For Jeff King: Chapter Headings

>> Sunday, November 22, 2009

Jeff asked: When you write, do you add chapters and name them as you go? or go back and add them later?

Good question. I tend to break things up in chapters as I go, though, with rewrites, I might break them up in different places, add a chapter here, cut sections from one chapter to somewhere else, etc. It's only as I'm getting to a fairly final form that I do two things to the chapters:

  • I name them with something key
  • I add something witty and pertinent beforehand.
Why? Not sure why I name them though I like that better. Perhaps it's to remind myself what's about to happen because I like my own stuff.

But the "wise saying" at the head of each chapter is a more serious take on the habit by the Myth Adventures by Robert Lynn Asprin where he heads off every chapter with a hilarious pseudo-quote like "Is everybody happy?" - Marquis de Sade.

Mine are rarely funny like that, but they're meant to come across as ancient wisdom and proverbs that fit with what's going on in my book.

Here are some examples from Curse of the Jenri (Sword and Sorcery)

  • One should never make an enemy for gold. Gold will eventually disappear, but an enemy can be forever. Chapter 1 - Introductions
  • One covets nothing so much as something lost. Chapter 12 - Inauspicious Beginning
  • Prison is a state of mind. The means of escape are always there; you must only have the mindset to notice them. Chapter 14 - Another Rude Awakening
  • Humiliation can be salutary, but only if taken in small doses, else it leads to self-doubt. Chapter 15 - Relative Hardships
  • Dangerous individuals make better friends than enemies. Chapter 18 - Truce and Enlightenment
  • In your efforts to overcome your greatest obstacles, do not forget the smaller ones. Many a would-be hero has triumphed over impossible odds only to be destroyed by the slightest mischance. Whatever may be your primary problem; it is not likely to be your only one. Chapter 27 - Escape and Rescue
  • It is not the moments of greatest danger that one remembers best or finds most exciting, but those moments when one’s world opens up. Chapter 38 - Jenri, the Next Generation

Ditto for Beast Within (Science Fiction/Fantasy)

  • If the bridge burns behind one, it is a sign the fates have chosen your path. Chapter 1 - Slight Detour
  • Many of the deadliest plants are beautiful. Chapter 6 - New World Anyone who craves power but forgoes responsibility is a danger to the tribe. Chapter 9 - Fly in the Ointment
  • The worst thing a parent can do is teach a child to question has his sense of self. Chapter 16 - Xander
  • Nothing is impossible to believe if you have no choice. Chapter 20 - Explanations
  • Those who control via fear always feel vulnerable. Epilogue - External Threats

So, now you know.


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