Saturday, September 24, 2011

Chapter Titles

Folks may judge books by their covers, but I also judge a book by its chapter titles. As a young fellow, I'd look at the cover, of course, but we collected old books, many of which didn't have dust jackets or pictures on the binding. The title, frontispiece, and chapter titles were sometimes the only way to quickly judge a book by an unknown author. Good chapter titles drew me, but merely numeric chapters were an obstacle.

For example, consider the Messenger of the Black Prince, published by Thomas Mawhinney in 1928. Besides having a good story title, it boasted intriguing chapter titles such as these:

The King's Fool
I Am Attacked in the Woods
A Trickster
We Hunt the Wild Boar
The Silver-Hafted Dagger
The Highwayman of Tours
I Find a Companion
The Three Crows Inn
The Scrivener Disappears
The Scrivener Turns Traitor
The Defense of the Cave
The Abbot of Chalonnes
The Black Prince Again

And, of course, no classic juvenile fiction would be complete without at least one chapter title such as "Trapped!", "Escape!", "Pursued", or "Besieged".

The book did not disappoint.

In my own books, I hope to have equally interesting chapter titles. Perhaps they will be good advertising through ebook previews (since the table of contents will be visible for free). But even if they aren't, I still want to be able to read my chapter titles, and find the same indication of a good story I did as a young reader.

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