1. KokoN
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    KokoN Active Member

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    How long are your scenes?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by KokoN, Apr 22, 2016.

    Question is pretty self-explanatory. By "scene" I mean up to the point where you would put a line break or a chapter break in place to indicate passing of time, change of point of view or location, or any other reason why you would end a scene. Most of my scenes have been between 450-950 words. Do you put a lot of scene breaks in your novels (like I do) or do you tend to have fewer, longer scenes?
     
  2. ToDandy
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    ToDandy Contributing Member

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    It depends on what I'm writing. I've done adult, young adult, and middle grade. As expected, Middle Grade usually contains shorter and quicker paced scenes while adult scenes are considerably longer and more detailed. So it all depends on what I'm writing and my target readers.

    As for chapter breaks, my chapters are almost always between 3,500-5,000 no matter what age group I'm writing for.
     
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  3. Pauline
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    Pauline Member

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    In a first draft, as long or short as they need to be. But I find they become almost uniform in length in revision. Some shorter scenes I merge together. Basically they end up between 1300 and 1600 words, occasionally a little longer or shorter.
     
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  4. HelloImRex
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    HelloImRex Contributing Member

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    Longer than 450 words.
     
  5. Cave Troll
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    Cave Troll Bite the bullet, do your own thing. Contributor

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    Well it depends on my mood, 2-4 hours is long enough right?:superlaugh:

    It all really depends on the scene. Some are not very long, and some span 1-4 pages (document pages). Action scenes are typically the longest, as well as some of more or less introspect of the character narrating at any given time. Though I really enjoy my action scenes quite a bit, not afraid to let a character share their thoughts while doing a given task. :p
     
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  6. NiallRoach
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    NiallRoach Contributing Member

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    Five hundred to a couple of thousand.
    My longest was around 5k, I think, but that was very introspective and 'action packed'.
     
  7. Lifeline
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    Lifeline The Dark - not in Wonderland Supporter Contributor

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    Typically between 1.2k and 2.5k, with almost no exceptions. Chapters are between 7k and 12k, depending on the content.
     
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  8. Anna100
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    Anna100 Member

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    Apparently I like shorter ones too. In my current story it's somewhere between 500 and 1000 words. Sometimes when writing a scene I get the 'what to write now?' and then I just figure I'm jumping to the next even though it's short (and if I'm bored with it, the reader will be bored, right?) I always thought I shouldn't have such frequent breaks. I read The Road by McCarthy recently and was surprised that his scenes are very short and I think it influenced me somewhat. :p Anyway, maybe this is my thing right now, and that it will change in the future. How does people feel about shorter scenes, by the way?
     
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  9. JD Anders
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    JD Anders Member

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    To be frank, they can be quite annoying. That's not to say they can't be done well, but I still have a horrible memory of reading a book based on Peter Pan when I was younger. I think it was about 350 pages long, and there were an absurd amount of chapters (I'm talking over 80) including some that were half a page. I enjoyed the book somewhat, but I'd never been so annoyed with a writing style in my life. Ever since then, I tend to gravitate away from books with a lot of short chapters.

    I wouldn't let that deter you, as that is an extreme example. Just be aware that having too many short scenes can really ruin the flow of the story and take the reader out of it.
     
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  10. Anna100
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    Anna100 Member

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    I understand and completely see how it can be jarring and disturb the flow (but hopefully I'm not quite there). I don't know if this is linked with my trouble with pacing. Reading through some of my work, I do feel I might be jumping a bit too much. But it all comes down to, as you said, whether it's done well. Just finding that middle way, I guess.
     
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  11. KokoN
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    KokoN Active Member

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    I think short chapters and short scenes are different, which is it that you refer to, or are you annoyed by both? Also how long do you consider too short, out of curiosity?
     
  12. JD Anders
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    JD Anders Member

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    Yes, I agree that there is a distinction. I used that particular book as an extreme example, but it really has nothing to do with chapters at all. If a scene is 'too short,' I simply mean it doesn't give time for a reader to be properly immersed in it. That can look different depending on the story and pacing.

    I'm not sure anyone else is like this, but I am consciously aware of the act of reading when I do it. Basically, I know I am reading words on a page and processing them to try and create a scene. When that stops and I'm truly engrossed in a book is when the true pleasure of reading occurs for me. Therefore, if I am forced to constantly recalibrate and scene hop, I'm going to struggle to enjoy what I am reading and instead just be annoyed with the writing.
     
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  13. KokoN
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    KokoN Active Member

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    That makes sense! Thanks for clarifying. :) Definitely the writer's goal is to get the readers to forget they are reading.
     
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  14. ddavidv
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    ddavidv Contributing Member

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    As long as they need to be.
    I don't believe in following some sort of formula. There is a 'feel' to it.
     

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