1. Lucy1712
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    Lucy1712 New Member

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    Chapter Lengths

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Lucy1712, Oct 14, 2012.

    I'm just wondering what people's thoughts were on chapter lengths.

    My first chapter currently stands at 7 pages/2,225 words. I think it's fine as it stands but I'm wondering what people think is an ideal/average length for a chapter to be. :)
     
  2. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    There's no ideal. A chapter is as long as it needs to be. I've read novels that have no chapters (or any breaks of any sort) and novels that have chapters every page or two.
     
  3. robertpri007
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    robertpri007 Member

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    As thirdwind said, there are no rules. Some chapters range from one or two pages to thirty and forty.

    Don't get hung up on it. Just make it so intriguing the reader wants to keep going, regardless of chapter breaks.
     
  4. Banzai
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    Banzai One-time Mod, but on the road to recovery Contributor

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    With chapters, the important thing isn't the length, but where you put the breaks. It's like breathing to singers, you have to get the timing right or it disrupts the flow of the piece. A chapter should be a single scene or idea (in a similar way to a paragraph), and as such the actual length is largely irrelevant.
     
  5. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    You could also search this forum for the word chapter. This question gets asked a lot.
     
  6. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    there's no 'right/wrong' or 'best/worst' size for a chapter... each one should be just as long as it needs to be...

    patterson annoys the bleep outa me with his silly 2-3 page long chapters, but his books are all bestsellers, so it works for other readers, obviously...

    and clancy or michener's nearly book-sized ones don't scare off book-buying readers, either...
     
  7. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    I suspect he does that to make his "collaborative" novels look distinctively his, even though other elements of the writing seem more consistent across the collaboration (where they collaborate on more than one novel)...
     
  8. Pheonix
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    Pheonix A Singer of Space Operas and The Fourth Mod of RP Staff Contributor

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    I think he kinda panders to shorter attention spans as well. But like Maia said, all his books are bestsellers.

    I've always thought that a chapter should be as long as it needs to be, and I have the habit of ending chapters on cliffhangers, not so much because I want to hook people in, but because It seems like a good spot to transition into something slightly different, aka, a new chapter. My philosophy is that, if a chapter feels complete, end it. It doesn't matter if it's 3 or 4 pages, or 30 or 40, when it's done, you'll know. And like others have said, it's all about timing.
     
  9. northernpsyche
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    northernpsyche Member

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    When you have a lot of action moving from scene to scene it can be difficult to break by scene. Personally though, if i'm reading a novel, i'll think to myself, i'll just read the end of this chapter. Then it goes on forever. Several pages sounds ok to me. Depends entirely on the story of course.
     
  10. MilesTro
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    MilesTro Active Member

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    James Patterson's chapters usually go up to three or five pages.
     
  11. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    I usually make mine stop when a natural break in the action occurs or when I'm building to a reveal, or cliffhanger.

    That's to trick the reader into reading just one more chapter.
    Depends on your genre - most best selling authors keep their chapters on the short side.

    I don't like making my chapters too long, either. Though I peeked at a book I wrote 10 yrs ago
    to see if I could salvage something from it and the chapters
    are over 35 pages long - yikes! broke my own rule.
     
  12. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    actually, most of them are no longer than 3... and my guess is it's done to pump up a too-short ms to appear novel-sized, thanks to all the extraneous blank page space that results from so many chapters... imo, it's cheating his readers and is why i stopped reading his work long ago...
     
  13. Fivvle
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    Fivvle Contributing Member

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    I very much dislike James Patterson's writing. He has the skill to make a page-turner, but that's about the extent of his abilities. I also dislike James Patterson's personality - he's extremely conceited.
    Anyway, yeah - I'm not a fan of continuous three-page chapters, either.
     
  14. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    i have to agree with you on all of that, fiv...
     

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