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Chapter lengths?

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by Blayze, Oct 19, 2011.

  1. Blayze

    Blayze Dreamer

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    OK This question comes as a result of looking at the showcase guidelines. My impression is that Showcase is intended for snippets of stories, less than 4000 words at a time, or even only 1000 words. My first chunk of story is about 32500 words, so as I am going to have to break it up for review purposes, can anyone tell me what is an average chapter length?

    Thanks
     
  2. Linqy

    Linqy Scribe

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    Well, in the few starts I've made on novels my chapters vary from 10 pages to 17 for the one I'm working on currently...
    (So yeah, I just posted the intro to my story in showcase, and that's only the first 3 pages.)

    It all sort of depends on how many chapters you want to have in the end (I usually prefer books with a max of 20 chapters just for clarity) so I guess 10/20 pages is normal then..

    Fun to see you're gonna post, I'll be sure to read and comment (if I have something useful to say XD)
     
  3. Blayze

    Blayze Dreamer

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    Might be an obvious question but roughly how many words/page? Thanks for your thoughts Linqy
     
  4. Linqy

    Linqy Scribe

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    Well, I'm writing in Times New Roman 12pt. spaced at 1.5 lines (or something). And with that I average at about 500/600 words per page.

    But keep in mind I'm a starter myself and have NO clue if this is a good standard ;)
     
  5. IDK I have seen chapters that were two pages long, and others that were 50 pages... I guess that is up to you.
     
  6. mythique890

    mythique890 Sage

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    When I write I aim for 3,000-4,000 word chapters, because I like to write a chapter at a time and that's about how far I can get in one sitting (if, by some miracle, I am uninterrupted).

    I think I said this in another thread, and it's very possible I'm wrong, but I think it's considered standard for a manuscript to have about 250 words per page (Courier New or Courier Dark, 12pt, double spaced). Published works vary like crazy, so how many words per page you'll end up with in a printed format depends on the font, size, and spacing your publisher chooses.

    Oh, and I agree with Blue Lotus. Dan Brown, for example, tends to have very, very short chapters. I can't think of an author with long chapters, but I know I've read some books that didn't have any. I kind of found that annoying because there weren't many natural stopping places and it was harder to keep track of where I was if I lost my place (page numbers and book marks make too much sense to use :p).
     
    Last edited: Oct 19, 2011
  7. Blayze

    Blayze Dreamer

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    Thanks for the feedback, I guess I was just trying to work out how many pages I would get out of say 4000 words. Not important I know. I do think I will definitely use chapters, maybe 10 - 20 pages at a time which I gather i perhaps 2500-5000 words. I know when I read a book I normally try to finish a chapter when I need to stop reading, and for that reason I find very long chapters annoying.
     
  8. JCFarnham

    JCFarnham Auror

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    Mythique is absolutely correct about the standard manuscript format. If we go by that (250 words/page, 12pt Courier New, etc., etc.) and take it that the average chapter is around 20 pages in this format, you'll want to write about 5000 I guess.

    Of course the better thing to do would be to break for a new chapter as per the tone of your book. In a thriller you may want to break at a particularly cliff-hanger-y point. In fact.. I would do that in any work of any genre. Your aim is to keep people reading and ending the chapter at such a point is by far the easiest way to do that.

    If all else is too complicated, do what feels right to you. End your chapters where you would like the chapter to end if you were reading it. I mean you did say you dislike long chapters so ^^
     
  9. Angharad

    Angharad Troubadour

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    I don't think there is really an average chapter length. Some are very short, others very long. I'm finding that the chapters in my current WIP are on the short side, about 1100-1400 words. I'm not aiming for any particular length, that is just how they are turning out, coming to a natural stopping point.
     
  10. I have the most radical suggestion of all! write and refine until you feel the chapter is complete.
     
  11. Shorter chapters mean more places for a reader to stop, which I find a good thing myself. Longer chapters mean stopping in the middle or at a scene break. There is no right or wrong to it really, but most chapters should end with something to convince the reader if they do put the book down to come back to read more.

    I personally shoot for around three to four thousand words in a chapter. Of course, if the story I'm writing doesn't really have any logical breaks that fit that structure, I go with what seems logical.
     
  12. Queengilda

    Queengilda Dreamer

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    I definitely have to agree with Rheadin. You need to write until you feel your sequence is ready to move into the next sequence. But remember to follow JDFarnham and leaving the reader wanting to read on. I tend to try to write a sequence at one sitting, and then come back and refine and re-write it until I'm happy with it. Then that chapter is finished and I move on to the next sequence.
     
  13. Blayze

    Blayze Dreamer

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    Thanks everyone, I think i have more of an idea now.
     
  14. Johnny Cosmo

    Johnny Cosmo Inkling

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    I like to read short chapters (3000 words or so), but I'd prefer to end a chapter where it feels right when I'm writing.
     
  15. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

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    It doesn't matter how long the chapters are, whatever is right for the development of your story. With the exception of the first couple chapters, I do prefer it as a reader when the chapter lengths are roughly consistent, though. Otherwise the longer chapters will start to feel like they drag on.

    One thing I would say is to make sure that a short chapter isn't simply the result of rushing through the material too quickly. If your chapters are short you should step back, consider what might be missing from the work, and try to flush it out. I don't think I've seen many stories which made good use of consistently short chapters, although it is something I hope to do myself.
     
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