.com
    facebook
    Twitter
    Goodreads

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  15. Ooh, I never write chapter titles but your post is so true! A good chapter title definitely keeps me going as a reader.

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  16. I've never used chapter titles, isn't that funny? I guess we all have our personal tastes with chapter titles.

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  17. I love chapter titles! Especially in YA.

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  18. I enjoy chapter titles. They can set the mood or reflect something specific associated with a particular scene.

    I, however, am terrible with titles period. So far none of my WIPs have any chapter titles (I can barely come up with good overall titles). But I'm definitely open to using them if it fits with the story.

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  19. I like them. I've never done them before, but for the MG I just started on, I am considering it. I think I've seen them more in books for kids. That is cool it helps you get inspired to write!

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  20. I title my chapters and scenes after I wrote them, simply so that I know what happened in each scene. So instead of the titles inspiring my writing, they are there to jog my memory about what I already wrote.

    I don't mind titles though, as long as they don't spoil the end of each chapter.

    :-)

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  21. I like chapter titles, dates, quotes and songs have been used to get the reader in the mood of the story. Done well it's like a little bonus. Sometimes it can break up the suspense... so, wise judgement must be used... ;)

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  22. I like chapter titles but never really thought of them as prompts. This is a great idea!

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  23. I don't like chapter titles, I feel it gives away what's going to happen. I know that in YA fiction chapter titles are quite common, but it wouldnb't work for me. I write literary ficitn anyway :o)

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  24. Lovely post. Like the idea of using chapter titles as scene prompts. Learn't something new today.

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  25. Enjoyed reading your post on chapter titles. Nice to meet you.

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  26. @ Rachit..chapter titles speak about the plot by giving small and subtle hints.

    @ Joanne...yes, most of the older books had chapter titles, the new ones are giving it a miss.

    @ Stephen....even I do not include a table of contents, chapter titles give readers hints about what to expect next.

    @ Madeleine.....I find chapter titles really helpful to organize my thoughts.

    @ Jenny and Leela ....thanks.

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  27. Yep, my old comment got wiped out by Blogger. I am one of those people who don't do chapter titles. It's fun to see how everyone does things differently!

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  28. I never, ever, EVER write chapter titles. Not once in all the books I've written. I think it's because I was "trained" in the romance field and my targeted market at the time, Harlequin/Silhouette, didn't do chapter titles. Young adult and middle grade novels do have them sometimes, so I probably need to rethink that...but if I did do chapter titles, I'd probably do them after I'd written the book?

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  29. Rewriting my original comment cos blogger ate it! I never use chapter titles. I used to like them when I was younger when I used to read YA , especially the Point Horror series. But I find that it gives too much away, taking away the element of surprise away for the reader.

    I do think they work really well in MG and YA books, though.

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  30. Hi Rachna
    This was a good read. I have never thought of creating chapter titles first, I like how you were saying chapter titles speak about the plot by giving small and subtle hints. This does seem to break focus points into smaller sections before expanding on them as sub stories.. :)

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