Friday, April 17, 2009

Chapter Headings

Do you put any thought into your story’s chapter headings? Some authors prefer to just use numbers with no heading. I do like chapter titles, but mine tend to happen rather haphazardly. Usually, each one comes about during the WIP with just enough brief description for me to remember during editing what went where so that I can find what I’m trying to fix.

If you’ve read any of Rick Riordan’s PERCY JACKSON books, you know that Mr. Riordan puts some thought into his chapter headings. For instance, the first chapter in his first book of the series is titled, “I Accidentally Vaporize My Math Teacher.” Enough said, right? Well, all his chapter titles are that clever.

Perhaps, Voltaire inspired Mr. Riordan. What? Although, not quite as outlandish, Voltaire does make use of the lengthy chapter title. Check out the first six chapters:

Chapter I: How Candide Was Brought Up In a Magnificent Castle and How He Was Driven Thence.
Chapter II: What Befell Candide Among the Bulgarians.
Chapter III: How Candide Escaped From the Bulgarians, and What Befell Him Afterwards.
Chapter IV: How Candide Found His Old Master Pangloss Again and What Happened to Him.
Chapter V: A Tempest, a Shipwreck, an Earthquake; and What Else Befell Dr. Pangloss, Candide, and James the Anabaptist.
Chapter VI: How the Portuguese Made a Superb Auto-da-fé to Prevent Any Future Earthquakes, and How Candide Underwent Public Flagellation.

That last one seems as long as the chapter! In other news, I’m taking two of my nephews (age 5 and 7) camping tomorrow at a nearby state park. It should be fun as neither one has ventured into the great outdoors before. We’ll hopefully get a good campfire and load up on s’mores. The younger nephew is the one I took to the zoo last weekend. Pray that he overcomes his concern (i.e., sincerely terrified fear) that a bear is going to get him, or I’ll be faced with a sleepless night.

More on titles next week. Have a good weekend!


  1. I love clever chapter titles but they have to suit the book. I love the Percy Jackson chapter names!!!!!
    Have a great weekend!

  2. I knew you'd comment on Percy, PJ! I'm with you on 'suiting the book' and plan to post on that next week. My thought is that both the above examples match the main character's voice.

  3. I've never used them, but I love Percy Jackson's chapter titles. Who wouldn't want to read those chapters?

  4. I'm with P.J. If they suit the book than it's fine otherwise it's distracting.

  5. I love titles if they are clever but I'm always sort of bothered by the cryptic ones.

    I think Voltaire could have been a tad more creative with his. :)

  6. Hope the camping went well. I love chapter titles, but use numbers myself.

  7. I'd forgotten about the cryptic chapter title. Those can be bothersome - especially when every chapter starts that way.

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