1. Esaul
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    Esaul Member

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    Chapter Length

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Esaul, Sep 21, 2006.

    How long should a chapter be? Does it depend if you use a chapter title and get the point across? Or do you use a certain set number, like five pages per chapter? I could use some insight on this, since I have difficulty deciding. My chapters tend to be very long.
     
  2. scottcolby
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    scottcolby New Member

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    A chapter should be as long as it takes to get across a particular idea.

    A change in point-of-view is also a very good place to change chapters.

    I find my chapters are very episodic. When my characters have completed whatever immediate goal is before them (or, for that matter, been thwarted), that's when I end a chapter.
     
  3. Sapphire
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    Sapphire Senior Member

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    For me, it doesn't matter how long it is as long as the chapter has some relevancy to the story. If it has something to do with a major plot point, then the chapter should be fairly long. Other than that, scottcolby has a point on what you should do in that situation.
     
  4. DagunZain
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    DagunZain Member

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    My chapter lengths are scattershot, but I try to shoot for a certain maximum, and that depends on the story, usually. You don't want to chop your story up too finely, unless it jumps around a lot. I've made two-paragraph chapters before, but it was relevant to the story to do it that way.
     
  5. Daniel
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    Daniel I'm sure you've heard the rumors. Founder Staff Contributor

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    I think it really just depends. I mean, oftentimes for myself there's a "natural" place for a chapter to end, such as whenever the scene closes, so to speak. One method I haven't yet tried, though i'd like to, is sort of what Stephen King often does. He'll have "subchapters", so to speak. Like, chapter 1.1, 1.2, etc.
     
  6. lioness1612
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    lioness1612 Senior Member

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    I would agree with this statement by scottcolby.
     
  7. Spherical Time
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    Spherical Time Contributing Member

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    I break between 5000 and 8000 words. Anything shorter or longer than that means that I'm losing focus.
     
  8. Fixed
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    Fixed Member

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    all my chapter's are between 500 and 15000 words, that's quite a big difference but honestly it all depends on the situation
     
  9. Spherical Time
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    Spherical Time Contributing Member

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    Have you considered using simply story breaks instead of chapter breaks? Why do you break for chapters at such odd times?
     
  10. Fixed
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    Fixed Member

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    the majority of them are between 3 and 6 thousand words, it's just one out of every 10 or so chapters are special and are better done extremely short or long. Quite a few writers do this actually.

    anyway what's a story break lol?
     
  11. Spherical Time
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    Spherical Time Contributing Member

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    I use "story break" as a synonym for "section break." It's where you leave a couple of lines of space to indicate that you're shifting time, place, or POV. It's for little breaks that might not require a full chapter break.
     
  12. WhispWillow
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    WhispWillow Contributing Member

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    Is that the * sign Sperical?
     
  13. Spherical Time
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    Spherical Time Contributing Member

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    I don't know if I can reproduce it online, but there's a special mark for it. § Does that work? Huh. Can't tell.

    Some people use three *'s centered to delineate a section/story break

    §​
     
  14. Esaul
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    Esaul Member

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    I prefer to use three of the *'s and centering them. At times I will have at least three to four of them in a single chapter alone since it revolves around the main characters and a secondary character who plays a role in the upcoming scene. I don't want to start a new chapter for each time a secondary character comes in.
     
  15. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    there should be no blank lines in a ms... necessary line breaks in mss have # or *** placed in the center of the line... other than that, all should be double-spaced, with no breaks...

    that's the standard format for submitted work... some publishers may have their own preferences, so don't forget to check their guidelines and follow them to a tee...

    love and hugs, maia
     

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