Tips For Writing Interesting Chapter Titles

opening a book to chapter one

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

You may be good at creating interesting characters, forging addictive plot lines, and building an emotional narrative arc, but have you given thought to how you’ll be titling your chapters? Although your manuscript contains the story, chapter titles can serve as a vehicle of suspense and storytelling as well.

How long should a chapter be?

There are no rules determining how long a chapter should be or attaining an average chapter length. However, a book chapter should successfully communicate a single objective to the reader, whether that’s a new scene, a character, an event, or a creative theme. It wholly depends on the genre of your book, the structure of your story, and what you are trying to illustrate to your reader.

Factors to consider when determining chapter length

There may be more considerations to factor into your equation, but pace and flow are important elements when determining chapter length.


The length of your chapters helps dictate the pace of your narrative. Longer chapters may delve deeply into character development, details about the setting, and progress complicated plotlines, giving a slower pace to your storytelling and the world you’ve built.

Shorter chapters can create a sense of urgency and quick progression. This can better highlight action or build suspense. In this way, the length of your chapters help set the pace at which your story develops.


You wouldn’t leave a sentence unfinished or disjointed, and the same goes for your book’s chapters. Each chapter leads to the next and can connect scenes in the same way sentences connect paragraphs. This flow is another key element in dictating how your chapters should be written to create a captivating reading experience. Your chapters serve as a pathway from the beginning to the end of your book, and your reader should understand and have clarity as to what each chapter is communicating.

Balance pacing and storytelling with chapter length

You wouldn’t tell a story all in one breath; no one would understand you. You also wouldn’t create one, long run-on sentence to tell a tale; it would be incredibly difficult to read. This is why balancing storytelling with pacing and a diverse chapter structure are crucial for your readers to know where to pause as they navigate your book.

Play with sentence and paragraph lengths. Mixing shorter and longer sentences creates a natural ebb and flow. Shorter sentences can create a snappy, staccato feeling and generate momentum during action scenes, while longer sentences can set atmosphere and evoke introspection.

How to generate chapter title ideas

If you’re writing fiction — a fantasy novel, for instance — allow what happens in the new chapter to serve as a title. It can be a featured character’s name, a snippet of dialogue, or a theme you can use to foreshadow developments in the overall trajectory of your novel. Just remember that your chapter titles are part of your vehicle in storytelling. They should guide the reader, provide clues of what is coming next, and pique a reader’s interest in the next phase of your tale.

If you’re writing a nonfiction work that covers history, politics, or recipes, your titles might be more straightforward, though you may still have room for creativity to help stoke interest. Either way, here are three things to consider when crafting chapter titles.

1. Aim for brevity

Short titles will create intrigue for your readers. As a writer, you want the title to sum up the central idea or point of the chapter. Many writers use working titles for the chapters as they write, and then come up with the final chapter title once the writing is complete. Others may title the chapter and use that as a guide for the content within. However you work, choose a brief title that captures the theme expressed in the chapter. For example:

  • A Red Ball
  • The Robbery
  • “We need to talk to Tommy”

Each of these examples is short while delivering an idea of what’s coming next. Raise your reader’s expectations and satisfy them as the story builds.

2. Give readers an incentive

Readers are often thinking ahead as they read to what might be coming next. Or, as they wrap up a chapter and are ready to put the book down for the moment, they may read the next chapter title for a clue as to where things are headed for the main character. If you’re writing a fiction novel, use your chapters to satisfy your reader’s curiosity with a clue as to where your story is going.

3. Paint a picture with imagery

Colors, locations, dialect, slang — all these can be used to create atmosphere with your chapter titles. Your prose is not the only place where you can use descriptive imagery and texture. Include sensory language to enhance the way readers experience your writing. Create an immersive experience with words that enrich your reader’s connection to your work.

How to decide on chapter titles

Your work has a central focus, theme, and objective. When you label your chapters, they can serve your story by building suspense, providing foreshadowing, or pointing to important moments in the story arc. Each chapter should progress the story and communicate your themes to your readers.

Titling chapters is ultimately another tool for storytelling and entertaining your readers. Treat them as another opportunity to build your story world and voice.

Proofreading and revising your book

Beta readers can also help you land on the best title for your chapters, and once you’ve completed your manuscript, make sure to have a professional editor comb through your manuscript to make sure it’s in the best possible shape for publication. BookBaby offers expert editing services, and our publishing specialists are just a phone call away. Call us at 1-877-961-6878 or visit us at

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Related Posts
Crafting The Perfect Chapter
Building Worlds That Captivate Readers
How Will You Build Suspense in Your Story?
How to Harness the Power of Foreshadowing
Why Chapter Breaks Are A Really Big Deal


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