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Reginald Gordon
February 4th, 2006, 12:27 PM
I may be asking you folks some questions over the next few days, and here are the first two that come to mind.

(1) When growing up, I had always read books that were thick with long chapters, so they only had about 10-15 different chapters, which could range from 20-40 pages each. My own writing style, however, I've found that I tend to break chapters up pretty frequently. The novel I'm currently working on has 20,000 words, and it is already 8 chapters long, so approximately 2,500 word apiece, which by older standards, seems pretty short.

I guess the question I have is this: How much importance is placed on chapter length? Am I doing something wrong?

(2) How important is it for a chapter to be self-contained? In some chapters, I only have one thing happening for the entire length of it. In others, however, I can have multiple things happen. Sometimes, those things are interrelated, other times they aren't. I have one chapter where, halfway through, there is a dream sequence/flashback that fills the rest of the chapter.

To summarize this question: How much content is one chapter expected to have, and how narrow or wide must that content be?

While it's true that I'm writing for my own enjoyment, I'm a Dungeon Master at heart, so I always want my stories to immerse other people.

Thank you in advance.

choppy
February 4th, 2006, 12:52 PM
I'm not sure there are any hard and fast rules. I've noticed that most of the newer books that I read tend to have shorter chapers and I think this is due to the fact that peoples' reading habits have changed slightly. You don't have as many people willing to sit down for four hours at a time to go through half a book. Instead they are replaced by readers who read during their commute, while they're kids are out at activities, during breaks at work or between stuff they're doing at home.

I tend to look for natural suspenseful breaks in the story for chapter breaks. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn't. I also use changes in point of viewl. One thing I try to avoid is the POV character "blacking out" - it's a little cliche in my opinion.

One of my writing friends thinks of his stories in "movements" (musical not bowel) rather than chapters.

Arinth
February 4th, 2006, 02:13 PM
I personally don't think that chapter length is a big deal. I have read books where the chapters as at least as short as yours. I personally like ending the chapter in suspence whenever possible. There are many times when as a reader I tell myself I will stop once I finish the chapter and realize sometime later that I've read five more because the end of each chapter makes me want to read it more. When I do actually stop at the end of a chapter, the story stays in my head longer. I am more eager to return to it and see whats happening. There also doesn't sound to be anything wrong with your chapter content either. Of course this is all IMHO.

tordot
February 4th, 2006, 02:18 PM
If your natural style is to write short chapters then stick with it. There's no point forcing yourself doing what doesn't come naturally. I try not to worry about what other writers are doing cos I can't write like anyone else no matter how hard I try. Follow your instincts and narrative voice and see where it takes you.

Reginald Gordon
February 4th, 2006, 04:31 PM
Thank you for all the answers, it relieves me greatly to hear this.

I was wondering, is there some way to share a portion of my work here to actually give an idea of what I'm talking about in my second question? I'm very skeptical about sharing my work with people that I don't know, but at the same time, I'm more serious about this work than I have anything I've done prior, and I could use all the assistance I can get.

I'm not very familiar with the other forums on this board, so if you could point me in the right direction, I'd appreciate it. I also don't want to just toss myself into anyone's laps, seeing as I'm a new member here and want to earn everyone's respect. The last thing I want to do is make a bad impression.

I'm going to shut up now, and go back to work. Thanks again. :)

tordot
February 4th, 2006, 04:51 PM
Go to the homepage of this site and check out the story/poem section. Area allows you to upload your work for others to review.

Reginald Gordon
February 4th, 2006, 10:55 PM
Go to the homepage of this site and check out the story/poem section. Area allows you to upload your work for others to review.

Thank you very much, I posted the first three chapters there, they can be found under 'James, M. Bryan'. I think the third chapter would be an example of my 2nd question in this thread, as it darts from one thing to another halfway through.

KatG
February 4th, 2006, 11:49 PM
You've already had your questions answered, but I'll just put in:

1) No, you are not doing something wrong. It doesn't matter how long or short your chapters are.

2) It doesn't matter in the least whether your chapters are self-contained.

Reginald Gordon
February 5th, 2006, 12:36 AM
You've already had your questions answered, but I'll just put in:

1) No, you are not doing something wrong. It doesn't matter how long or short your chapters are.

2) It doesn't matter in the least whether your chapters are self-contained.

I will never see any input/criticism as too much, I thank you for your insight.

gibran
February 5th, 2006, 01:27 AM
gordon,i say u r the master of ur pen,u just follow it wherever it takes u,does not matter if the journey is long or short,b urself,go with the natural flow of ur writing!