1. Totzlol
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    Totzlol Member

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    Chapter Lengths

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Totzlol, Aug 3, 2011.

    Hello!

    I have a few concerns about the way my chapter lengths will be formatted in my final draft of my novel.

    First, there is an obvious concern that I have thought many times about fixing given feedback from a few readers I had take a look at it, but my novel has a prologue and so far it is longer than the three chapters I have written.

    My prologue stands at ~4200 words, but I feel the way it is written makes that a very acceptable amount of words.

    Chapter one is ~3500, chapter two is ~2900 and chapter three will be ~3000 once I am completed.

    Now, a few of my readers have said that they love the chapter length as it works for a quick read before bed, but I feel the chapters are a bit too short. Though, I like it the way it is so far because by about chapter 5 or so, I have no doubts that some of the chapters will reach ~10000 words, while there still may be the occasional chapter the will be ~3000. Is that too much of a variance?

    Should I be aiming to make my chapters all around a similar length, or should I simply be basing it on the content of the chapter and not stress too much the length?

    I am working on a fantasy trilogy and they will all end up being between 120,000 words and 150,000 words.

    Thanks!
     
  2. Trish
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    Trish I've been deleted.. again Contributor

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    Your chapters should end at natural chapter breaks (wherever those may be) and I wouldn't be too concerned with the length of them, or consistency. As long as the end of a chapter seems like a natural place to end a chapter you'll be fine.

    (*feels another prologue debate coming - hides*)
     
  3. Totzlol
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    Totzlol Member

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    Thanks, that's the feeling I have been getting, too. I have read and re-read the first three chapters at least 20 times each and I even shortened the prologue by about 1500 words, but it felt so lacking, and then lengthening my first three chapters felt far too drawn out.

    And I am sad I missed the first prologue debate, though I feel I had a pretty intense one with myself. Took me about 2 weeks to finally decide on writing the prologue, then another 2 to get it written, and of course another 2 to decide if I wanted to keep it that long or not. As you can see, the debate hasn't quite ended yet. =P

    I was using the prologue to define the writing style I was going to use in my entire book, so I had to pay particular attention to it. Haha.
     
  4. Trish
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    Trish I've been deleted.. again Contributor

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    Haha... there have been multiple prologue debates, they're still around here somewhere :p

    What do you mean you were using it to define the writing style of the book? (just curious, not starting the debate people!)
     
  5. Totzlol
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    Totzlol Member

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    Well, to put it simply, I am a writer of many colors. I have written so many small project books and they were all so various in length, style, mood...everything. While I was writing the prologue I kept using different styles and having to go back and re-write it.

    I found myself jumping around all over the place and changing sometimes one word, and sometimes 3 or 4 paragraphs at a time just to attune myself to the writing style I was going to use for the rest of the book.

    And in case you're curious, it's going to be a fairly dark trilogy, a LOT of magic usage, which I was concerned about, but then I got the same feedback from all 7 people who I had read over my prologue alone and said they loved the descriptions of the spells used and the tone of my words. So once I got all that feedback, I made my final changes and was SET!

    So excited to finish this book, it's borderline disgusting. haha
     
  6. Trish
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    Trish I've been deleted.. again Contributor

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    Okay. Not sure I understand still, but everyone writes differently so whatever works for you is good :D

    Sounds cool. And it's never disgusting (even borderline) to be excited about writing :D
     
  7. Ella Frank
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    Ella Frank Member

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    In regards to this topic, i think chapters can differ in lengths. there is no set amount of words required. Just a general and plausable place for it to pause and then restart. Your Prologue is LONG..lol the reason I say that is because I am having the opposite thoughts. I have a short prologue, it is 450 words. I am trying to decide if I should expand the opening sequence. Do you think a prologue can be too short??

    Ella
    xx
     
  8. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    Uh-oh....:eek: *hiding, too*

    i agree with what you said before that too.
     
  9. VM80
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    VM80 Contributing Member Contributor

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    One more time: deleting my 5,000 word prologue was the best thing I did for my ms.

    It led me to edit much more concisely & to remove other over-wordiness throughout. No drawback my any means. :)
     
  10. Totzlol
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    Totzlol Member

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    Well, one thing about my prologue is that it is basically two different prologues in one.

    For the first 1/3 of my book, it will be doing some swapping between two different races, and I decided to take a different route and tell of the tragedy that starts the trilogy from both perspectives.

    The first perspective is ~2500 words.

    That's when I tried shortening the prologue. I got rid of the second half, but it just took away so much depth!

    As far as a prologue being too short? Well, I think I have the same stand on that as I do with the length of pretty much anything else as far as writing goes. If it covers what is important to cover, then that is all that matters!

    Thanks for all the wonderful insight, folks!
     
  11. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    That might be true but it was not what he was asking for, so please let's not get started with that debate again. we've already been there...:rolleyes:
     
  12. VM80
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    VM80 Contributing Member Contributor

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    I thought he was concerned about the prologue too? If I misread that bit, then sorry.

    As for chapter length, there's no problem with having varying lengths. Just go with what feels right. :)
     
  13. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    I agree with VM80, chapters can definitely be of varying lenghts, I think they usually are. Who can decide whatever you're about to write will be only 2500 (or whatever) words? to me it would seem unnecessary limiting oneself like that and probably no one would know that anyway. (I never count the words/pages for each chapter when I read...)
     
  14. Mugen
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    Mugen New Member

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    Just my 2 cents:

    I've been reading a lot of Charles Dickens recently. Fairly long chapters. Then I went from that to Chuck Palahniuk's "Choke." I don't think any of his chapters were longer than 8 pages. It took a little getting used to, but three chapters in, I didn't even notice it. I think as long as the book maintains some kind of natural flow throughout, you'll be okay. But if you have a random 10k word chapter in the middle of a sea of 3k chapters, you better make it a damn interesting chapter, because the reader's expectations have been set, and they'll be waiting for that chapter to end with each turn of the page.
    However, good writing triumphs all, so do whatever you feel like.
     
  15. Faust
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    Faust Contributing Member Supporter

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    I usually do this:

    Plot the details > Write the first draft > Second Draft (Add chapters) > Third draft, adjust length to taste > Serve with chilled margaritas and a side of awesomeness

    Generally speaking, I don't even THINK about chapters until the story is told. Then I break it up at natural pauses in the flow, which helps with chapter transition, imo.
     

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