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Chapter too long

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by Taniwha, Apr 3, 2020.

  1. Taniwha

    Taniwha Scribe

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    Hi Folk,
    I've just received my book back from my editor. I appreciate the feedback she has given me but she mentioned 2 of my chapters were too long. Each of my 'chapters' is like a story in itself so I'm confused about how a chapter can be 'too long'.
    How do I make a chapter smaller?
     
  2. Insolent Lad

    Insolent Lad Inkling

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    It kind of depends on whether she thinks the narrative needs to be tightened up and rewritten with fewer words (which I would suspect) or whether she just feels it's of an unwieldy length. In which case you find a good breaking point and make it two chapters. Even if it is one story. :)
     
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  3. The Dark One

    The Dark One Archmage

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    We would need a lot more information to make sense in your particular case, but I've never been fussed about chapter length as a thing to worry about. If the chapter works - it works. It's all about narrative flow - not meeting some quota on story chunks.
     
    Taniwha likes this.
  4. Taniwha

    Taniwha Scribe

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    I kinda thought the same - I'll do a reread and see how I feel then :)
     
  5. Ned Marcus

    Ned Marcus Sage

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    How long were the chapters?
     
  6. Taniwha

    Taniwha Scribe

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    1 was just under 17,000 words and the other was 22,000
     
  7. Taniwha

    Taniwha Scribe

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    yes and yes to the idea of breaking up the chapters - sub-chapters maybe :)
     
  8. A. E. Lowan

    A. E. Lowan Forum Mom Leadership

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    My longest chapters usually run about 4000 words, but I'm also known for short, punchy chapters. 22k is pretty long, but as long as it's doing its job - moving the story forward and not info-barfing in huge chunks - then you're probably fine. I would touch base with your editor and ask what their thoughts were on the chapters being "too long." Do they drag? Is there a ton of unneeded description? And most importantly, do they move the story forward?
     
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  9. Taniwha

    Taniwha Scribe

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    Good questions - thank you
     
  10. ThinkerX

    ThinkerX Myth Weaver

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    In my multi-volume 'Empire' series I have chapters ranging from as short as 300 words to well over 12,000, with the norm being 2000-400, each told from a single POV.
     
  11. WickGreenwood

    WickGreenwood Dreamer

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    Another question to add to this: how important is it for the chapters of a book to be relatively the same length?
     
  12. Ned Marcus

    Ned Marcus Sage

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    Those are long chapters. Personally, I've benefited from cutting the length of my chapters. I used to write 3,000-7,000 word chapters, but now keep them down to 1,000-3,500 (roughly). This allows me to create better hooks to pull the readers into the next chapter.

    I prefer to keep chapters to a similar length, but they don't have to be the same length.

    When writing a story you can do anything you want as long as it works. So the question is, does it work? You might need some time away from the story to really know that. But if the editor is good, then she might be worth listening to.
     
  13. The Dark One

    The Dark One Archmage

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    For me, not at all.

    It's all about narrative flow and chapters can serve a heap of different purposes depending on the story.

    If you are asking: are my chapters too long? What you're really asking is: is my narrative flow getting lost or buried under a mountain of detail, false paths and info dump?
     
  14. A. E. Lowan

    A. E. Lowan Forum Mom Leadership

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    Not at all, in my opinion. I've had chapters that were 200 words (yes, they're getting shorter :p ) and some that were 4000. Writing is like music. Some pieces will be longer than others. Let the words flow naturally.
     
  15. K.S. Crooks

    K.S. Crooks Inkling

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    I plan my stories by determining the major plot events that will take place. I then make one or two occur in their own chapter. Depending on your story a change could be going to another room; change in perspective, or the addition/removal of a major character to a situation. For example if you have a group of marines in a battle with mercenaries and the second in command of the unit is killed it may be time to start a new chapter. Generally a major change in location, perspective or circumstance is a good reason to start a new chapter.

    As for chapter length it varies depending on amount of content for the situation and personal preference. I’m sure you’ve read books that have a new chapter every 4-5 pages and others that may go 25-30. More action or many parties and locations involved may lend to shorter chapters. While discussions, long journeys and scenes with high emotions may have longer chapters. But there really is no set method. Find what feels natural to you and don’t be afraid to experiment or change ideas.
     
  16. Demesnedenoir

    Demesnedenoir Istar

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    The “stories unto themselves” throws me. In general I wouldn’t do 22k chapters unless you have “ * * * ” breaks in there, LOL. And of course target audience matters. But, anything can work. I personally vary from 1-10k, but tend to average 3k-ish. I think my 207k book had 68 chapters, or basically 3k per chapter.
     
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