Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Writing Wednesday Tip - "Naming Chapters"

Just a quick tip today because the snow storms this week have been wreaking havoc on the internet service 💨😱

A lot of submissions cross my desk where the chapters are titled with the main characters' names....and I simply have to ask the question why?

For starters, it can belittle both you and the reader if you have to TELL them who the chapter is about, especially over and over and over again:

Chapter One:  David
Chapter Two: Lily
Chapter Three: David
Chapter Four: Lily...


The better option is a clear first line or second line/short paragraph of specific perception to strongly establish point of view of the chapter/scene.  Deeper POV works wonders in these situations.  SHOW the reader who the main character is by putting them right in that character's head ASAP at the beginning of the chapter.  Even if you are using first person for each character, there are subtle and strong ways to ensure the reader knows whose perception the moment is in.

The second reason for not using names as a chapter title is that you are basically dropping a big honking brick wall into your story, which totally defeats the purpose, especially if there is a good hook at the end of the previous chapter.  This wall stops the read flat, yanking the reader right out of your story for a second or two to read a name that is actually redundant to Tell.  And these are PRECIOUS moments you don't want to lose, because those are the exact seconds they remember the laundry needs to be moved from the washer to the dryer or they aren't ready for the meeting the next morning and really should look over those notes or get a good night's sleep.  Without that wall, without that redundant Name, your reader will go right from the end of one tense chapter to continue immediately into the tension of the next, to find out what happens next, and keep turning the pages, eager to read more.

Just to be clear, it is not wrong if you want to title your chapters, but that title should have a purpose, mean something to the story, and just repeating names over and over for every chapter just doesn't have that impact, so instead, let the characters themselves give your readers a reason to keep turning your pages fast and furiously!

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