Crafting Chapter Titles

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Chapters don’t always need titles, but when they do, they can be tricky to craft. My first books, EVO Nation and EVO Shift, are sci-fi and urban fantasy novels and chapter titles didn’t match the tone of the books. However, my fantasy novel, Thrown to The Blue, is split into different POVs, and each chapter is defined by the character’s name and a title. I’ve never had to craft chapter titles before, and it has been a great writing experience for me.

Here are the top five lessons I have learnt as a first time chapter titler.

Write the chapter before you title it.

You can have an idea for the title, but after writing the chapter it may not exactly fit, and you don’t want to have to tailor the chapter to the title. Once you have read the chapter, you can capture the overall tone/ message. You may even find a phrase or quote from within the chapter that works.

Not every chapter title needs to follow the same style.

I noticed this a lot in books I have read of late. The titles follow a style of some sort- perhaps just three words: For example: Sugar and Spice, Gold and Silver, Hurt and Betrayal. If this works for your novel, then roll with it, but please don’t think this is a necessity. You can have some short and sweet titles, quotes, one word titles. As long as the title sums up the chapter, then I don’t think it affects the experience of the reader if the styles are different.

If you can’t think of a suitable chapter title, leave it, and return to it later.

Sometimes a title is glaringly obvious, other times it eludes us. Do not force a chapter title, let it simmer for a bit before setting it in stone. It may even be worth not titling your chapters until your final edit. You can read through the draft with fresh eyes and the titles may jump out at you.

Sum up, but do not give too much away.

This is where it can be particularly tricky to find a suitable title. Summing up the chapter doesn’t mean highlighting the key narrative point in the title. For example: If Freddie is going to die in this chapter, it is best not to title the chapter ‘Freddie’s Demise’ or ‘The Death of Freddie’. This may seem like common sense, but I have seen it done. The impact you may try to make with a certain scene will be dulled by the reader’s knowledge from the title. Finding the balance between summing up and keeping it vague is what I found difficult.

Think outside the box.

This ties in with all the above tips. Forget what you have read in other books. Your titles should be unique to your novel. Just because particular titles or styles worked for another book, chances are they won’t work for yours too. Forget about your preconceptions on titling chapters and work with what you have written within each chapter. It is the best way to craft memorable, interesting titles that are true to your novel.


Content belongs to KJ.Chapman

 

 

 

 

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TIP SHARE #5

tip share

I have been sorting through this blog and realised that I’ve only done 4 tip share posts since the very beginning. Then, I had a brainwave- not only would I start up the tip share posts again, I will ask readers/ fellow writers if they have any tips they are happy to share.

If you would like to share a writing tip, you can comment below, or DM me on Twitter @KJ86CHAPMAN. I will schedule it in, and tag back to your blog or Twitter account.

I shall kick off the proceedings with ‘Tip Share #5’.

Antagonists are people too. Make sure they have history, motivation, and believe that they are the stars of their own story. We don’t have to agree with their motivations, just understand them.


Content belongs to KJ.Chapman

Tip Share #4

The fourth tip that I wanted to share with you all is a simple, but useful tip when writing that first draft.

‘Don’t fuss over the details. Stopping to figure out the exact size of bullet needed for a certain gun can put a dampener on creativity and hinder your flow. Keep writing, jot a note to remind you to research at a later date, and get that first draft down. Editing is called editing for a reason.’

This tip stems from experience. I have pages of scribbles in my notebook reminding me to find out specific, factual information that I don’t know off the top of my head. I prefer not to dwell on the details until the editing stage, otherwise I switch from the creative to the logical side of my brain and lose my train of thought.

Tip Share #3

This week’s tip share comes after a spell of self-doubt on my part. Occasionally, I question my writing ability and fall into a writing slump. It’s a load of tosh. Will anyone want to read this? I’m the worst writer in the world!

My tip:

‘Write for yourself and no one else. Write because it’s what you love, what you have to do, and what makes your soul happy. The rest will follow.’

It’s a simple as that. Take it back to basics and write for yourself. If you pour your heart and soul into it, the readers will feel it in their heart and soul.

Tip Share #2

Tip Share #2 is a personal preference of mine, and can be good fun too.

‘Use Google/ Pinterest to find images that reflect your character’s description, and compile a Visual Character Description Tool. Keep it to hand when you’re writing.

Some writers call it their ‘dream cast’ of people who’d play their characters if a movie was ever made of their novel. I call it my visual character description tool. Having a visual description is beneficial to me. It brings my characters to life in a way that’s different to just reading my descriptions off of paper.

I always stray from the visual description, and I do have my own idea of how my characters look in my head, but using a picture of a model or an actor allows me to see them in a different light. Perhaps, the model has a crooked smile that I think will benefit my character, or a certain actor has a unique scar that would add more background to my antagonist.

An added benefit, as I pre-mentioned, is that it’s also a lot of fun. I have created a visual description board on Pinterest for my first novel, EVO Nation. It was a worthwhile exercise, and I thoroughly enjoyed scouring pictures for an image that reflected a certain character.

Check out my EVO Nation board on Pinterest. If you have compiled your own such tools, or have any similar suggestions, please let me know.

Tip Share #1

I’m always on the look out for tips to help me with my writing and writing processes. And yes, most of those tips come from fellow bloggers.

Every once in a while, I plan to share a tip that I have learnt and found particularly helpful during my writing journey. I believe, with any advice, that as an individual we know what is right for us, and choose what advice we take on board, but if one of my tips can help, then it is worth a blog post.

‘Do not edit as you go. Get the first draft written, and then start the editing process.’

I learnt this the hard way. The more I edited as I went along, the less creative I became, and self-doubt would leave me with an unfinished manuscript. I NEVER finished a manuscript until I finally listened to this advice.

Keeping the first draft and editing process separate was liberating for me as a creative writer.