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  1. Bakkerbaard

    Bakkerbaard Contributor Contributor

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    Chapter Length

    Discussion in 'Novels' started by Bakkerbaard, Apr 14, 2020.

    I tried it in the search bar, "chapter length", but that doesn't quite narrow it down enough.
    I'm having a look over what I've scribbled so far and I'm wondering about what constitutes a chapter. And what the length of it should be.

    My first "chapter" is only three pages, where I've got other chapters of five and just finished one of seven pages. Based on actual books I've read, chapters are usually round about the same length, but I've got a problem with padding too much already and at some point I've said what needed to be said.

    I understand that seven pages (Google doc style, standard 11 point font) is probably still not very much, but I'm still trying to find some sort of balance between inane word vomit and relevant information.
    I guess I'm just wondering if there's some sort of standard chapter protocol.

    And if there is, how the hell do you people adhere to it?
     
  2. Xoic

    Xoic Prognosticator of Arcana Ridiculosum Contributor

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    There was a thread maybe a couple of weeks ago about this. Apparently it's the kind of thing that divides people, like pantsing and plotting. Some like chapters to all be close to the same length (including some publishers). I'm in the camp that believes each chapter finds its own form and length. I'll have a few chapters no more than a page or a paragraph if that's all it takes, and some of 10 or 20 or 30 pages.
     
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  3. Bakkerbaard

    Bakkerbaard Contributor Contributor

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    Yeah, same camp here. though the idea of a thirty page chapter is a mere dream to me.

    I tried to find a thread like you mentioned, thought I looked hard enough. I suppose if this is more of the same, a moderator can kill off this thread.
     
  4. Cave Troll

    Cave Troll It's Coffee O'clock everywhere. Contributor

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    From what I gather based upon my writing group,
    1-3K is about the standard, but you can set them
    as long/short as you want/need them to be. :)
     
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  5. Aaron Smith

    Aaron Smith Banned Contributor

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    Chapters should be as long as they need to be. Ideally a chapter should present a conflict and somewhat resolve it, with the intent of furthering the story and plot. Additionally, a single chapter can be split off into sub-chapters if needed to sustain a logical narrative, e.g. you have multiple viewpoints or jumps in location or similar.

    Some authors use chapters as a piss-break for the reader. That can be okay at times, but that is where I would use a sub chapter since the conflict of the chapter is still unresolved.
     
  6. Not the Territory

    Not the Territory Contributor Contributor

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    There's no protocol I'm aware of. It's a largely intuitive thing.

    Personally, I'm not a fan of the new 3-page average chapter that's the current modern trend. It seems as though some authors only allow a single scene per chapter.

    I like it when a new chapter is a big deal. To me, those big bold letters should indicate a change in purpose or tone that's superior to the variances at scene level.
     
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  7. Bakkerbaard

    Bakkerbaard Contributor Contributor

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    I suppose I should know this, but what exactly is a sub-chapter? Sounds like something I could use.

    I would like to clarify that I'm not doing three page chapters on purpose, I just run out of stuff to say. I'd rather see something more substantial as well.
     
  8. Aaron Smith

    Aaron Smith Banned Contributor

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    Not sure if it is official nomenclature. Sometimes you will find an author who labels certain paragraph 1, 2, 3, etc. within a chapter. Sometimes a symbol is used and sometimes a paragraph is used.
     
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  9. Bakkerbaard

    Bakkerbaard Contributor Contributor

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    Oh yeah. I've ssen that once or twice. No idea what it's called either.
    In that case, no. I don't think that's for me.
     
  10. The Dapper Hooligan

    The Dapper Hooligan (V) ( ;,,;) (v) Contributor

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    I think you might be referring to a scene. You can change perspective or location within a chapter as long as they're related in some way, thematically or otherwise. Chapters can be used to indicate larger changes, but are usually used more to control pacing than anything, so I wouldn't worry too hard about them until you've got a good working draft to build off of.

    Yeah, if you stick around long enough, you'll see them pop up around once a month or so. The search function here works kind of differently, but at least you tried.
     
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  11. Yaldabaoth

    Yaldabaoth Member

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    Speaking from my own experience I make my chapters as long as they need to be to get across what I created in my outline.

    So some end up in the 3k word mark and others go on to be twice or maybe thrice as long.
     
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  12. marshipan

    marshipan Contributor Contributor

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    Mine generally end up around 2,000 words but can vary from 1,200 to 5,000.
     
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  13. DK3654

    DK3654 Almost a Productive Member of Society Contributor

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    I've been doing chapters mainly based on pacing, but also trying to end each chapter on a significant note. My story has multiple main POV characters with independent but frequently overlapping storylines. Because I've got multiple independent storylines, I want regular scenes from each of the different POVs, but because they're significantly overlapping, it would be weird to have whole separate chapters from them in the manner of something like A Song of Ice and Fire. So my chapters have all got multiple scenes from multiple POVs.
    As a result, there's never really one particular plot point or thematic point to it, instead, it's more like checking in with everybody, where each character will have their own little resolution. Currently, my average chapter is more than 5,000 words, so definitely on the longer end, I think. This works to provide room for each of my main POV characters to have at least one scene each chapter while also allowing room for flexibility, which fits how I write my scenes for this story.

    I'd say go with what feels natural for your story, personally.
     
    Last edited: Apr 15, 2020
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  14. Dogberry's Watch

    Dogberry's Watch Contributor Contributor

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    I was just talking about this issue the other day with someone. I realized my idea of a chapter was 6000+ words. That's uhhhh... That's a lot. And it makes sense when I'd say j was on chapter six and people would comment how short the book was, hahaha.

    I'm going to just go with the standard, if it feels done it's done answer because really, at the end of the day, you're the one telling the story and if a chapter needs to take three pages? It takes three pages. As long as the story gets told, I think format should be at the discretion of the author.
     
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  15. Bakkerbaard

    Bakkerbaard Contributor Contributor

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    Seems 3000 words is about the hot spot. Wonder why that is.

    So, yeah. Go with what feels right.
    Sometimes it feels writing is just like archery. If it's in the 10, it doesn't really matter where you nock it.

    Thanks!
     
  16. Dogberry's Watch

    Dogberry's Watch Contributor Contributor

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    Don't nock it till you've tried it?

    I'll go, sorry.
     
  17. Bakkerbaard

    Bakkerbaard Contributor Contributor

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    I'd agree with you, but my shooting wasn't very straight either, so my analogy wasn't quite water tight.
     
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  18. The Dapper Hooligan

    The Dapper Hooligan (V) ( ;,,;) (v) Contributor

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    If you were shooting it, it's no wonder it sprung a leak.
     
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  19. Bakkerbaard

    Bakkerbaard Contributor Contributor

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    Not with my shooting. ;o)
     
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