1. staceylouise
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    staceylouise Active Member

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    Word count for first opening chapter

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by staceylouise, May 19, 2014.

    Hey guys, so I was wondering, is there any particular range of number of words for a first opening chapter of a novel?
    As I have just completed my first chapter and it comes to over 1,400 words, although it does have a prologue (which i know that some of you are for and some are against), so these words would count too, adding up to over 2,000 words. Do you feel that this is enough for the opening of a novel?
    By the way, my novel is in the erotica genre, aimed at young adults, particularly young woman, late teens I would say.
    Thanks in advance, Stacey
     
  2. obsidian_cicatrix
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    obsidian_cicatrix I ink, therefore I am. Contributor

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    Hmmm... dunno. I tend toward being long winded and the length of my chapters tends to reflect this. The one I'm working on right now is only the prelude to a sex scene and it's already three times the length of yours.

    I'm wondering if, like so many things, it comes down to a matter of personal preference and style. I'm sure someone will know more.
     
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  3. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    ...no... nor is there any 'right/wrong' or 'best/worst' number range for any subsequent chapters... patterson's are annoyingly short, clancy's and michener's cumbersomely long... anything goes, as long as enough readers don't mind and keep buying the books...

    ...answered above...
     
  4. staceylouise
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    staceylouise Active Member

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    Thanks. I've just word counted and my chapter 1 is 1,450 long and my prologue over 900. I guess I will just write them out as I see and feel fit to. :)
     
  5. obsidian_cicatrix
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    obsidian_cicatrix I ink, therefore I am. Contributor

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    I think my prologue is currently running at 14,000. Like I said....long-winded. ;)
     
  6. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    Maybe if you're writing for a certain age group - middle grade, ya, or new adult you could check out some similar books and see if there is any trend but I usually go by what sounds right.
     
  7. staceylouise
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    staceylouise Active Member

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    Thanks for all of your replies on here. Yes I'm just going to go with the flow and what feels best. Let my story and characters lead the way. Like I said I have included a prologue of about 900 words, but just read that someone's is at 14,000 and still going... Yet prologues are 50/50 as to whether they should be included or not and whether the reader will read or want to read before going straight to the actual book itself. I'd hate for someone to skip all of that. Maybe it should be labelled differently if it has to be there so the reader doesn't skip for sure.
    Thanks guys! Happy writing!!! X
     
  8. obsidian_cicatrix
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    obsidian_cicatrix I ink, therefore I am. Contributor

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    I've read the same, but I stand firm. They wanna skip it, go ahead, if they think they know my work better than I do. Ah well... their loss. It is 100% NOT an info dump. It is a short story in and of itself and marks the beginning of something that only finds fruition at a much later point. If someone wants to plough ahead without reading it, they are kinda missing the point. Personally, if someone would discriminate just because it's labelled prologue, they are not the kind of reader I'd want to attract. Now, if they were to stop reading it because it's written badly, that's an altogether different matter.

    The only person who gets to decide whether I have a prologue is me, and I'm something of a fan.

    A prologue it is, and a prologue it shall remain. And besides, the Prologue, three Act, and Epilogue set up is something of a classic. :D
     
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  9. staceylouise
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    staceylouise Active Member

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    :) you need to do what YOU feel is right and what feels it brings about to the book. I like a good prologue and can't understand why someone would want to skip it but then hey ho. Ive just finished my 2nd chapter and currently stands at over 4,000 words inc 900 words of prologue. :) so many ideas though I want to work on them all at once!!!!
     
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  10. Selbbin
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    Selbbin I hate you Contributor

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    I usually end at the end of a dramatic or emotional sequence, or with a defining statement. A natural point to take a break. I don't pay much attention to word count.
     
  11. Selbbin
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    Selbbin I hate you Contributor

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    Because generally if the prologue was that important or interesting it would be part of the body of the book. Prologues and epilogues are tacked on bits of additional information that may enhance the story but not detract. It's like a side serve of bread before a meal.
     
  12. TDFuhringer
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    TDFuhringer Contributing Member Contributor

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    My opening chapter in my current novel is almost 3000 words. But the story starts in medias res, no prologue, and the inciting incident happens on the second page.

    So to directly answer your question, I'd say the first chapter's word count should be exactly whatever it needs to be, and only you can determine that. There's nothing wrong with a long first chapter, or a short one, if it fits the story.
     
  13. Selbbin
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    Selbbin I hate you Contributor

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    Bukowski's opening chapter to Factotum is one page. His second chapter is one paragraph. Chapter 4 starts on page 3.
     
  14. captain kate
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    captain kate Active Member

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    What she said.
     
  15. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    welcome back, cap'n!... i've missed seeing you here... hugs, m
     
  16. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    Woo. You're starting to sound like me! :eek: I always treat a Prologue the same as any other chapter in a book I'm reading. I would expect my readers (and yours) to do the same. Actually I lie. I have a thing about the number 7, so I always skip Chapter 7 in every book that contains one. That's where a story ALWAYS gets boring, so why bother reading it? Time is fleeting...

    I'd say go for what works best for you, @staceylouise.
     
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  17. captain kate
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    captain kate Active Member

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    It was a drive-by visit, Maia. :)
     
  18. cutecat22
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    cutecat22 The Strange One Contributor

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    I totally agree!

    I have a prologue. It's set fourteen years in the past and "sets the scene" of a character that re-appears later in the book. It also kind of explains why some of the characters do what they do.

    I can understand some people not liking prologues though. I have read a couple of fiction books where the prologue simply explains the 'scientific or actual fact' behind the fictional story - something that doesn't appeal to me. I just want the story!
     
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  19. Blueshift
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    Blueshift Member

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    I tend to make every chapter around 3,000 words. I figure that would make it roughly ten pages per chapter, which feels like a good number.
     

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