1. Kimi-chan
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    Kimi-chan Member

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    Chapter lengths for Novels?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Kimi-chan, Nov 23, 2011.

    Do chapters have to be a certain length for novels? I'm just curious because my chapters are usually between 1,000 and 2,000 words. I was just wondering if chapters have a certian length of words to become a good novel. :/
     
  2. agentkirb
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    agentkirb Contributing Member

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    I've asked a similar question before and the general consensus on this forum seems to be that as long as you aren't on one extreme or the other, pretty much anything goes. I don't think there's a minimum chapter length necessarily, but if you have chapters that are 5 words long... that's probably going too far. However, you can always combine chapters so it really isn't that big of an issue.
     
  3. Banzai
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    Banzai One-time Mod, but on the road to recovery Contributor

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    No, to be blunt.

    A chapter should be exactly as long as it needs to be. I look at it like breathing, for a singer. If you keep practising, you learn to know where the breaks fall -and it's much more about putting the breaks in the right place than it is the length of the chapters. Chapters can be as short as a few words, or as long as many thousands. It all comes down to pacing and storytelling. Look at some of your favourite novels, and see where they place the chapter breaks
     
  4. Show
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    I try to average 5K but that's mean, and I tend to have several sub-chapters in every chapter. I try to have each chapter have it's own focus. I don't care what everyone else does. I do what I need to.
     
  5. Kimi-chan
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    Kimi-chan Member

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    That sounds like me... XD I usually just write whatever it is I can on what I'm trying to get to. So doing that usually comes to about 1,000 to 2,000 words only. I want to work on making the chapters longer but that is usually tougher for me since... I tend to work more on, what I can do than what I should do. So like, if I was told to write a 5,000 word essay... I would put all my effort into writing as much as I COULD write because I'm terrible at essay writing... and it would come out to be between only 1,000 to 2,000 words or so. It does suck because I can only use my best effort. ._.
     
  6. Slinkywizard
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    My tip would be to pick up a comic book. Everything you need to know about chapter length is right there on the page. The large, half, or full-page cells tend to mark the bigger moments for the most part, that goes ditto for novels. Equally, if you're spending thousands of words getting across what in a comic book would be a small one-eighth cell, it's probably a sign that you're overly extending something containing very little substance.

    Like a comic book, those big moments you want your reader to savour, slow them down and make them important. Comic books usually handle this kind of pacing beautifully and the best thing is, it's a lesson that can be learned at a glance.

    So like I say, pick up a good graphic novel and make a mental note of why the 'big' moments take up more real estate.

    I hope you find that helpful.
     
  7. mickelarr
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    mickelarr New Member

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    There is no rule, and not really even a norm. I personally try to shoot for around 2k, with the idea of telling the "short story" of the chapter in those 2,000 words. I write fast-paced stories, so 2k is a nice, tight word count for keeping the thing moving.

    You have to find a philosophy that works for you and your style. There really is no wrong answer.
     
  8. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    some bestselling authors' works have 2-3 page chapters throughout and others' have nearly book-length ones...

    check out any book by james patterson for short, tom clancy or james michenor for the opposite end of the spectrum...
     
  9. Kube
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    I usually don't bother splitting up my work into chapters until I'm done. Once I do, I just go by feel. If you read your work, you'll know when the timing is right for a chapter break. I've read books that have a half page chapter and a 20 page chapter in the same book. Stephen King is a good example of this.

    From a practicality standpoint, I think shorter chapters are better than long ones in this day and age. Let's face it, the average reader doesn't have time to read 20 pages at a stretch. Rather, they might read a page or two while in the bathroom or while waiting for a bus. I know it's sad, but that's just how things are today.
     
  10. Kube
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    I usually don't bother splitting up my work into chapters until I'm done. Once I do, I just go by feel. If you read your work, you'll know when the timing is right for a chapter break. I've read books that have a half page chapter and a 20 page chapter in the same book. Stephen King is a good example of this.

    From a practicality standpoint, I think shorter chapters are better than long ones in this day and age. Let's face it, the average reader doesn't have time to read 20 pages at a stretch. Rather, they might read a page or two while in the bathroom or while waiting for a bus. I know it's sad, but that's just how things are today.
     

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