1. Anathema
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    Anathema New Member

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    An Issue of the Lengths of my Chapters

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Anathema, Apr 14, 2011.

    So, I am currently writing a novel. It will follow traits of Lord of the Rings and the Wheel of Time. If I phrased that in a way that is difficult to understand, I simply mean it will be in the style of the preceding two series - My book uses no characters, places, names, etc. of Lord of the Rings or the Wheel of Time, they were simply examples.

    Anyway, readers of books like the ones I have just mentioned, or similar novels, will know they are very long. As is my book. I have estimated that the first in my series of novels, will have around 300,000 to 350,000 pages at least, split into two books. Many frown at this number, deeming it too long, but that remains to be seen.

    Anyway, to my question. My smallest chapter is around 7,000 words in length, and my longest being over 10,000 words longer, reaching around 17,500 words. So my query is, is such a variation in chapter lengths seen as unprofessional and generally disliked? I am currently working on making the 7,000 word long chapters longer, but I do not want to have to add needless conversation or description.

    Thank you in advance for any feedback!
    Anathema.
     
  2. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    The variation isn't the issue chapters are as long as they need to be.

    The issue I see is with such long chapters they are not going to appeal - getting to the end of the chapter if you read a chapter before bed is an important one.
     
  3. Terry D
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    Terry D Active Member

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    Break your chapters where the breaks naturally occur. Don't worry about keeping chapters to a standard length, and, most importantly, don't add content for the sake of hitting some arbitrary chapter length. Concentrate on writing a good story and worry about all the other stuff later.
     
  4. aimi_aiko
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    aimi_aiko Contributing Member

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    ^This.

    You could possibly break the chapters into parts. Such as, chapter 1 part A, for example.
     
  5. erik martin
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    erik martin Contributing Member

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    You don't seem concerned about conventions such as word length (which isnt really an issue if you self-publish, but will be a hard sell if you want to get your work published traditionally) so why worry the length of the chapters. As has already been said, make them as long as they need to be. If writing in the vein of Tolkien you will note that not all the chapters in LotR are uniform in length.
     
  6. Anathema
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    Anathema New Member

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    Your replies have helped.

    About splitting my chapters: I haven't a need for the chapters to be split into two or three, because 95% of my chapters have no dramatic variation in time, ie. the first half is on one day, and the second half is a few days later. However, if they were, then that is a good suggestion.

    I know they may seem long, but from what I can gather, most books of the genre I'm writing of have similar chapter lengths.
     
  7. popsicledeath
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    popsicledeath Banned

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    What worked yesterday, may not work today in getting you on the same shelves in bookstores.

    The only thing you should be beholden to is the needs of the story you're trying to write. And the story doesn't care what others did in the genre. If it happens to end up looking similar, then great, but trying to force a story into a package that it is not, could be bad. If you're just writing and writing and writing because you think people who loved Lord of the Rings, a series written a LONG time ago, will then surely love your series, you may want to re-think your strategy. Focus on how effective your writing is at bringing your story to life, not what it looks like or how it's formatting, and you'll do your story well.
     
  8. MidnightPhoenix
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    MidnightPhoenix Contributing Member

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    I had to do this recently with my chapter, it was 62 pages. So I look at the break, where I could stop. And I got a couple of chapter. Have a look at some books, that what help me. You can see that some make a new chapter just after 3 pages.
     
  9. Banzai
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    Banzai One-time Mod, but on the road to recovery Contributor

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    popsicledeath is absolutely right.Chapter length should be based on what your story requires, not on the stories you are trying to emulate. When reading,I personally dislike long chapters because a) they tend towards the rambling, and b) I don't like breaking in the middle of chapters.

    The other thing I' mention is that you say your first novel is going to be 300,000 pages long? Do you mean words? Even so, that is massively too long for one novel.
     
  10. aimi_aiko
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    aimi_aiko Contributing Member

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    Well, some people (fast readers) enjoy reading long novels with multiple chapters. Though, I find that some people (slow readers, such as I) find it very difficult to stick to a book with lengthy chapters. I won't touch a extremely thick novel for this reason. Not because I have no interest, but only because I'm a slow reader, and it would take me months to finish it.
     
  11. flanneryohello
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    flanneryohello Member

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    There are no hard and fast rules regarding chapter length, but a 17,500 word chapter seems a little ridiculous to me. I mean, you're venturing into novella territory there, for a single chapter!

    I can't speak for all readers, but I hate extremely long chapters. When I'm reading a book, I appreciate having natural stopping points. I also appreciate an author who seems to have control of their story and the presentation of their ideas, and I'll be honest, to me, a 17,500 word chapter suggests an undisciplined and/or inexperienced author.

    I'm willing to bet that you're missing opportunities for natural chapter breaks. I'm guessing (hoping?) that your 17,500 word chapter doesn't consist of a single scene. Perhaps break it into chapters based on scene changes, rather than the passage of days?

    The thing is, you're never going to get books of this length published by a traditional publisher. If that's your goal, I'd suggest you seriously reconsider your story. Yes, there are plenty of long fantasy novels/series out there, many written years and years ago, most by established authors. If your plan is to self-publish, cool, but I do think books of this length are a tough sell, especially from a new author. Yes, fantasy novels tend to be longer than others, but 300k to 350k words? For a single book (or was that two books--the original post was confusing on this point)? I mean, wow. Really?

    Honestly, when I see a new writer say that their novel is going to be, say, more than 175k words, I usually assume that there is plenty of overwriting going on. Either there are extraneous scenes, characters, or plot lines, or else everything is being overwritten--unnecessary words, out-of-control description, too much exposition, whatever.

    Yes, there are exceptions. But not many.
     
  12. Anathema
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    Anathema New Member

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    Yes, I did mean 300,000 words.
    If it was pages, I think I would be dead.
    And the subject I was enquiring about was the variation of the chapters as they are, rather than the length of them as a whole.
    And to Popsicledeath:
    I understand where your coming from, but I'm not writing and writing and writing to match LotR or whatever, I'm just writing and writing and writing because that is what is necessary for my novel.
    And to Flanneryohello:
    That is just the one chapter that is 17.5k words: it is broken between scenes yes, but I tried dividing it into two chapters, but it really did not sit right. But you've given me much to think of, so thank you. And sorry, I thought that might of been a little confusing. When I say it's split into two books, it works in the same way as the Fellowship of the Ring, and the other two books in LotR. The is the Fellowship of the Ring Part 1 and 2. It works in the same way as they do. :)

    Thank you again folks, great help.
     
  13. flanneryohello
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    flanneryohello Member

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    Fun fact: The Fellowship of the Ring is approximately 177k words. That's a long damn book! I can't even imagine trying to slog through Book 1 of a series that was twice as long! Then again, those just aren't my types of books, so there is that...
     

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