1. Miller0700

    Miller0700 Contributor Contributor

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    Does chapter length matter?

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by Miller0700, Dec 4, 2016.

    When writing outlines for my stories I tend to make my chapter very long. I don't know why, but I think it because I don't want too many chapters and I want to feel like they move the plot forward effectively and I feel short chapters can't do this.
     
  2. antlad

    antlad Banned

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    I just talked about this in another thread.
    I feel it does, depending on what is being written, and how it is written. Shorter chapters can add movement.
    A funny thing about chapters in popular fiction is that they are growing, yet getting smaller. A lot of bestsellers are up to 60 chapters, but the book length is no longer than they used to be.
     
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  3. Cave Troll

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

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    IDK. I have seen chapters as short as 1-2 pages and as long as 20-30.
    Granted I opted out of the chapters thing with my novel and sequel,
    but they can be as long or as short as you need them to be.
     
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  4. Infel

    Infel Contributor Contributor

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    I agree with Cave Troll. Chapters should be exactly as long or short as they need to be. As a writer, you have basically complete freedom to do what you want as long as you do it well. Let your creativity dictate how something should be, and polish it from there!
     
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  5. izzybot

    izzybot Transhuman Autophage Contributor

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    I wanna say nope. As mentioned you can forego chapters entirely if you want. But I do think it's important to include breaks in some manner - doesn't have to be chapters, but line breaks with asterisks or octothorpes setting them apart is good enough. Just so there's a natural place for a reader to put the book down when they need to.

    Personally, while I was pantsing this novel, I went back to edit and realized I had a chapter that was almost 10k words. It had a couple breaks, but I decided that was too many and broke it into two or three (I forget now) chapters. But I also had one that was only about 400 words, which I believe I ended up integrating into another chapter. In this case it was because I wanted to aim for largely uniform-length chapters with self-contained arcs, and breaks inside them to fine-tune the pacing. If you feel your longer chapters are what works best for your pacing, I don't think there's any issue there.
     
  6. jannert

    jannert Retired Mod Supporter Contributor

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    Is this down to short attention span, do you reckon? I'm nervous about this sort of development. I don't have a problem with short chapters, if that's what the author needs to accurately convey the story, but I will object if this becomes 'the standard' all authors will be expected to adhere to, 'if they want to get published.' Once again, I have the sneaky suspicion that we're being herded into writing for people who would rather be doing something else besides reading.

    How many interruptions for adverts are there in TV shows? Scriptwriters for TV are expected to write little bitty blocks of action, separated by ad space. Of course with streaming you can now get shows which eliminate the ads, or you can buy the DVD version. But sitting and watching a show? It's one of the reasons I don't watch TV any more at all. I can't stand the lack of immersion, broken up by ads. I'm wondering if this fad for short chapters is because people are now used to this kind of broken-up experience.

    Just wondering. Am I getting too old for this shit, as they say?
     
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  7. antlad

    antlad Banned

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    Nah, you just gotta deal with it like everything else. Things change.
    I do have a feeling it has to do with 'skim' reading, and also the latest generation; miils tend to want more compartmentalization and labeling.
     
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  8. ToDandy

    ToDandy Senior Member

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    Chapter length has a lot to do with pacing.

    If you are wanting the novel to feel more like a fast paced page turner, shorter chapters may be a better thing to go for. It makes the readers feel like they're moving through the book at a faster pace than they really are.

    A Mid range chapter (3,000-5,000) is better for a more moderate pace where the writer can jump between slower scenes and faster scenes at their discretion.

    Longer chapters (6,000+) are usually used for much slower paced novels and you don't see this length as often because it can make a chapter feel unwieldy for a single sitting. Most commonly you'll find it in high fantasy, science fiction, and epic historical fiction.
     
    Last edited: Dec 6, 2016
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  9. johnmk

    johnmk New Member

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    is it a good idea, if you can, to end your chapters with some kind of cliffhanger
     
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  10. big soft moose

    big soft moose An Admoostrator Staff Supporter Contributor Community Volunteer

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    although may be not every chapter as that gets old for the reader really quickly . What is a good idea is to have some sort of scene transition from chapter to chapter so the reader isnt disorientated
     
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  11. Youssef Salameh

    Youssef Salameh Senior Member

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    Hi, in my opinion, the moral of the story is the most important thing.
    Sometimes a writer finds it essential to lengthen the chapter to put more details to his story to make it more obvious.
    However, some writers have a special talent to shorten it, being able to convey the idea, in as much few words as possible.
    Wish you all the best.
     

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