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AWARD WINNING AUTHOR

Writing in the Sunshine. Writing in the Shadows.


Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Things that we don't do now.

I've been reading some of the classic crime books re-issued by the British Library, from mostly forgotten authors. They are still very enjoyable, particularly if you want a bit of a wallow in nostalgia - the village bobby and the wily police detective, the amateur sleuth, the total absence of DNA, telephones that are few and far between - bit like trying to get a signal on a mobile now :).

Get your quotes here?
One of the things that struck me while reading was something that you rarely see these days - I can't remember when I last encountered it in a book - chapter titles. Not only did the book itself require a title but each individual part of it also got a headline and/or a line of poetry or a quotation.

From Dickens to Tolkien and CS Lewis, and one of my great inspirations - Mary Stewart, who favoured the quotation method, they all gave individual chapters a heading. (Titles of books themselves were frequently quotations too - from the Bible, from Shakespeare or from poetry - again some of Mary Stewart's are lovely and intriguing - Nine Coaches Waiting, Madam, Will You Talk? This Rough Magic.)

The naming of chapters still happens in academic writing. When prowling the archives I am always on the lookout for snappy phrases and quotes to head up the sections of my dissertation. And resisting the temptation to invent a chapter just because I have a lovely quote.

When did the naming of chapters in fiction fall out of fashion? And why? E-books might have something to do with it, but I think it was declining before they were on the scene.

Will it ever come back, I wonder?


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