Re: RARA-AVIS: How important are chapters?

From: Patrick King (
Date: 01 Jul 2008

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    --- On Tue, 7/1/08, Allan Guthrie <> wrote: As a reader, I don't mind at all. I'm perfectly happy to accept the convention. As a writer, latterly I've tried to avoid numbering chapters because, as you say, Rob, it's pointless. Perhaps if we counted backwards there'd be some sense to it -- you'd know you were getting closer to the end and there might even be some associated tension as a bonus. But counting forward to a random number? Page numbers already do that. I did use numbered chapters in one book, but I can't say I had much of an opinion on the matter at the time so never gave it any thought. In another book, I gave each chapter a short, meaningful title instead, but my editor convinced me that there were too many chapters for it to work, so the headers never made it to print. I can't think of a good reason for incrementally numbered chapters. Although that's not to say there isn't one.


    For reviewers, reporters or readers like us who analyze stories, it's a hell of a lot easier to note what Joe says in the fifth paragraph of chapter 4 than it would be to say "on page 367 of the Penguin edition, 294 of the Pocketbook edition, Joe claims...." etc. Numbered or titled chapters have certainly numerous uses besides letting a reader know how far along she is in the story.

    Patrick King


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