Quotes at the Beginning of Chapters (Help!)

Do you read the quotes at the beginning of chapters? Or little excerpts? You know, the 1-2 lines or even a small paragraph up by the title of the chapter. The one that may or may not have anything to do with the story itself. Do you read those?

Why I’m Asking

I’m using little excerpts at the beginning of chapters to try to pepper in exposition in little, teasing doses. I was debating whether every chapter needs one for consistency when I had a horrifying thought – do people actually read that sort of thing?

Do I even read them? I’ve been racking my brain, trying to remember. My answer isn’t helpful to me either. Because sometimes, I skip quotes at the beginning of chapters, and sometimes, I don’t. Same for excerpts.

When Do You Read Them?

If you don’t read them at all, please, let me know. If you read them sometimes, though, what dictates when you read them or not?

For me, it completely depends on the kind of quote and how much it’s tied to the story. If the quote’s kind of fluffy and not overly related to what’s going on, I don’t read it. If most of the quotes are funny in a creative way or directly related to the story, I’m much more likely to read them.

The best example of that I can think of is Robert Asprin’s Another Fine Myth and related books. The chapters there start with ironic quotes like,

“Life is a series of rude awakenings.” – R. Van Winkle

Myth Conceptions by Robert Asprin

Now, that’s a series where I read the quotes at the beginning of chapters. But those aren’t required to enjoy the story either.

Is It Worth Adding Them?

I love quotes, so that part of my brain really likes the idea of adding quotes at the beginning of chapters. The practical side, however, says that the amount of work isn’t worth it if no one reads them.

On the other hand, there’s no guarantee that anyone will read the book in the first place. And almost all guides I’ve seen say not to write your book a specific way because you think it’ll sell better.

So What Am I Going to Do?

Well, I really like the little excerpts I have. I don’t want to remove them, but I also don’t want someone to be too confused because they assumed the excerpts were optional.

For now, I think I’ll keep on as I have but make sure that the really important reveals happen in the main areas of the chapters. Maybe, I wouldn’t have put those in excerpts anyway, but now, I’ll know to check and be sure that the book works for people who skip as well as people who don’t.

Of course, if a bunch of you say that you never read them, and it’s a waste of time, I might reevaluate.

Who Reads Quotes at the Beginning of Chapters?

Is it just me? Writing problem aside, now, I really want to know. Am I weird, or do other people read them, too?


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