1. chacotaco91
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    chacotaco91 Senior Member

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    consistency in length and flow of chapters?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by chacotaco91, Apr 26, 2011.

    Hi everyone. In my current work, I've noticed I have a wide range of chapter lengths and an odd way in which they're assorted.

    The average chapter seems to be around 3000 words, usually a little less.

    Sometimes though, I'll have a 4000-5000 word chapter.

    Other times, they're even as few as 1500 words.

    Unlike most multi-character fiction I've read, I don't evenly cover each character as I go. Sometimes a single character will have 3 chapters in a row, and then be gone for 6.

    I'm just wondering if this is acceptable practice or a general writing no-no.

    Thanks.
     
  2. Youniquee
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    Youniquee (◡‿◡✿) Contributor

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    It's perfectly fine, it doesn't matter how long a chapter is, as long as those words told the story that needed to be told in that chapter.
    That's okay too, my novel is like that too. I just do it according to what that chapter needs, and who it's mostly about. Though I recommend having one main main (2 mains for emphasis xD) character who is the main focus of the story.
     
  3. Banzai
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    Banzai One-time Mod, but on the road to recovery Contributor

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    Varying chapter length is fine. In some cases, it can even be used to enhance the pace of the novel (i.e. action-dominant parts with short, snappy chapters will give a fast-paced feel to it).

    As for character coverage, as long as the story works, it doesn't matter. If the story demands three chapters with one character, and six away from them, then just go with it.
     
  4. JimFlagg
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    JimFlagg Contributing Member

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    I was wondering my self what is a good rule of thumb for breaking up the story into chapters. What is a good stopping point for a chapter and a good starting point.

    I have seen writers use chapters as a sort of tool to control the story like James Pattersons' "Witch and Wizard", where the chapters are used to switch points of views. Just interested in every ones opinions on how to use chapters.
     
  5. JMTweedie
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    JMTweedie Senior Member

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    My chapters vary in length.

    I tend to start my new chapter when different actions/aspects of my story start and end. I have about 2-3 scenes per chapter.

    My first chapter is only 2000 words long at present and my second chapter has 3000.

    I estimate that I'll have about 30 chapters in total when I've finished my first draft.
     
  6. JimFlagg
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    JimFlagg Contributing Member

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    JM, I thought the same way that would be change in the action but I find my first chapter has about 2000 words and the second around 1500 but my 3rd only has around 500 words because it like an after math cleanup chapter not building on the plot a lot. I was considering merging them but the feel and venue are so different that I thought it should have been a chapter on it's own. It is confusing sometimes to know when to chapter and when to not. I guess if it was a science then it would not be called art.
     
  7. Leonardo Pisano
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    Leonardo Pisano Active Member

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    The length doesn't matter. A chapter is a section with a clear start and end that stands on its own. At least, that's how I take it. I would be careful with too many very small chapters, though, as this may create a fragmented feeling.
     
  8. Show
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    Show Contributing Member Contributor

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    I dont have a problem with varying chapter lengths. I think it's natural and normal.
     
  9. LaGs
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    LaGs Banned

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    Sometimes it's good to read a short chapter that's sharp and drives the story forward
     
  10. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    does it read well/smoothly, as is?... if it works, don't worry about it!

    or, as the old saw goes, 'if it ain't broke, don't fix it!'
     
  11. Jonp
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    Jonp Senior Member

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    A lot of my early chapters are very short, like only a couple of pages short. One is only a paragraph. But this is all setup, and the viewpoint/location changes often.
     
  12. The Soul Man
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    The Soul Man Member

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    I'd say that using chapters to properly structure and organize the plot is far more important than the chapter length. Particularly in a multi-charactered story, short chapters can being a refreshing change of pace and serve as nice little cliffhangers.
     
  13. Gothic Vampire Queen
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    Gothic Vampire Queen Member

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    I know Stephen King's The Green Mile (which looks lovely next to my other SK books) is short in some parts and verrrrrry long in other parts.
     
  14. Sang Hee
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    Sang Hee Contributing Member

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    Dwelling in statistics will get you creatively killed.
    I have the craziest variation of chapters' length and can't care less about how the others feel about it. As long as I have something to say that's relevant for the chapter I keep writing.
     
  15. MMC83
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    MMC83 New Member

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    I was worried about this as well, but I decided to not focus on these sort of issues and just write. Having read the answers to your question, I feel a lot more relaxed about this now. Thanks everyone!
     

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