1. MightierThanTheSword
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    MightierThanTheSword Member

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    Long-windedness.

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by MightierThanTheSword, Sep 15, 2008.

    I saw a topic about short chapters recently, and it brought the question of the opposite matter to mind. This one hits particularly close to home for me, because I tend to write very long chapters.

    How long is too long, when it comes to a manuscript? Should certain things be cut simply for length issues? How many words are generally in one chapter?

    Lastly, if you have a bad habit of being long-winded, how int he world do you break it?
     
  2. JonRhodesUK
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    JonRhodesUK New Member

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    Think about what you are trying to achieve in your writing. If you are trying to write something that is energetic and aimed at the young, then long chapters are a definite no-no. Most people's attention spans are surprisingly short, so bear that in mind. However longer chapters can be appropriate. Think about your target audience and what you are trying to achieve.
     
  3. Acglaphotis
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    Acglaphotis Contributing Member

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    Hmmm, this is really not an issue that can be responded to in a satisfactory manner, simply because it's your book. I, personally, don't mind the length of the chapters while the content is good.
     
  4. Last1Left
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    Last1Left Active Member

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    I like long chapters, and a long book for that matter. But, if you're writing in circles or drawing everything out, then you're going to grate on your readers' nerves.

    I used to be horribly long-winded when I wrote. No simple sentences in a whole chapter, and I completely abused the comma and the semicolon. One of my paragraphs would be heavy enough to kill a baby turtle (that's an interesting metaphor...). I fixed my problem though by writing a bunch of short stories. I focused on being really concise, as well as showing not telling. After about ten or so, I went back to work on my main story. Everything after that was much better to say the least.

    That was how I solved my problem anyways, so it might or might not work for you.
     
  5. tehuti88
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    tehuti88 Contributing Member

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    My stories run very long mostly because I deal with so many characters, I believe. I don't mind the length of my stories and if other people do, then that's their problem. I never claimed I was writing short fiction. Obviously I'm not writing for publication.

    That being said, focusing on fewer characters, and omitting subplots, might help keep things shorter. Also a more restricted POV because I often get closely into the heads of all my different characters, focusing on their personal thoughts/observations, and this too can make a story longer.

    It all depends on your style and what you're trying to say, though. But publishers supposedly don't like long things. One reason why I'm not bothering with them. *shrug*
     
  6. soujiroseta
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    soujiroseta Senior Member Contributor

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    i usually write short chapters but ive seen that chapter length varies from author to author, i mean you can see great authors like Nicholas Monsarrat writing seemingly endless chapters, thats his style, the same way someone like James Patterson like the really short chapter, its his style. if you feel the compulsion to write long chapters, do so as long as they are not passages telling things. Show is better than tell
     
  7. mmorsepfd
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    mmorsepfd Member

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    If you are trying to be published there is no room for longwindedness. Every word counts, there are no wasted words. It's amazing how much of a manuscript can be deleted during second and third drafts. As for chapters it doesn't matter how long they are as long as they continue moving the story along. Three or mors short stagnant chapters kill a story just as quickly as one long one.

    If you are writing for practice or enjoyment, write away as long as you have time. That is when writing is actually fun!
     
  8. AnonyMouse
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    AnonyMouse Contributing Member Contributor

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    Time flies when you're having fun. You can write them as lengthy as you want, so long as things don't stagnate.
     
  9. TWErvin2
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    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think the first thing to do would be to get through the manuscript...get the first draft written and on paper.

    Then, with respect to the chapter length...if they seem too long, then you can select shere a scene break takes place and start the next scene as a new chapter, for example.

    As far as long winded...get everything down. Then go back and edit, cutting or shortening, or reducing redundancy, eliminating unnecessary information, etc.

    Worrying over chapter length and wordiness, while a concern, could be more effectively addressed once you have the entire piece to consider and revise.

    Terry
     
  10. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    there's no such thing, word-/page-wise... too long or too short depends only on what works well for most readers, not any arbitrary number or average... if the majority of bookbuyers can't read the chapters comfortably and enjoy the book as a result, then they're too short/long merely in re 'effectiveness' which may or may not have a thing to do with how well they're written... basically, the best-written work will be reader-friendly regardless of chapter length...

    no!... see above...

    there is no 'general'!... successful books' chapters run from 1-2 pages up to major double-digits...

    by not doing it!... there's no magic formula... the problem could be with overly wordy sentences, or too much extraneous detail crammed into everything, or showing off one's use of a thesaurus, or any number of other causes... either you have to be able to pinpoint what you're doing that doesn't work, or you need to have someone who's knowledgeable do it for you... then you simply have to stop doing it... period...
     
  11. architectus
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    architectus Banned

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    I don't think the length of chapters is all that important, if the pacing is nice. But long scenes might be a problem.

    As far as how to work around being long winded, try writing flash fiction. Flash fiction is a short story consisting of 500-1000 words. They really force you to choose your words, details, sentences well.

    Also practice writing a few stories of 100 words.
     
  12. ParanormalWriter
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    ParanormalWriter Contributing Member

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    These days, I prefer to go with shorter chapters. I have a problem with getting long-winded, so I'm training myself to cut the extra nonsense and stick to the point. Done that way, books and chapters alike are about half the length my stuff used to be. :)
     

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