Some people use them, others don’t. I know one editor of a rather large publishing house who calls them an “author’s conceit” and states she doesn’t like them. Other editors don’t seem to care, or find them amusing.
I’m not sure why other authors do or don’t use chapter titles. Personally, I find them useful, for a number of reasons.
One, because Liquid Story Binder needs an identifier for each chapter or section in a story planner. I could name them Chapter One, Chapter Two and so forth, but with my non-linear method of writing, I’d spend a lot of time renaming chapters as I added others.
Secondly, because I find it helps keep me on target with the theme or emotion of the chapter. It reminds me what I need the chapter to do for me. I can look at the chapter titles and follow the overall progression of the various arcs. I have a chapter called ‘Hunting Grounds’, which is a description of Glyn ‘hunting’ his ‘prey’. ‘Into the Woods’ is the beginning of the story. Levi goes on a camping trip and is attacked by werewolves–the title is both literal and metaphorical.
Thirdly, I usually have an idea before I start a chapter of what I need it to do, but coming up with the right title often helps me refine what it is that I need to have happen during it. Sometimes the title itself requires research that helps me unstick a part of the story, or opens up other, better possibilities for plot points and situations to put the characters in.
And, lastly, I simply find it amusing. I enjoy puzzles–finding a chapter title that perfectly represents that section of the story is a fun test of my brain, my ingenuity, and my memory for random facts and quotes.
I suppose, in a sense, titles are like a mini outline that keep me on track and help me sort out the story before I write it. Which is weird. Does that make them my pantser-outline? Is that a thing? Can it be a thing? Can it also include cabana boys to rub my feet while I puzzle over new chapter titles? Because that would be totally awesome. And probably make for longer books, with lots of chapters.
Because I like puzzles. 🙂