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Mock
November 29th, 2005, 05:00 PM
I know this is silly, and there's probably already been a thread about it, but: How long--on average--are your chapters? Me, I'm trying desperately to extend mine while maintaining decent writing. I'm only at around 4,000-5,000 words. Blah.

By the way, do you use Microsoft Word?

Mage-

Dawnstorm
November 29th, 2005, 05:23 PM
The shortest chapter I've ever read consisted of one word and a punctuation mark (I think it was a question mark).

Somtimes chapters are of (roughly) uniform length, throughout a book. Sometimes most are of (roughly) uniform length, while some are considerably longer or shorter than the average. Sometimes (Terry Pratchett is a popular example) there are no chapters at all.

I have never finished a novel, though I have attempted a few. Since "chapterising" the story is one of the last things I'd do, I have no idea how long my chapters would be.

One question I have to ask, though, is: why are you desperate to extend your chapters? Short chapters are perfectly fine with me. In the end, it's about structure.

How long are your sentences? Paragraphs? Scenes?

Mock
November 29th, 2005, 05:36 PM
Meh. Desperate is the wrong word, now that I think about it. But I am trying to make them a bit more . . . uniform . . . My lengths sort of sling about, and I'm trying to avoid having chapters where nothing happens. I've noticed that that tends to happen much more often in my shorter ones. I go as far as looking over the chapter and making sure it has a beginning, a middle, and an end--whether it's a cliffhanger or a finisher--with plenty of exceptions. Almost like a book.

Not that I need it to be long in order to do that, but one of my major problems (as an amateur writer at age 13) is that I get writer's block and I'll drop a story and move on to another one. And I think a lot of that, for me, is because I put in too many unnecessary SHORT chapters early on in a story, and I don't advance the plot efficiently.

Casey's Pen
November 29th, 2005, 06:28 PM
Meh. Desperate is the wrong word, now that I think about it. But I am trying to make them a bit more . . . uniform . . . My lengths sort of sling about, and I'm trying to avoid having chapters where nothing happens. I've noticed that that tends to happen much more often in my shorter ones. I go as far as looking over the chapter and making sure it has a beginning, a middle, and an end--whether it's a cliffhanger or a finisher--with plenty of exceptions. Almost like a book.

I am reading a Dean Koontz novel now where the chapters range from several pages long to little more than a page.

Length does not matter as much as purpose. A chapter can be effectively used to mark an entire scene, to change point of view, or to feature flashbacks. They can also be a means of breaking long scenes up into manageable bites. However, if the chapter does not serve a purpose, then combining it with another or adding to it doesn't serve much purpose either, other than filler. Publishers aren't very fond of filler.

Worry more about getting through with the writing than the length of the chapters. That said, if this is to be an ebook, I did read somewhere that the average online readers attention span is quite short, as in 500-2k words short. Perhaps that is a more reasonable chapter length goal if you must set one.

Good luck! It is great to see you taking on such a daunting task so young! I know my teenager couldn't do it. :)

Mock
November 29th, 2005, 06:45 PM
Thanks for all the advice. I'll do my best to put it to good use, as I'm halfway through a chapter--prologue--right now . . . ;)

Mage-

KatG
November 29th, 2005, 08:29 PM
Articulate 13-year-olds are allowed to ask silly questions. Actually, everybody is allowed to ask silly questions and then we get to give you silly answers, you see.

My chapters right now are about 30 pages of manuscript. But within those chapters are scene breaks, indicated by several blank lines, that then make up the parts of the chapters. If I wanted to do so, I could use those scene breaks to serve as the end of chapters, and double or triple the number of chapters I have without changing any of the text.

What you may be doing is writing scenes, which quite often vary in length, and then declaring each scene to be a chapter. There's nothing wrong with that, but if you feel it's uneven, then you could look at combining some of the short chapters into bigger ones with scene breaks.

If you find you're getting bored with what you are writing, you might want to try some short fiction instead of a novel, and see if that length works better for you at the moment.

JRMurdock
November 29th, 2005, 09:17 PM
I'm taking the Dan Brown approach. Rather than do scene breaks, do short chapters. I find it keeps my interest in my own writing when I nkow a chapter will be between 1000-2500 words. When I get done with a scene, I jump to a new chapter, but I try to put something in to keep the read desperate to come back and rad more.

It's a psychological thing for me. When I pick up a book, I'll look and see how long it the next chapter. If it's short, I'll read it in a few minutes. If it's long, I won't read it and often a book will lie for a long time before I get back to it (case in point, Tad Williams MS&T Trilogy).

Stephen King did something I found interesting with the Dark Tower series by doing chapters by he broke up the scene breaks with numbers and for me that was a psychological kicker to get me to read it faster.

But it's all up to the author. I know there are books with NO chapters just endless writing. There's books with long chapters, short chapters and medium chapters. It's all about what feels right for you. What keeps you writing.

Write on!

MrBF1V3
November 30th, 2005, 12:59 AM
I generally go to a new chapter when I change the scene, or the point of view. Most of the time I end up with chapter length from 2000 to 3500 words, occasionally more.

And I use Word Perfect, it came with the computer.

My 12 year old draws, she's a better illustrator than I'll ever be. (ON the other hand, I never had an interest in drawing horses or fairies.)

B5

James Barclay
November 30th, 2005, 03:47 AM
A chapter, like a book, will find its own length. The consensus on this thread is that it doesn't matter how long a chapter is as long as it gets the desired point across. I completely agree with that.

The danger of trying to regularise (if that's really a word) your chapter lengths is that you add padding for the sake of symmetry. Bad idea. Write what you need to and no more. Could be one word. Could be 10,000.

Yes, I use microsoft word. A fine word processor.

NOM

Mock
November 30th, 2005, 06:30 AM
I use breaks sometimes. At the most, I have maybe 3 per chapter. I usually reserve them for breaking off character1 and going to character2, rather than just going on to explain what happens to character1 a few hours/days after his/her scene.

NOM, that's what I meant by trying to keep decent writing. I don't run on when I should have ended the chapter.

Thanks for all the advice.