1. zilly
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    zilly Senior Member

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    Chapter Length for Children's Books

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by zilly, Feb 19, 2011.

    I don't know if this will classify as a children's book or a short story or what. I haven't finished it. I'm only a thousand words into it, but I definitely want it to be shorter than 4k words. Ideally, I'd like it to be 2k words, but I don't think I can get it that short. So, I don't think either of those could classify as a children's book, but I don't know.

    I read that children's chapter books are usually less than 10k words and easy readers are as little as 800.

    However, every children's book I'm familiar with is either very short like Dr. Suess' or Beatrix Potter's or basically a full length novel like Harry Potter series, Twilight, etc...

    It doesn't seem like there are many 1k-10k books. Does anyone know of any? I'm sure there are literally thousands of them, I just can't seem to find them.

    Anyway, to my question. There are 14 things that happen in the story and I've been breaking each little thing up into a chapter. Right now they are about 400 words a piece which I would think would be a very nice amount for an 8-10 age group. But, since I'm only four chapters in, I thought I'd get your opinions on whether I should expand or contract the chapter lengths.

    Right now, if the pace continues, the story would be about 5.5k words, which is significantly more than I want, but, in my opinion, that seems like it would be a very good length for that age group.

    What do you think?

    Thanks,
     
  2. matwilson
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    matwilson Member

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    The only real rule is, if you can say the same thing with less words, go for the less.

    Clarity is the key. Length doesn't mean very much, but I'm sure you will find those who disagree.
     
  3. zilly
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    zilly Senior Member

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    This is what always gets me into trouble. I try to make things as clear as possible. Nothing annoys me more when reading than something that isn't clear to me.

    Fortunately, I never have any read something of mine and say it is unclear. But, I do get responses that it's wordy. To me, it's worth the sacrifice.

    I really would like it to be about half the length that I think it will end up, though.
     
  4. Mallory
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    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

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    That's because there's a huge difference there. Dr. Suess and Beatrix Potter are for kids learning to read and/or whose parents read to them: the toddler through elementary range. Harry Potter and Twilight are more for preteens and teenagers.

    Try Barbara Parks' "Junie B. Jones" series, I think each one of those might be around 5K, and they're childrens' chapter books.
     
  5. zilly
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    zilly Senior Member

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    Well, I knew that =p I was just stating that it seems like the majority of books are for those age groups and not in between. But, then I realized that the Goosebumps series could probably fall into this category along with a new series 39 clues and, today, I went to the book store to investigate and saw The Guardians of Ga'Hoole. However, it seems as if all of these are part of a series. And, you just mentioned a series yourself.

    I'm guessing this is because it must be very difficult to get a book published for this age group without it being part of a series. It seems there would be a lot more uncertainty in that middle age group than any other.

    Is this true? Is there one book that really stands out that is not part of a series?

    Note:
    I wouldn't consider trilogies a series although a book with a sequel is technically a series. So, I guess the teen age group is dominated by series books as well, but these are usually series with four or less stories.
     
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  6. Mallory
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    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

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    I wrote a book in the middle-age/Goosebumps genre, but as far as I know it's not part of a sequel and it's still in revision stage, not ready for publishing...but I guess I'll find out!
     
  7. zilly
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    zilly Senior Member

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    Make sure to let me know how it goes! And, good luck!

    Do you know what the word count is? Chapter length?
     
  8. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    try the Faraway Tree, Cows in Action, Spy Dog, Matilda, Hardy Boys,
     
  9. Mallory
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    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

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    I love Matilda!

    Zilly, you mean mine? I think it's going to be about 25K post-revision and chapter lengths vary, but around 1K per chapter avg.

    Goosebumps are about 20K each, while others in the genre are 5K and others are 10K.

    Really, children's books vary a lot. Just write yours. Worry about quality of story, not length.
     
  10. Eunoia
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    Eunoia Contributing Member Contributor

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    Well, you're aiming for 8-10 year olds so I think you should go into a bookshop and look at that age category. You can see what type of books are there, whether it's mostly series or not, and lengths and so forth. Do your own research basically. But I'd just write your story, and ensure it's suitable for the intended age audience - don't worry about length.
     
  11. Silver_Dragon
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    Silver_Dragon Senior Member

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    I agree...you can always break your chapters up differently after you finish your book, based on what you find when you look at similar novels for this age group.
     
  12. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    you need to study up on what chapter books are for the various age ranges and how to write them...

    the easiest way to start learning the ropes is by browsing amazon... go to 'children's books' and then select the age range you want to target and you'll find chapter books galore!

    many of them will have 'stats' and 'concordance' info down below that will help you see how to tailor the writing appropriately... and many will allow you to read the first pages... sign up for this and you'll have access to much more than non-members get to see...

    you should also google for the best children's writer sites, where you'll get all kinds of advice on how to go about it...

    plus, i write books for kids and mentor many aspiring writers of same, so you can email me for some tips from the pros and/or help, as well...

    love and hugs, maia
    maia3maia@hotmail.com
     
  13. zilly
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    zilly Senior Member

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    I don't know how I forgot about Roald Dahl. I love his stories. I just went out and bought a collection of his books today.

    I want to write something in between Fantastic Mr. Fox and James and the Giant Peach in terms of length and readability. That being said, I'm yet to find a book that fits that group. I'm sure there are plenty, though.
     
  14. zilly
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    zilly Senior Member

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    I don't know how I forgot about Roald Dahl. I love his stories. I just went out and bought a collection of his books today.

    I want to write something in between Fantastic Mr. Fox and James and the Giant Peach in terms of length and readability. That being said, I'm yet to find a book that fits that group. I'm sure there are plenty, though.

    Thanks for helping me out so much. When I finish it, I'll be sure to get your advice again.
     

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