Sometimes chapter titles work really, really well. They can pique your interest about what’s to come. They can tie themes together. They can make you laugh. They can play on words or have hidden meanings that you don't figure out until later.
And like anything else, some authors are more skilled at crafting chapter titles than others. The best example I can think of is Harry Potter. Who doesn’t remember the first chapter title of the first book?
It’s iconic. Then there's "The Journey from Platform Nine and Three-quarters" and "The Weighing of the Wands." Brilliant! Some of J.K. Rowling’s other chapter titles are a bit more straightforward (The Sorting Hat, Quidditch, and Diagon Alley, for example). But because these things are so unique to the world of Hogwarts, they still rouse a reader’s curiosity.
Another author who excels at chapter titles is Sherman Alexie. Here are some of my favorites from The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian:
- Because Geometry is Not a Country Somewhere Near France
- Don’t Trust your Computer
- Because Russian Guys are Not always Geniuses
Some readers find chapter titles distracting. Others simply ignore them. Many like them only if they are unique, interesting or humorous.For me, chapter titles are not going to make or break a novel. They usually aren’t necessary, but when done well, they’re thoroughly enjoyable.
Do you think certain subgenres of YA use chapter titles more than others? As a reader, do you prefer them? As a writer, do you include them? What about books that use symbols in place of chapter titles?
Finally, what’s your vote overall—love 'em, hate 'em, or just don’t read 'em?