In a complicated novel, I've been playing around with the Victorian style of having a long chapter heading: e.g. In which the hero meets..., is ... and then... occurs. It's partly to solve the problem of lots of short scenes within a chapter. Does anyone else have challenges with chapter headings? In the past I've always used them as a trial run for finding an effective title. Just numbering chapters seems such a wasted opportunity. Anyone else having problems with naming crime chapters without giving away secrets?

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I've never tried chapter headings as you describe here, nor have I seen it done in crime fiction. I have written headings for myself as memory prompts when drafting, but I deleted them when I was satisfied everything was in there. Long chapter headings in a crime novel seem problematic; a little foreshadowing is good, but you don't want to give anything away, lest much o your book become, in Elmore Leonard's words, "the parts people skip."

I did create titles for chapters in a manuscript once, and it was a royal pain. Coming up with one title is hard enough. Fifty was ridiculous.

Timothy Hallinan titles his chapters effectively in his Poke Rafferty series. He takes a phrase from the chapter itself and uses it as a title. Some are serious, some are dryly humorous, but the effect is quite good.
Those headings date back to Cervantes, i.e. the beginning of the novel in the West. They were common in the eighteenth century also. The idea was to make the reader want to read the chapter. Nowadays, I think the effect is quaintly antiquated. That may well be attractive for your project.

I don't use that format. Few authors do. I settle for a short title (such as "The Pit"). Many books just use chapter numbers.
My books have many characters and many sections from different POVs so my editor asked me to use character names as section headings. It's something Declan Burke did in, The Big O.

Al Guthrie used movie titles as chapter headings in Hard Man, I think.

Long chapter headings could be a lot of fun. Worth trying out.
If you really want to mess with people on a post-modern meta-fiction sort of way, have the chapter headings describing nothing in the actual book. ;)

But seriously, I've never used fancier chapter headings, preferring simple and blunt numbers for everything. But I say give it a whirl to see if it works. You can always edit.
For my first historical novel I used either place names or the name of a major figure in the chapter as the heading. For my mysteries I'm just using numbers and keeping the chapters very short. I could see using those long Dickensian chapter headings if your story was set in the 19th century and they were used wryly or ironically. While drafting, I know my 'chapters' might change - some scenes will be combined, moved, deleted or summarized, and so I don't want to put energy into making up chapter headings
Sounds like fun. I've toyed with the idea of putting an old engraving at the beginning or end of each chapter since I love illustration. The engravings are available from Dover copyright free and Word treats them as a single character, so it's not difficult. Haven't had the nerve to broach it to my publisher yet. I say go for anything not too hokey that makes your book stand out.
I'm using epigraphs as chapter headings in my Tilda Harper series. Some of them are real quotes from reference books or whatever, and others are fake, supposedly written by Tilda or in books about the people she encounters in the books.

For example, in CURSE OF THE KISSING COUSINS, I have sections from an episode guide about the fictional show Kissing Cousins and excerpts for interviews Tilda had conducted with stars of the show. I would have used more actual quotes from books about TV and legendary magazine editor Gloria Stavers. Unfortunately, Five Star had a problem with using them quotes without permission. Now that I'm with Berkley, I can use real quotes again.


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