Chapter Titles as a Conversation with the Reader

I think the last time I saw chapter titles in an adult book was one by Donna Andrews.  She used the bird theme of her book and some managled quotes to create chapter titles.  It was a fun way to add another layer to the story. Admittedly, though, I haven’t used them before because coming up with the titles is a challenge.  I don’t want them to give away what’s happening, and yet, I don’t want them to feel like they shouldn’t be there.  I’ve read a young adult books where the titles were worse than not having one.  Talk to You Universe has a post on Considering Chapter Titles that’s made me consider it again:

Chapter titles can do two really interesting and useful things: they identify the core of your chapter, and they allow a writer to have an independent conversation with readers.

Two possibilities I could use chapters titles for:

  • Follow the theme:  The theme is “Sometimes lies are terrible things and the best choice we have.”
  • Omniscient narrator:  I have an omniscient narrator for the story, so I can also think about what the narrator wants to tell the reader.

Theme might be too heavy handed, given how much lying turns up in the story.  Omni narrator, though has some interesting possibilities.  I always liked the way Clive Cussler’s omni narrator made fun of the main character (though in the narrative, not a chapter title).  Maybe I could do something here, using the chapter title instead.  It has some interesting possibilities.

Have you tried chapter titles in your story?  What were your experiences?