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Are Chapter Titles Necessary in a Book?
I’ll be honest, dear reader, right from the start of this piece. I think a book with chapter titles like this CHAPTER 1, CHAPTER 2, CHAPTER 3 etc., is a really boring way to start a book. Far more interesting and exciting is for a book to have chapter titles like Midnight Killer, Death in Paris, The Killer Strikes Again etc., because that lets me, the reader, have some inkling what to expect in a book and I usually peruse chapter titles when I download a sample before I buy. This sample download is essential for the Indie Author. Why? Because when you publish on platforms like Amazon, it’s Amazon’s way of helping sales by allowing the reader to download a sample to their kindle. That sample will either see your book sell or vanish without trace. Chapter titles are a hook. Just as a great cover is a hook and the contents blurb in a synopsis another hook, chapter titles can tell their own little story.
A Book TimeLine
The other advantage with chapter titles, from a writer’s point of view, is, if you use MS Word to write your book, that you can show your chapter titles in the navigation pane. So why not, while you are writing your novel, put a date at the front if a chapter title, like this.
12th June 1863 Mary Commits Murder
23rd June 1863 Evidence
25th June 1863 Mary Flees
Be consistent with your titles and make them all Heading 1. This can help when you view your MS with the navigation pane on the side. In this way if you need to move a chapter because it’s not in the right sequence, in the navigation pane click on the left mouse button on the chapter you want to move, keeping the button down, and drag the chapter title to where you want it then let go of the mouse button. The chapter will now be where you want it. This will save you copying and pasting. Just check to make sure it’s worked okay with a left click on the chapter you moved.
When you feel you have all your chapters ready and want an in-depth knowledge of who fits into which chapter, giving an overall picture, try the following. Go to the first chapter heading in your MS and click anywhere inside to place the cursor there. In Styles, Heading 1 should be highlighted. Now right click into the selected styles box and it should display a small dropdown menu, one of the options being Select All n instances, n being a number. Click on that. All of the Heading 1 will now be selected so on your keyboard press Ctrl and C. Open Notepad and paste your headings into a blank page. Go to the top of the list and remove anything you may not want. Click Edit & Select all. Then press Ctrl & C (this removes an formatting Word may have in the list.) Now open a blank sheet in Excel or any other spreadsheet. Click into Cell N1. Press Ctrl & V. You now have a timeline with plenty of blank cells either side to fill in locations, characters, actions and pretty much anything you like. I found this to be useful because on one side I can list characters and on the other side I can list locations. That gets the whole story, characters, locations and dates locked into my head.
So chapter headings are not just a useful hook for your story that your reader will take notice of, they can also be useful to the writer.
Copyright © Tom Kane 2020
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