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Chapter Numbering or Chapter Titles? (1 Viewer)

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LadySilence

Senior Member
I was talking to a friend of mine.
I asked for advice, "what do you prefer, as a reader, only the chapters with the numbers; Or chapters with a title?".
She replied that she prefers numbers so she can keep the suspense.
I personally hate numbers, I love reading the title of a chapter.


Which of the two is right?


How to find a compromise that satisfies all readers?
 

SueC

Staff member
Senior Mentor
I was talking to a friend of mine.
I asked for advice, "what do you prefer, as a reader, only the chapters with the numbers; Or chapters with a title?".
She replied that she prefers numbers so she can keep the suspense.
I personally hate numbers, I love reading the title of a chapter.


Which of the two is right?


How to find a compromise that satisfies all readers?

Hey Lady,
Well, you're probably not going to satisfy "all readers," and I think you should do what personally appeals to you. For me, I will say I prefer both. I can't tell you the number of times I have been moved - to tears or laughter - by a passage in a book, and wanting to find it again to read to someone else, but couldn't. If a title to a chapter was there, it might be an easy thing to relocate. Or just if you want to re-read a part again, a number might not stick in your head as well as a title.

I've got a WIP which identifies who is speaking for specific chapters. It's generally written in first person, but there is a different voice every couple of chapters. The ones under the same voice do not have a title, just the chapter numbers. I honestly don't know what the "standard" is for titled chapters vs. numbers, so this is just my opinion. :)

This comes from www.writingclass.com
Titles certainly aren't necessary for individual chapters. Plenty of great novels simply use numbered chapters to break the story into sections. Titling each chapter with the name of the narrator helps establish who is speaking. ...





 

Mark Twain't

Staff member
Board Moderator
Gosh, this didn't enter my mind at all because I can't remember the last time I read a book with chapter titles. Would be interesting to find out which are more frequent but neither is wrong nor right so I'd say go with your gut and do them how you'd like to see them. You can't please everyone.
 

robertn51

Friends of WF
[...] Which of the two is right? How to find a compromise that satisfies all readers?

Heh! The things I learn from others' asking.

So I went, "Chapters names? Numbers? Who pays attention to those things? I just read."

Curious though, I looked at the Tables of Contents of some books I am reading. And, sure enough, I hadn't even noticed.

Nesbø - Numbers, but titles, too: Dates, day number, tag word.
Mosley - Numbers
King - Numbers
Corey - Numbers, but a character name title, too, each
O'Farrell - Neither (No chapters in ToC, but definite breaks in text)
Ide - Numbers, but titles, too.
Powers - Titles only, beautifully

Looking more closely at Joe Ide. He even reuses chapter titles between books. Go figure
In "IQ" there's Chapter Three: Where’s My Samitch, B!tch?
In "Smoke" there's Chapter Seven: Where’s My Samitch, B!tch?
A situation I will definitely investigate.

Bottom line? I did not even notice the chapter tagging when I read. And I now might start paying attention to them.

Compromise? Both number and title? And do not give away the chapter events in the titles. (Please not the Victorian "CHAPTER III In which our hero has to wait the issue of an argument."?)

[2021-04-19 0933]
 

vranger

Staff member
Supervisor
There is no "right". Author's discretion. I always have a chapter number, and in some books I add a title if it seems to make sense. In my last novel, so much of the action continues from one chapter to the next titles didn't seem important. In the fairy tale I'm writing now, I include titles in a whimsical manner. My fantasy novels have chapter titles, my sci-fi book last year did not.

Something to keep in mind is that chapter titles are often a form of foreshadowing, so it makes a difference whether you want to give the reader that little clue.
 

indianroads

Staff member
Global Moderator
I see this as a non-issue since so few people pay attention. What's done is personal preference.

If you're going to have a table of contents, you need least a number or a title of some sort; to my eye, just the number looks kinda weird.

# or 'Chapter #', and possibly a title (Chapter 1: Murder), works for me.

Whether you even have chapters really depends on your story and your style. I've read books that were just a collection of scenes - personally I don't like that format but that's author preference.
 

Irwin

Senior Member
I have titles in my outline, but that's primarily for my use when I'm looking for a specific chapter. I don't plan on using them when I publish at this point, although that may change. I'll see what other people think when my novel is complete.
 

LadySilence

Senior Member
Hey Lady,
Well, you're probably not going to satisfy "all readers," and I think you should do what personally appeals to you. For me, I will say I prefer both. I can't tell you the number of times I have been moved - to tears or laughter - by a passage in a book, and wanting to find it again to read to someone else, but couldn't. If a title to a chapter was there, it might be an easy thing to relocate. Or just if you want to re-read a part again, a number might not stick in your head as well as a title.

I've got a WIP which identifies who is speaking for specific chapters. It's generally written in first person, but there is a different voice every couple of chapters. The ones under the same voice do not have a title, just the chapter numbers. I honestly don't know what the "standard" is for titled chapters vs. numbers, so this is just my opinion. :)

This comes from www.writingclass.com
Titles certainly aren't necessary for individual chapters. Plenty of great novels simply use numbered chapters to break the story into sections. Titling each chapter with the name of the narrator helps establish who is speaking. ...
When I write the drafts, I put the titles, just for me, so that I immediately remember the subject of the chapter.
I would like to find a middle ground; use a system that pleases everyone.
But I think I will opt for the numbers, I see that they are the most used.


Gosh, this didn't enter my mind at all because I can't remember the last time I read a book with chapter titles. Would be interesting to find out which are more frequent but neither is wrong nor right so I'd say go with your gut and do them how you'd like to see them. You can't please everyone.

Heh! The things I learn from others' asking.

So I went, "Chapters names? Numbers? Who pays attention to those things? I just read."

Curious though, I looked at the Tables of Contents of some books I am reading. And, sure enough, I hadn't even noticed.

Nesbø - Numbers, but titles, too: Dates, day number, tag word.
Mosley - Numbers
King - Numbers
Corey - Numbers, but a character name title, too, each
O'Farrell - Neither (No chapters in ToC, but definite breaks in text)
Ide - Numbers, but titles, too.
Powers - Titles only, beautifully

Looking more closely at Joe Ide. He even reuses chapter titles between books. Go figure
In "IQ" there's Chapter Three: Where’s My Samitch, B!tch?
In "Smoke" there's Chapter Seven: Where’s My Samitch, B!tch?
A situation I will definitely investigate.

Bottom line? I did not even notice the chapter tagging when I read. And I now might start paying attention to them.

Compromise? Both number and title? And do not give away the chapter events in the titles. (Please not the Victorian "CHAPTER III In which our hero has to wait the issue of an argument."?)

[2021-04-19 0933]
I leafed through the books in my library, and I discover that some books do not even have the index, and consequently neither the Numbers nor the chapter titles.
I do not know if this is due to the editorial choice of the translation or the original version and even so.



There is no "right". Author's discretion. I always have a chapter number, and in some books I add a title if it seems to make sense. In my last novel, so much of the action continues from one chapter to the next titles didn't seem important. In the fairy tale I'm writing now, I include titles in a whimsical manner. My fantasy novels have chapter titles, my sci-fi book last year did not.

Something to keep in mind is that chapter titles are often a form of foreshadowing, so it makes a difference whether you want to give the reader that little clue.

I see this as a non-issue since so few people pay attention. What's done is personal preference.

If you're going to have a table of contents, you need least a number or a title of some sort; to my eye, just the number looks kinda weird.

# or 'Chapter #', and possibly a title (Chapter 1: Murder), works for me.

Whether you even have chapters really depends on your story and your style. I've read books that were just a collection of scenes - personally I don't like that format but that's author preference.
I could also avoid putting numbers, or chapters, and leave everything uninterrupted.

I have titles in my outline, but that's primarily for my use when I'm looking for a specific chapter. I don't plan on using them when I publish at this point, although that may change. I'll see what other people think when my novel is complete.
It's the same thing I do.
And one thing that helps me in the diagram.

As a reader, my preference is for titles (or both). However, it's very important to me that the title is a hook of sorts rather than a spoiler. It's possible for a less experienced writer to err with this.

Whatever you want to do. Look at your genre and see what others have done. I go both ways, depending on the series I'm writing. There is no right or wrong answer.
I'm working on spy novels, and thriller.I hadn't thought that gender could affect it.
In this case, the numbers are perhaps more suitable.

I use both, with the subtitle usually being a quote from somewhere in the chapter. Example, "Chapter 1: "You Shouldn't Have Done That".

I like this idea
 

vranger

Staff member
Supervisor
I could also avoid putting numbers, or chapters, and leave everything uninterrupted.

Chapters are for the reader's convenience. They provide a reference if the reader loses their place, and often provide a convenient place to pause until the next reading session ... VERY important. LOTS of people read to the end of a chapter.

I personally wouldn't care for a book that's uninterrupted text with no chapters.

Sometimes authors get some avant garde ideas, and some of those ideas are very good. The idea of books without chapters is not among the good ones. ;-)
 

bdcharles

Wɾ¡ʇ¡∩9
Staff member
Media Manager
I was talking to a friend of mine.
I asked for advice, "what do you prefer, as a reader, only the chapters with the numbers; Or chapters with a title?".
She replied that she prefers numbers so she can keep the suspense.
I personally hate numbers, I love reading the title of a chapter.


Which of the two is right?


How to find a compromise that satisfies all readers?

Neither of them are "right" or "wrong". It's a matter of preference and what works with the style of the book. Personally I like titles, even though I had a moment a few years ago where I suddenly became convinced they were for kids. For me, they're one more area in which to be creative. But I get the numbers=suspense argument too.

Find a compromise by doing one book with titles, and another with numbers.:)
 

LadySilence

Senior Member
Chapters are for the reader's convenience. They provide a reference if the reader loses their place, and often provide a convenient place to pause until the next reading session ... VERY important. LOTS of people read to the end of a chapter.

I personally wouldn't care for a book that's uninterrupted text with no chapters.

Sometimes authors get some avant garde ideas, and some of those ideas are very good. The idea of books without chapters is not among the good ones. ;-)

This discussion helped me come up with a couple of ideas I can use, such as replacing chapter name / number.

I don't know why but I like named chapters in fantasy but not necessarily in any other genre. It seems to go well with fantasy for some reason.
Yes, it's true!

???

Neither of them are "right" or "wrong". It's a matter of preference and what works with the style of the book. Personally I like titles, even though I had a moment a few years ago where I suddenly became convinced they were for kids. For me, they're one more area in which to be creative. But I get the numbers=suspense argument too.

Find a compromise by doing one book with titles, and another with numbers.:)
A chapter with numbers, a chapter with names :-D
 
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