“Chapter titles!?” sez you. What is this, the 18th century? What am I supposed to write? Something like this?
Chapter the first, in which our hero is born, discovers that fire is hot, learns to pull up his own breeches, and slays a smallish dragon.
Hey, those 18th century writers knew their marketing. A reader flipping through a book in the shop could get an idea what kind of things were going to happen in the novel if it had descriptive chapter headers.
But yes, I know chapter titles went out of style in the age of modern minimalism.
Hemingway didn’t need no stinkin’ chapter titles. Neither did Fitzgerald or Faulkner.
However, some of the postmoderns later ventured into chapter title waters. David Foster Wallace used them in Infinite Jest, and John Barth titled his chapters in The End of the Road.
And in the 1990s, Annie Proulx used chapter titles to great effect in her Pulitzer Prize winner The Shipping News. Most of the chapter titles are the names of sailors’ knots, or other naval terms. Each chapter embodies a certain kind of knot, like “Love Knot”, “Strangle Knot” and “A Rolling Hitch.”
These literary authors used the chapter titles to enhance and comment on the content of the chapter. Even though they wrote before the era of e-books, they used the chapter titles in a reader-enticing way.