Chapter headings.

Because I write stories with multiple character points of view and several storylines and interloping timelines, I'm always tempted to put in chapter headings. It seems like a good idea, designed to orient the reader to time and place and narrator.

But I'm finding in practice it's way too distracting to the story.

I tried to do that with "The Scorching" and "Snaked" and both were better off without the headings.

It did me some good to try, though, because it made me pay attention to what, when, where, and who was happening, and I found inconsistencies that I could clear up.

Now, with "Takeover," the temptation is even greater because the book is epistolary, made up of vignettes from many points of views. Witness statements, depositions, diary entries, etc. etc.

Turns out, putting a heading at the start of each scene makes the book feel really, really cluttered.

So, for instance, I just added a flash-forward action scene to the front of the book, which might be confusing without a timeline, but when I put in,

 "Vanessa Johnson, Deposition taken Oct. 5, Blue Ridge Hospital, John Day Oregon"

And then followed up with the next chapter by putting,

 "Peter Sterns, Diary Entry, Sept. 2, John Day Fossil Beds National Monument"

It made it feel overwhelming already, like OH. MY. GOD...this is homework!  It's also redundant since that information is in the actual scene.

I may have stumbled across a solution, a halfway measure. One of my editors wanted a timeline, so I put the name and the following words, "Events of (the date.)" Somehow, this doesn't look distracting to me, because they are always the same except for the date.

So the first three entries look like this,

Vanessa Johnson, Events of Oct. 5

Peter Sterns, Events of Sept. 2

Joshua Calley, Events of March 10.

And so forth. Sort of blends in, not intrusive, and allows the reader to decipher the timeline if they so chose, or more likely, ignore it.

I'm going with that, and if the publisher (assuming I have a publisher) has a better idea, he will tell me.