1. Myridia
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    Myridia New Member

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    Chapter Length

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Myridia, Sep 30, 2011.

    So, I have a question. What is the average length of a chapter? I know this is an incredibly general question, and I know that the length can vary greatly from book to book and genre to genre, but I'm working on a fantasy story, and I'm having trouble figuring out where to end each chapter.

    How long do your own chapters average out to be? I'm looking for word count more than page count, since the application I write in does not count pages.

    Thanks,
    Myr
     
  2. jwatson
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    jwatson Active Member

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    There really isn't an answer for this. End the chapter when you feel its right to end it. Don't worry about the "average chapter length." It's your book! Besides, in the long run you're going to change your MS many many times and with those changes will be chapter lengths and whatnot. Just my 2 cents.
     
  3. Jhunter
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    Jhunter Mmm, bacon. Contributor

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    I agree with jwatson, I end a chapter when it feels right. I don't look at word count. But if you really want to know mine are usually around 4k-5k words. But they can be as small or large as you see fit. So don't try to stretch or cut off a chapter just because mine happen to be 4k-5k.
     
  4. Pallas
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    Pallas Contributing Member Contributor

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    Yes I have been curious about this as well. The first chapter break I notice in my current story is at 25K; perhaps that is a bit too long, but as Jwatson said, things change in edit. As a general rule, I would say a chapter happens when you explore another avenue or subplot of the story perhaps in a change of POV or location, or tipping point.
     
  5. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    I agree with those who say there is no firm answer. Some writers don't even use chapters - it is not necessary that you do so. But the vast majority of works do use them, and I feel that it is up to the author to decide when the chapter break should come. You may do this during transitions in plot or subplot, or POV changes and the like. I've seen some authors who quite successfully use chapter breaks in the middle of the action, right at a point in the story where you'll want to continue to read "just one more chapter."
     
  6. Banzai
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    Banzai One-time Mod, but on the road to recovery Contributor

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    I view chapter breaks in novels like breathing for singers. To the experienced singer, it's obvious where to breathe, but to get it wrong will muck up the whole of the song. Similarly with writing. If you read and write enough, then it becomes obvious during the writing where the breaks should fall. There's no set length, and there shouldn't be a set length. If you make your chapters uniform in length, then you are neglecting a very useful and important tool for setting pace and atmosphere. And also, you're forcing your novel to fit a structure which is not necessarily intended for it.
     
  7. Trilby
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    Trilby Contributing Member Contributor

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    A chapter should be as long as it needs to be. There are no rules as far as I know. I wouldn't worry about it.
     
  8. echughtai
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    echughtai New Member

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    With my chapters I stick to a rule about 3k to 4k per chapter. and I am writing about 10-12 chapters. So I am looking at quite a lot of writing. Just hope and pray my computer doesn't muck up too much
     
  9. WhooshHayley
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    WhooshHayley New Member

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    I agree that chapter breaks should be found naturally and you need to find your own rhythm. But chapter breaks can also be a great tool in keeping the pages turning. I was reading a great book in bed last year (so good that the title escapes me!) and I kept saying to myself that I would go to sleep after the next chapter, but the chapters kept either ending on cliffhangers or giving info about what was to come and I was hooked. The book was an historical detective story, but I imagine that this would work quite well in your genre.
     
  10. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    Yes, WhooshHayley. Michael Connelly and Robert Crais are two writers who have this down to a science. They both write detective-type stories as well.
     
  11. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    When I read a novel, I remember mostly style - how beautifully the story was told. Then characters, scenes, plots, etc. I never remember chapter lengths. I never find myself thinking "That was a great book - the chapters were all just the right length."

    I've read a lot of books about writing, and taken several courses in writing. Nobody has ever mentioned chapter length as an issue. I suppose if it was important, then instructors and writing-book authors would make a big deal of it, but they don't.

    So don't worry about it.
     
  12. Steve T
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    Steve T Member

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    As far as I know, it doesn't how long the chapter is.Just end the chapter when you think it is the right time.
     
  13. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    successful authors' chapters run from 2-3 page up to near-book-length... there is no 'right' number... each chapter should end where it needs to end...
     
  14. EMSchell2009
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    EMSchell2009 Member

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    OK, I have 8 chapters complete and my "average chapter length" is 1800 words. Note: One chapter is ten words and one is 4800. Go with your gut.
     
  15. Mad Klown
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    Mad Klown Member

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    Depends on what your writing: a Novel or a Novella (usually under 290 pages). However, regardless of what you want to write if your Novel turns into a Novella then so be it. If your novella turns into a Novel then so be it. Write untill you feel you have told the story in that chapter and/or your manuscript.
     
  16. .red
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    .red New Member

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    Interestingly enough, I myself was wondering the same question today. And the only answer I came up with is the same one people have been advising you with - it's a gut/instinctive reaction really. Alternatively, if you have breaks perhaps in POV, where it shifts from one person to say another protagonist, then perhaps you can always use that as a way to divvy it up.
     

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