Rethinking Some Chapter Titles

For all who read and commented upon my previous post The First Dozen of The First Light, it should come as no surprise that I’ve since renamed chapters 2 & 4. Originally, chapter Two was called “Contemporary Antiquity,” which does fit because it reveals part of the history of Tyrhennia – a history that has ramifications for the current day. Of course, the key word is “part,” and that’s why the title irked me.

I’d love to call the chapter “True Confessions” but alas, that’s the title of a major film from 1981. Horrid thoughts about Robert DeNiro banging on my door and screaming “Are you talkin’ to me” made me drop that idea. I could use the word “Confessions” alone, but it isn’t very descriptive and sort of swipes an ancient title from St. Thomas Aquinas. (Catholic guilt alert) God knows that I don’t want to steal something from a Saint, and have Sister Attila the Nun smack me across the knuckles with a huge wooden ruler.

However, in the chapter, two characters do reveal something important to each other. Therefore, “Mutual Confessions” seems to be the winner.

QM Photo Dennis Hill (Creative Commons License)

I presented Chapter 4 to my critique group this past Saturday, and they all agreed that “The Creeping Shadow” was not a good title. In this chapter we get our first glimpse of the Tenebrae, and learn about how patient they are at implementing their plans.

However, much more is revealed about the personalities of two dark mages, Lamortain and Xymphilia (I think she’s getting a name change as well). They’re twisted, psychotic, and utterly violent. The manner in which their evil is shown within the chapter led a critique reader (Colt) to propose the new title “Lightning and Fire.”  I think I’ll stick with it. Thank you Colt, it’s so good to have author friends.

Do you perform mental gymnastics when creating chapter titles and character names as well?

7 thoughts on “Rethinking Some Chapter Titles

  1. I’m not using chapter titles in my novel, just numbers. In my memoir, I have phrases or sentences, but my sister and I decided to go with numbers for sections there also. I may just be lazy.

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  2. Yes I do perform mental gymnastics and I even have dreams where I actually get the answers. Then I jump up out of my sleep and turn the computer on to jot it down before I forget. Maybe that’s called a muse.

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  3. I’m impressed by the level of scrutiny you give to naming. I prefer names to come to me in some random manner, like when you get a new puppy and wait a few days to observe its personality before naming it. I use personality traits for character names until a proper one manifests itself.

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