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Monday, 19 January 2015

Writing – word-play – chapter headings continued-2

Last blog on the subject of chapter titles, I provided an insight into Catalyst, where many of the chapters played with variations on the theme of ‘the cat’. See here

However, my psychic spy Tana Standish series chapter titles follow a different format. They’re all single word headings. By doing this, to some extent I’m signposting what the chapter is about, though not giving away too much - because that's always an issue , revealing something that should be a surprise.

Here are the first four from The Prague Papers:

1: Prelude – self-evident, but two-pronged. A) A glimpse at Czechoslovakia in 1968 and Tana’s mission there during the Soviet invasion. B) jumping to the narrative’s ‘present’, 1975, and the beginning of this mission, Operation Ouija. This latter scene is also very relevant to the end, Chapter 24. De-briefing.

2: Tana – yes, most of the book is from Tana’s point of view. However, this chapter shows a long flashback revealing her origins in Poland in 1942.

3. Fort – here we briefly visit ‘the fort’ in Gosport, Hampshire where to this day British spies undergo some of their training.

4. Ilyichev – the name of a Soviet enemy Tana wounded in the past, who now stumbles upon her during her mission and sets his telescopic sights on her…

So, you get the gist. Even a one-word chapter heading can be helpful to a reader should they wish to check back to a scene or sequence of events.

As a possibly interesting aside, Chapter 1 of The Tehran Text is entitled ‘Heart’ and Chapter 1 of The Khyber Chronicle is ‘Herat’, the latter being an anagram of ‘heart’ besides being a place in Afghanistan.

1. The Prague Papers e-book available now

Amazon UK here

2. The Tehran Text e-book due out February 17, 2015

3. The Khyber Chronicle - work in progress

The Tana Standish Series published by Crooked Cat Publishing



Tom Rizzo said...

Nic, I've been "experimenting" with the idea of chapter headings/titles in a novel I'm writing. Focus and creativity, obviously, is key. But I really like the idea and the rationale behind the one-word approach you took--sort of a single-word road map for readers. Thanks for sharing.

Nik said...

Thanks for commenting, Tom, and good luck with your latest book.