1. mad_hatter
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    mad_hatter Active Member

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    How Many Words In A Chapter

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by mad_hatter, Jul 20, 2015.

    I know, I know. How long is a piece of string, right?

    But, is 10,000 words too much for a chapter? Particularly one where little action happens, as it's mainly being used to introduce characters?

    In my outline, I had listed 3 chapters, but, as they all take place in the same location, immediately after each other, I feel as though I need to combine them. I can't find a natural break to start a new chapter!

    I still plan to break the chapter, just not with a new chapter heading. But, from the perspective of a reader, does 10,000 words (my predicted word count) seen too long?
     
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  2. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    If the scene continues on making it hard to separate them you could split them on a dramatic statement. I've seen someone do this on another sight and it worked out quite well cause you couldn't wait to see what happened next.

    How many pages is 10,000 words? It sounds long. Your genre is horror right? That feels a bit long for horror.
     
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  3. mad_hatter
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    mad_hatter Active Member

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    Yep, horror. And very little would actually happen in this scene. It's certainly a problem...

    I don't exactly get what you mean by "...on a dramatic statement." Could you elaborate?
     
  4. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    Do you spend 10 000 words introducing characters? I'm by no means an expert, but I think to some, that might be a little too long. I mean, for an average novel, that is about 1/8 of the novel. Maybe you could sneak in some of or all that info along the way instead? Piece by piece? Especially if nothing crucial actually happens in that chapter...?
     
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  5. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    My book is a long one, so I have several chapters that are this length. I also have several that are considerably shorter. And one that is even longer yet ...and it's my Prologue. I break all the rules.

    You know what? I don't care. I make sure each chapter is a separate story-within-a-story, and this works for me. I don't spend time counting chapter lengths in books I'm reading, so it's not an important issue for me. But then, I'm not writing (or reading) genre fiction.

    If you're writing genre fiction, you probably should pay attention to this kind of thing—although I hate to think people are artificially skewing their story progression just to fit some requirement. But hey. That's the kind of deal you take on, when you write genre fiction. It's a trade-off, isn't it? You trade off the right to do anything you damn please in your story, in order to make it easier to sell to agents/publishers/the public. So if chapter length is a requirement for your genre, you'll need to adhere to it.

    If one of your chapters is way too long, you should find some way to draw a mini-conclusion in the middle of it, then resume the theme in the next chapter. It's what I'd try to do, anyway.
     
    Last edited: Jul 21, 2015
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  6. mad_hatter
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    mad_hatter Active Member

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    So I've been thinking about it. Of the 3 chapters I was planning to combine, the middle one was introducing a character who really isn't integral to the plot. In fact, they'd only make a fleeting appearance once later in the novel. I think I can pretty much cut that character altogether. With a bit of chopping and changing, I think I can amalgamate the two remaining chapters into one of around 5,000 words. I'm happy with that number.
     
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  7. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Sounds like a plan.
     
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  8. KJRooRoo
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    KJRooRoo New Member

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    I'm a big reader, but I've only started out trying to write myself, so I can't really help from an authoring point of view. From a readers perspective, though, I can say that I prefer shorter chapters. I even quite like chapters that end on a cliffhanger. A shorter chapter tends to keep me engrossed, whereas a longer chapter tends to make me a bit bored, as if I have to really try and concentrate and work on being a reader. I don't want to have to do that - I want to lose myself in the book and not feel like it's a chore. Maybe that's a strange way of describing it, but it's just the way I see it.
     
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  9. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    Chapters usually come from scene changes, or locations changes ( not always that's where *** comes in ). But if a scene goes on for twenty pages another option is to create a dramatic moment or use a dramatic moment that can create a natural break. Say a couple is traveling in a car, you need them in that car talking and observing for twenty pages - no natural breaks are coming till they stop at a motel. Look possibly to action and dialogue or you can even create it to make a break -
    i.e.
    "I spy with my little eye -"
    "I'm not playing that stupid game again, Evan."
    "Getting stir crazy?" He glanced sideways at her, smiling. "Two more hours to go. A thousand cactus' to pass."
    She twisted her wedding ring on her finger and sighed. "I haven't had an orgasm in years."
    END CHAPTER
    START NEW CHAPTER.
    Evan kept cool. It was bullshit. She was trying to pick a fight. - Not the best example lol. But you get the idea. If I was at home I could probably pull a book off a shelf and give you an experts example.
     
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