1. Tomaz
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    Tomaz Member

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    Balancing Chapters

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Tomaz, Sep 15, 2009.

    I’ve been working on probably my largest project to date and looking back, I’ve realized that there are a few chapters that are horribly disproportioned in comparison to the majority. Most of the way through I’ve managed to keep chapters pretty much self-contained (in the sense that most events start and finish within each chapter, carrying forward only the main plot elements) into about five pages on average - but there are a few (admittedly where the centre of the action lies) that are over fifteen pages.

    Both chapters can’t really be split into further chapters without breaking the trend I’ve set myself that each event is self-contained in one chapter. But looking over them, I also get the impression they’d drag on too long if they weren’t broken up. Another problem is that there would be no obvious place to split them up.

    Do you guys feel its important to keep a natural chapter balance? Or I am I obsessing over nothing? :(
     
  2. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    The bigger problem seems to be that those chapters ramble, rather than that they are disproportionate to the other chapters.

    Sometimes it's better to break the continuity, and leave the reader hanging in mid-scene. You can build anticipation by jumping to a different scene in between.

    It doesn't work in all situations, but it's worth considering if you have a scene that just hangs on too long.
     
  3. architectus
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    architectus Banned

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    Why do you want all your chapters about the same length? I think that is like have all your pragraphs or sentences the same length.

    Variation is good.
     
  4. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    I agree with what architectus said. Some scenarios demand longer sections to describe what is going on. By making all chapters the same length, you might be leaving stuff out or adding unnecessary fluff. Take as much (or as little) space as you need.
     
  5. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    all i can do at this point, is ditto all of the above!
     
  6. B-Gas
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    B-Gas Contributing Member

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    All of the above, as proven by Dan Brown. Say what you want about his writing quality, he writes gripping books. And his chapters vary all over the place. Some of them reach six pages, some of them ramble on for over twelve. But most of them are short- most of them are very, very short. Some are only three lines long. This keeps you going, as you never quite know whether you're done with a chapter or not. In books with big ol' chapters, you can feel yourself drawing close to the end of one; with Dan Brown's chapters, you're never sure that it won't cut off at the start of the next page.
     

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