Wednesday, March 31, 2010

In Which I Explore Chapter Titles

Revising a manuscript is like repairing dry rot from the hull of a boat. The deeper you dig, the more you find that needs work

For example, chapters. I am a notoriously fast reader (not just famous; I'm INfamous) and many times will not even consciously notice that I've crossed into a new chapter. This may explain why only now am I realizing how many ways there are to signal a new chapter. (I don't mean a scene break, for which I usually employ two hard returns).

Chapter 1

Chapter 1
The Harrowing of Edward Deane

The Harrowing of Edward Deane

Chapter 1
Edward is chased; his flight through the forest; he comes to a strange place; what befell him there.

Chapter One: In which Edward is chased through the forest.

Chapter 1
Twelve leagues he fled
the forest bare
His trail was red
His eyes they stared
--
from the Lost Book of the Sudmark

Okay, I KNOW it's doggerel. Point is, once I started playing around with chapter titles, it was as if I'd fallen down a long well with no bottom. I've settled on the simplest version:

Chapter 1
The Harrowing of Edward Deane.

Adding in fictional epigrams can always be done later. Which reminds me of my favorite, from Jerome K. Jerome's Three Men in a Boat,perhaps the funniest book I've ever read:

"I forget I am steering. Interesting result. Strange disappearance of Harris and a pie."


3 comments:

Kenneth said...

I vote for enigmatic one word chapter titles. Like "Apotheosis" and "Invictus". And as for epigraphs, you should use nothing but quotes from Charles Manson, Ted Bundy and other serial killers.

Sam said...

INfamous = MORE than famous (as in the infamous El Guapo)

I like the twelve leagues version. By far.

S R Wood said...

One-word titles can be amusing:

Thud
Hulk
Daisies
Sacrilege

Love it!