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Chapters-Long or Short?

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Chapters-Long or Short?

Post  Shahira on Mon Feb 14, 2011 3:01 pm

How long are your chapters usually? Are they lengthy or choppy & short?
Why are they that length?

When I wrote my novel during NaNoWriMo I just kept writing & writing, not marking chapters so now that I need to do that, I just wanted your opinions on it. Smile
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Re: Chapters-Long or Short?

Post  Mayaah on Mon Feb 14, 2011 3:29 pm

Lol! Yeah, I don't really care what my chapter lengths are. I don't think there's a limit to how long and short, how many words or pages, a chapter should be. To me, a chapter begins at a certain spot and ends in a certain spot, and I don't know how I determine that time when I say, "Okay, time to end a chapter and start a new one", because it just feels right.
So I'd say don't worry about how long a chapter should be. I've seen chapters span for a good portion of the book and I've seen a chapter be a couple sentences. Just stop when you're finished with a scene or whenever it feels right.
Regarding my chapters, they can be all sizes. Usually they're about 2K-3K words, though, but I've had some below 1K and some above 10K.
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Re: Chapters-Long or Short?

Post  Amanda on Mon Feb 14, 2011 5:31 pm

I'm kind of OCD, so each chapter is between 5.7k and 5.2k for my current project, with 2-4 scenes per chapter. And each scene must be 1000 words or more--I've found that this is a great way to make sure the scene is necessary, because if I can't devote 1k to it, it's not complex enough to need a scene of its own. But my new project, on the back burner, is averaging around 2-3k per chapter, and it's a first draft, so I'm being less picky about the word count. Smile
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Re: Chapters-Long or Short?

Post  Matthew on Mon Feb 14, 2011 6:38 pm

I prefer shorter chapters because. When I read, I don't like stopping mid-chapter. My chapters were generally 3K each, but I've since cut them down to 1.5K each.
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Re: Chapters-Long or Short?

Post  Maggie on Mon Feb 14, 2011 7:05 pm

@Mayaah, same about not caring. I let the chapter tell itself and end it when it's a good chapter ending. Usually they end up being anywhere from 1,500-2,500 words. I'm not picky. Smile

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Re: Chapters-Long or Short?

Post  Shahira on Tue Feb 15, 2011 10:57 am

@Mayaah & Lizzy I think once I edit more the chapters will just mark themselves. Like you said, Mayaah, you just kind of feel like that's where the scene or chapter should end.

@Amanda That seems like a good way to distribute chapters. Smile It's seems more organized. Too bad, I'm all scattered & everywhere so I can't do organized lol.

@Scribbler I'm definitely with you on that one. While reading, I prefer shorter chapters so I can easily find a place to stop. I really don't like stopping mid-chapter.

Thanks everyone for your opinions. Smile
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Re: Chapters-Long or Short?

Post  Sarah on Tue Feb 15, 2011 9:58 pm

To me, each chapter is a scene (and of course each sence fits together) but I just write the scene out from beginning to end and sometimes a chapter for me has been twelve pages (single spaced) and sometimes only three. But, recently I keep my chapters around 3-5k about only 6-7 pages long. For me it's really just when you think a chapter should begin or end.
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Re: Chapters-Long or Short?

Post  Shahira on Wed Feb 16, 2011 12:05 am

Yeah once you're writing I guess it's easier to break apart the novel into chapters. I think the more I edit, the more the chapters will show themselves. Smile
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Re: Chapters-Long or Short?

Post  Sarah on Wed Feb 16, 2011 10:37 am

Yes, that will probably happen, I had like 15 chapters once and by the end of the edits it had been broken into 18 chapters Smile
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Re: Chapters-Long or Short?

Post  AWriterGoneMad on Sat Feb 19, 2011 12:41 am

You're all going to laugh at me (except Lizzy, I think). My chapters are 3 pages each, double-spaced, Times New Roman. You could say that my OCD trickles over into my writing, or just that I do it that way because it flows better. Smile (Both are true.)

When I'm published and everything is single-spaced, everything is going to be so short and quick. I might even get the nickname "Pint-Sized Patterson," after James Patterson, who also writes in very short chapters. LOL. Razz
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Re: Chapters-Long or Short?

Post  Shahira on Sat Feb 19, 2011 2:02 am

@Sarah Good thing you got the chapters all figured out(so far) lol. Smile

@AWriterGoneMad I actually think that is pretty dang cool. I think short chapters are awesome. When I was reading Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater(great novel, by the way), I really liked how short her chapters were. Plus she wrote from both the guy & the girls point of view which was really cool too.
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Re: Chapters-Long or Short?

Post  Renée on Sat Feb 19, 2011 3:02 am

I don't have a very definitive opinion on chapter length. For my WIP, all of the chapters end on the sixth page. I didn't plan it that way, it just happened, which I thought was pretty cool. (Then again, my subconscious might be forcing OCD back on me. Ahh! I told you to go away!)

I wasn't a huge fan of the James Patterson chapters. Once, there was just a paragraph, and if I remember correctly, he had at least one one-sentence chapter. Really? I mean, it was good for separating action beats--the stops were never awkward per se. But for me, it degraded the meaning of having a chapter, making them more like scene or paragraph breaks. I don't know. It's probably just me.

Then again, I don't like my chapters too long. By long, I mean past the place where it would break well, just to end on a cliffhanger. It gives me no place to stop, so I find the next convenient paragraph and stop mid-chapter, which makes it hard to find my place again. (I have a hard time using bookmarks…maybe Kindle would be good for me. Very Happy)
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