Chapter headings seem to appear less nowadays than in the books I read at school, but I would rather not make a definitive claim about that because I also remember summers being longer back then. I have always liked each chapter in a story to have a title that gives an identity to the forthcoming portion of the overall text and invites me to read on and discover the reason behind the headline.
I have used this idea to divide ‘The Sin of Choice’ into forty-four chapters, each with a heading. If all of them are placed in a list, they make the briefest possible summary of the story, but a coherent one nonetheless.
I suspect that writers of fast paced thrillers with short chapters, all ending with breathless moments of jeopardy, would struggle to invent a title that could cover the next four pages until the inevitable cliffhanger. However, longer chapters in stories that are not dictated by the need for speed are more deserving of their own identity within the larger whole of the narrative. If treated in such a way, the chapter list at the beginning of a book invites the reader into the story before they have even read the first word. In my experience, chapter headings are like chocolates: although not essential, no one ever objects to them being offered.