1. Kratos
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    Kratos Contributing Member

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    Writing Problem

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Kratos, Jun 3, 2008.

    I'm not sure if this is a problem per se, but most of my chapters are about 1100-1500 words in length. I'd like to increase that, but it's pretty hard. I know it's quality and not quantity that really matters, but I'd like to have a bigger book. Should I add more description? Dialogue? Any advice is appreciated.
     
  2. chad.sims2
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    chad.sims2 Contributing Member

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    Depends on who is your target audiance really. If your writing to the young side of young adults like "A Series of Unfortunate events" Those might just be perfect. Young readers have a shorter attention span usually.
    I would say if it's an older young adult or older than that then definatly longer but i couldn't say how unless i saw a couple paragraphs. My freind had that problem and i looked over his work and realized he just didn't put any detail into anything and took one of his chapters streatched it eaisily to 3 thousand and gave it back to him to rewrite using what i changed as a base so that he could make the work his again.
     
  3. Kratos
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    Kratos Contributing Member

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    I'm writing for more of the young adult-adult audience. My story is called Darkenhall, and is in the novel section.
     
  4. jps117
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    jps117 Member

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    I don't think the chapter breaks really matter. It's the length of the full story that really meets the audience's eye.

    Something you do need to pay attention to though, is consistency in the length of each chapter in comparison to another chapter in the story.
     
  5. garza33
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    garza33 Active Member

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    Shouldn't the chapter end when you come to the end of the chapter? I'm not a fiction writer, but I have always been a very heavy reader and I see chapters of all different lengths spread through many novels. The writer has a specific plot development to go in that chapter and when that's accomplished we move on to the next chapter. So to me it's content and not the number of pages that determines when the chapter ends.
     
  6. MumblingSage
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    MumblingSage Contributing Member

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    If you really want to expand, add more details. It can be character description. It can be little actions. It can be semi-pertiant thoughts. Just make them interesting and important if you want to add them.

    That, or you can fashion an entirely new subplot if you want a lot of padding.

    But if that's how your story is going to be, and it works that way, don't force-feed the thing. Some readers like short works.
     
  7. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Instead of adding details, add more conflicts. Padding out the descriptions can slow the pace of the story.

    Of course, adding conflicts is how you generate subplots, but it can also be used to complicate and existing plot.
     
  8. NaCl
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    NaCl Contributing Member Contributor

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    Your question is one I struggled with in my current novel. I decided to treat each chapter as a mini-story with a clear beginning, middle and end. The only condition I imposed was that all chapters must advance the overall storyline. When the book was done, I had several chapters with over thrity five pages and a couple with fewer than twelve. The average was around twenty-two. But, I was satisfied that every chapter accomplished it's goal in evolving the overall plot.

    Variable chapter lengths...right or wrong? I don't know, but none of my proof-readers commented about the issue so I suspect they work. I think you should simply write the entire story without worrying about chapter lengths. When you begin the re-write process, chapters will jump out at you if they need additional material, but you can't really judge until the story is done.

    .....NaCl
     
  9. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    no one can answer that for you, without reading what you've written... and why do you think you need to make them any longer?... if your ms is too short to be a novel for the market you're targeting [adult/YA], just padding the chapters arbitrarily won't help...

    if it's way too short, then maybe it's not enough of a story for a novel...

    if it's just a bit short [say, 70k, when 80-100 would be best] then you need to see what it's lacking in wording, or if a subplot's not fleshed out enough...
     
  10. DavidGil
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    DavidGil Senior Member

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    The whole thing about watching your chapter length and comparing it to the others in your work shouldn't be considered in my view. Chapters either run the length of the whole book or are as small as containing one word (awkwardly worded I know). Or anywhere in between.

    I can read a King book where a chapter is half a paragraph, one 10 pages say and one 40 pages or so. Like with sentence structure, they vary.

    What matters:

    You end the chapter when it feels right, however short or long that may be. It's a good idea to have a chapter dedicated to one part of the book yes and then move onto another chapter once that part is done.

    I used to have that problem as well in thinking my chapters are too short by the way. Nowadays I just say screw it, I'll write what I think is correct.

    Of course, all this doesn't mean much without seeing your work like mentioned above. Really, it's just general advice that could be applied to questions asking about chapter length.
     
  11. Lucy E.
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    Lucy E. Contributing Member

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    As DavidGil said, end the chapter where it feels right. If your book meets the minimum length required or expected by your target audience, don't aim for a longer book.
    If it's any consolation, one book became a bestseller a few years ago, and it was only 92 pages long.
     
  12. Kratos
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    Kratos Contributing Member

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    Thanks everyone, for the all the advice. I'm just going to focus on my story's length, not necessarily the chapters. :cool:
     
  13. Mousie
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    Mousie Contributing Member

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    It doesn't matter how long it is, does it? I mean, as long as you tell the story and everything, it shouldn't really matter. Night was super-short, but it told you the whole story and everything. But maybe I'm wrong...
     
  14. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    what book was that?... is it fiction?... are you referring to richard bach's books that are usually very short, starting with the classic 'jonathan livingston seagull' which is 112 pgs in its latest incarnation?... if so, that's an anomaly for more than length, so doesn't really help in re the average novel...
     
  15. Scribe Rewan
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    Scribe Rewan Contributing Member

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    And if you can't increase the length and it's really bugging you (which it shouldnt- everyoen on here is right) then why not just get rid of chapters all together? Just seperate important parts of the story with asterisks. Or something. It doesnt have to have chapters at all, if it makes things easier for you.
     
  16. Rumpole40k
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    Rumpole40k Banned

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    Stay away from adding more descriptions for the sake of lengthening a chapter. It usually ends up killing the story's flow and most readers will just dismiss it as filler anyway.
     

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