1. Eurlo
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    Eurlo Banned

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    Chapters, how long should one be?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Eurlo, Mar 21, 2011.

    I have a 5 page chapter, is this too short? I dont want to bother with a word count, so give me your opinion please!

    Also my prologue is 2 pages.
    Too long or too short?
     
  2. Banzai
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    Banzai One-time Mod, but on the road to recovery Contributor

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    The basic answer to this is that chapters should be as long or as short as they need to be. There's no prescribed length for them, I've seen chapters that have been fifty pages, and I've seen chapters that have been a couple of words. It's less about the length, but more about where the chapter breaks fall. If you read and write enough then you'll get a feel for chapters being enclosed scenes and ideas, and get a natural sense for where such break should fall in your story- more an organic process than a box ticking exercise.

    And in response to your "don't want to bother with the word count" statement, I think I should explain why word count is used in writing. Your measurements (5 pages and 2 pages) mean absolutely nothing to me. I don't know how big a page you're using, what font size, what font, how big the margins are. Or even if you've handwritten it. Word count gives a measurement not dependent on these factors, and thus which can be assessed more easily when asking questions like this one.
     
  3. Eurlo
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    Eurlo Banned

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    well know anywhere that I can copy/paste it all onto for it to count for me?
     
  4. Banzai
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    Banzai One-time Mod, but on the road to recovery Contributor

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    Does your word processor not include a word count? What word processor are you using?
     
  5. Eurlo
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    Eurlo Banned

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    microsoft works word processor, why?
     
  6. Eurlo
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    Eurlo Banned

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    ok it says i have 6337 words give or take a couple for title and chapter names...take away some of the nonsense blabber(song names, ect) i have 6135 take away 6 words for chapter name...6120 words total:)
     
  7. Thanshin
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    Thanshin Active Member

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    1024 words per chapter. Anything else is heresy.

    You can write "filler, filler, filler,..." at the end of a chapter to reach the 1024 word limit.

    Don't worry if you have to cut your chapter to fit the correct length. It's perfectly fine to end a chapter in the

    Yes. Absolutely.
     
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  8. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    Just pick up a couple of random books in your bookshelf and you will notice that the chapter lengths can vary enourmously from one book to another. As Bansai said, it's more about it being a complete unit, an enclosed scene, not about how many words/chapters. Whats important is when and how you end it and that you dont end a chapter at a certain point just because you think its too long, or lengthen it because considered too short.
     
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  9. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    Hihihi! ;)
     
  10. Eurlo
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    Eurlo Banned

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    Well total word count including some I have set aside for the time being is:11,622 words!
    I have written alot:D

    Changing chapters should involve subject change shouldn't it?

    I will not start a new chapter just yet, as I have a little more on the subject to write about. But I will when I'm done with this chapter that I figure will end within another 500-1000 words roughly, as there is not much left to write concerning this matter.
     
  11. Alvaro
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    You don't necessarily have to change subject to start a new chapter. Banzai is right, after a while you will find the natural pauses where you can start a new chapter.

    When I am reading a book I often say 'I will just finish this chapter before I go to sleep' or do something, so I want a chapter to end satisfactorily, though it can easily keep you in suspense as while doing that.

    Hope that makes sense at all....

    A. :eek:)
     
  12. Taylee91
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    Taylee91 Carpe Diem Contributor

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    A two page prologue is good. They're meant to be short, pulling your reader into your story. And I've read children's books with a chapter or two less than six pages long. I don't think they were too short at all. Really it's all about what you put inside them. And I suggest you find out why you would want one to be that long.

    One of my favorite authors wrote in a different pov for a certain chapter that numbered about five pages. Mostly she had kept her pov centered around her main character. But to keep her readers interest she switched to this other character of hers who had been missing. This made the chapter short. But I can see that was a smart choice. I wanted to find out what happened next.

    Do try to find out why this chapter of yours should be short. Maybe you might even add more to it.
     
  13. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    there's no rule governing chapter length... bestselling authors like james patterson have 2-3 page chapters, while james michener liked near-book-long ones...

    your chapters should be as long as they need to be, period!
     
  14. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    Again unless you are writing a certain brief for a publisher with requirements, then a chapter is however long a chapter is.

    My work they are usually around 3000, but I have one that is around 6,500, a couple just under 2,000 words and one very short chapter that is around 1000 words maybe a little under. I think changing them would impact on the story.
     
  15. Paris_Love
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    Paris_Love Member

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    A page of single spaced 12 point font text should be around 300-350 words. What program are you using to write? Most include a word count function as part of the software.
     
  16. colorthemap
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    Your book, your rules! Screw it and write!
     
  17. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    A chapter should not be one word shorter, or one word longer, than it needs to be. How long that is depends on what is happening in that chapter. I have seen chapters half a page long, and chapters upward of fifty pages. Nor do all chapters need to be the same length within the same book.

    By the way, you might want to try the Search function. This topic comes up ridiculously often.
     
  18. Eurlo
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    Eurlo Banned

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    I took the time to read your POV link Cogito, thanks for the help I think I tend to switch POV too much and at the wrong times:D So I'll try and fix those simple errors and see if it doesnt flow better:D
     
  19. funkybassmannick
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    funkybassmannick Contributing Member

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    What a lot of people are saying, that a chapter should not be shorter or longer than it needs to be, is correct. However, how long is that? It basically comes down to flow.

    I wrote a book, and then I had my professor give it a read, and he said my chapters were usually too short. I was separating the story too much, and should have been combining a couple chapters here and there so I could have a better flow. I did so, and I like my flow a lot better now. My point is, just because I thought I was splitting my chapters in good places, doesn't mean that the average reader would agree. Of course, this is all so subjective. I suppose you should read other stories in the same genre as your own, and note where they split their chapters and why. They might be much longer or shorter than your chapters will be, but you'll at least get some ideas.
     
  20. Wes
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    Wes Member

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    Chapter change = subject change...
    Not necessarily. The end of a chapter is just that. It's just where you want to end at that point. Like one said, pick up a book and flip thru it. You'll get the idea... As long as what you want to cover is in the chapter, it's fine.
     
  21. Eurlo
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    Eurlo Banned

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    Ok thanks everyone! :D
     

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