1. J.T. Woody

    J.T. Woody Creature of Quarantine Contributor

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    Chapters or No Chapters...... Why?

    Discussion in 'Novels' started by J.T. Woody, Apr 6, 2018.

    Just curious!

    I personally have read books with chapters and without (small handful without chapters). Chapters in books are just stopping points for me..... "ok, 1 more chapter before I go to bed!"
    Without chapters, there is no point for me to stop. I WONT stop, haha! It feels wrong to stop reading.

    I started out writing chapters, but as my ideas progressed and projects switched, I just faded away from "chapters." Maybe I'll add them when I'm done, maybe not.


    Do you like reading/writing chapters or no, and why?
     
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  2. Tenderiser

    Tenderiser Not a man or BayView

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    They don't affect my reading at all. If you don't have chapters, you have scene breaks for a natural stopping point.

    I do write with chapters, mostly because I use two POVs and I like having a chapter break between changes. It also helps break a manuscript down so it doesn't sound so daunting; easier to write 30 chapters of 3,000 words than 90,000 words, you know?
     
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  3. awkwarddragon

    awkwarddragon Member

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    I prefer reading chapters. I like structure in my readings and without a clear stopping/starting point, it gets all fuzzy and never-ending for me. Likewise, I prefer writing chapters - structure and organization is a must for me.
     
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  4. Cave Troll

    Cave Troll What do you mean, 'no more abductions'? :P Contributor

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    I do 3MC turn exchange with no chapters. Though I think I might get back into using them
    for everything else. Just on the first one (and it's sequel WIP) would have been too odd
    if it had chapters.

    Only read books with chapters, unless it is a collection of shorts. And shorts don't
    typically have chapters, but I have seen it happen on rare occasion.
     
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  5. GiveMeBackMyMagic

    GiveMeBackMyMagic Member

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    I like chapters, personally. It gives me 'permission' to stop reading when one comes to an end. Like you say, I won't stop reading! You could always write without chapters, and add them in later.
     
  6. Shenanigator

    Shenanigator Has the Vocabulary of a Well-Educated Sailor. Contributor

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    As a reader, I agree with you. Without a chapter break to stop me, I'll keep reading all night.

    As a writer, I hate them. I write very organically, without an outline, and I'm not good at writing chapters even in length. So currently I have a couple of " chapters" that are only a page or two. I may end up taking out all the "chapters" and just keep my date and place headings, letting them fall where they may. We'll see.
     
  7. KevinMcCormack

    KevinMcCormack Senior Member

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    I will look for the references, but I read a few analyses of what chapters do and don't do, how and when to use them in theory, and how they've changed over time...

    They are a pacing device. They also seem important to reduce confusion in stories where the POV character changes, to reduce the feeling of headhopping.

    The change to chapters over time that I remember specifically because it caught my attention: readers' environments and tools such as ebooks on smartphone screens seem to benefit from a larger quantity of smaller chapters, with fewer scenes or even one scene per, as more and more reading is consumed 'on the go,' which I took to mean commuting or in snippits while multitasking.
     
  8. John Calligan

    John Calligan Contributor Contributor

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    I write a lot of short chapters. I practically think in chapters. On a good day of writing I can get 2k words, so I’ll think about what happened, therefor, and write the new bit.
     
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  9. izzybot

    izzybot Transhuman Autophage Contributor

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    Chapters are very much stopping points for me, too (in writing as well as reading). I don't remember what it was, but at one point as a teen I just kept reading this book all night because there was nothing in it to remind me to stop, hahah.

    As long as there are breaks of some kind (demarcated with asterisks/octothorpes/etc) I don't think you actually need official chapter breaks, but I am rather put off by excessively long sections without some sort of break. I don't like to stop just anywhere.

    It's the same with writing -- I like to have a proper bookend so that when I get back to writing, it feels like starting fresh. Having to cut off in the middle of things sucks. But again, it can just be a regular break, not necessarily a chapter break. In the novella I'm working on at the moment, I haven't set things off as chapters, only used asterisks to separate the parts, but I do have a vague idea of which ones I'm going to turn into chapter breaks and which are going to be regular breaks.
     
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  10. Oxymaroon

    Oxymaroon Contributor Contributor

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    It depends on how the story flows. I often find that authors end and start chapters where I see no reason for it: the story just continues seamlessly.
    For me, the point of a chapter is to define a series of events as connected. If all the events follow both chronologically and thematically, there is no need for chapter breaks.
    On the other hand, if you change POV, have a flashback or switch the scene of action, a new chapter would signal this; help the reader change emotional gears.
    In any case, I think the author should have some evident rationale for parcelling the story.
     
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  11. John-Wayne

    John-Wayne Madman Extradinor Contributor

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    I like chapters because they give me an indication of place and allows for time time skips. :p
     
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  12. Homer Potvin

    Homer Potvin I've got no use for kale... Contributor

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    Not sure if it's related or not, but back in the day books were often serialized and published in installments in magazines. The reader would only get a piece at a time and that led to a natural rising and falling of action to keep each piece engaging. It's likely that had some effect on chapter theory, though I think the concept predates that by quite a bit.
     
  13. Cephus

    Cephus Senior Member

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    I use chapters for the reason the OP mentions, they give a natural stopping point for the reader. And while you might want to think that the reader should just keep going, that's not realistic when you've got a 400-500 page book. It won't be read in one sitting. So I have to give them a place where they have permission to stop for a while before coming back to it.
     
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  14. deadrats

    deadrats Contributor Contributor

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    Personally, I think novels need chapters. I'm a fan of super long chapters. Give me 50 pages or so at a time. But no chapters would drive me a little crazy. Super short chapters also drive me crazy. I'm reading a book right now that has something like 65 chapters and this is not a very long book. Still, I've wanted to read this one for a while. Just wish it had long chapters, probably so I can forget there are chapters. I'm pretty sure I'm contradicting myself a bit.
     
  15. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Contributor

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    As a reader, I don’t care either way. I’ve read both, and both worked fine. Go with your vision of the work, I say.
     
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  16. Rosacrvx

    Rosacrvx Contributor Contributor

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    Or the opposite. Reading on the bus/subway means that I stop reading when I arrive where I'm going. Moon Reader, the app I use to read in my phone, has a marker setting. It was strange for me at first but I got used to it. Chapters have less and less to do with my reading nowadays.
    That doesn't mean I don't notice them. They serve as "guidelines" as to what the story is trying to convey at that point. Only I don't follow those guidelines. Hopping from bus to train makes it impossible even if I wanted to.

    ETA: As for scene breaks in digital formats, sometimes I do the conversion from PDF to epub myself on some online converter and it doesn't get the formatting perfectly, so at some points I'm not even sure if there's a scene break or not. It doesn't stop me, though. I get the changing of POV/setting/time from the context.
     
    Last edited: Apr 8, 2018
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  17. TWErvin2

    TWErvin2 Contributor Contributor

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    I use chapters in my writing and I prefer chapters in my reading, but I am a pretty 'conventional' individual.

    As I see it, there probably should be a good reason that enhances the storytelling to eliminate use of chapters.

    Leafing through, a novel without chapters is one that I would be less inclined to give a try. There is always another dozen books to consider and I'll never have enough time to read them all. But maybe that's just me.
     
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  18. Wreybies

    Wreybies Thrice Retired Supporter Contributor

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    I'm pro-chapter.

    Why? Structure.

    Same reason I like spaces between words, which, btw, is not actually a must or universal. In Mandarin, Cantonese and Japanese, there are no spaces between words.

    Thoseculturesgetalongjustfinewiththeirlackofspacesbetweenwordsanditdoesn'tcausethemanystrife.

    But it's inarguably easier for a brain accustomed to spaces between words to actually get them when expected. ;)
     
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  19. Iain Aschendale

    Iain Aschendale Benevolent Ochlocrat Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I'm going to need to have chapters, since I plan to have two to three close third POVs, but right now I've just got everything in Scrivener bashed into one chapter, but separated by scenes (or partial scenes). That's more for my writing organization than how the book will be organized though, I need to be able to go back and edit without scrolling through tons of stuff, and I'm not sure what order the scenes will take place in, or even how fully chronological the book will be.
     
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  20. Cave Troll

    Cave Troll What do you mean, 'no more abductions'? :P Contributor

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    @Iain Aschendale it is going to fun to read it. Chapter 1, Chapter 9, Chapter 2 3/4....
    Yeah, it seems a little out of order. :p
     
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  21. Shenanigator

    Shenanigator Has the Vocabulary of a Well-Educated Sailor. Contributor

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    @Iain Aschendale You should let the resident dyslexic (me) do it and see what you end up with! :eek:o_O:rofl: ETA But maybe DJ @Cave Troll has that covered.

    Chapterz R good.;)
     
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  22. MusingWordsmith

    MusingWordsmith Shenanigan Master Contributor

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    Currently, I'm not writing with chapters. It would interrupt my flow to worry about adding them in at this point. However, I do plan to add them later. It seems a pretty standard thing, and I would want to be doing something specifically aimed at working better without chapters to break from that.
     
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  23. GlitterRain7

    GlitterRain7 Galaxy Girl Contributor

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    I prefer reading chapters. They sort of give me a guide of how long I should expect to be sitting there reading. I'm one of those people who cannot just stop mid-scene. It drives me crazy.
    As for writing, I've never tried writing without chapters. But I feel like having chapters makes it easier for there to be longer time lapses.
     
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  24. grimshawl

    grimshawl Member

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    I definitely prefer chapters as a reader and as a writer. to me they help organize a book and allow your mind to identify where you are in a story easier. Plue a well thought out and clever chapter title can add foreshadowing to each bit of story.
     
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  25. jannert

    jannert Who? Whooo? Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I not only like chapters a lot (and write them myself), but I prefer chapters with names rather than just numbers. As @grimshawl said, a good chapter title can provide a bit of foreshadowing.

    Chapters provide natural resting places. They also help you get re-oriented if you want to go back and double-check something. Chapter endings don't necessarily make me stop reading, however. In fact, a good chapter heading can make me read the next one ...and the next. I've read many books with chapters in one or two sittings.

    That said, if you prefer to organise and present your stories scene-by-scene, without any other breaks, then fire away. I will certainly read books with no chapters, as long as there are places to stop and rest. Mind you, that's what bookmarks are for, isn't it?
     

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