View Full Version : Chapter Length
August 11th, 2007, 12:13 PM
I was wondering whilst writing my most recent story what is the general length of a chapter for everyone else. I know that there are no set guidlines for how long one should be but on average what size do you think benefits the story.
Incidently are there anythings to do with length that annoy you (such as when they start a new chapter for three paragraphs)
August 11th, 2007, 06:00 PM
My chapters tend to run long enough to finish making the point. Usually, this takes two scenes, each scene from a different character's POV. On the other hand, I have one story that the chapters last only one scene because there is only one POV character.
Just feels right to me.
When I'm reading, I don't care how long or short the chapters are. Chapter length has no bearing on my interest level. I care only that the story moves along, the characters are worrth caring about, and the writing works. If any of these falter, I will put the book away and begin a new one.
August 11th, 2007, 08:49 PM
One of the main uses for chapter endings, IMO, is to ratchet up your reader's interest. While they can be used to conclude an action or a plot point, another way to approach it is to have your chapters end on a cliffhanger, or at least on unresolved plot points. In that way your readers are left wanting more - and hopefully you've then achieved a real "page-turner" as a result. In that context, then, chapter endings are driven more by story considerations than with regard to length.
August 11th, 2007, 09:28 PM
The best chapter endings are the ones which leave me asking "What happens next?" and even better when the next chapter doesn't answer that question. Or at least not right away.
I agree length is not the first consideration, but I do hate those monster, novelette sized, half the book chapters toward the end when you have to know what happens, but you can't find a good place to stop and rest for a moment.
Power to the J
August 12th, 2007, 01:12 AM
Usually my chappies run all the way from 4 to 9 thousand words, and I try to end each at a cliffhanger.
August 12th, 2007, 03:09 PM
My shortest chapter is 5,260 words. My longest is 13,640.
On average they're about 12,000 words.
Yeesh, I write long chapters.
August 12th, 2007, 04:29 PM
I wouldn't say large chapter are a bad thing, whatever helps your story. What I was getting at was some authors seem to use small chapter as simple info dumps. For example a bit of information they think just has to be told before the plot continues so they create a chapter just to tell us.
Aren't there some authors who don't use chapters at all?
Power to the J
August 12th, 2007, 05:17 PM
Some authors do have no chapters. THE ROAD by Cormac McCarthy is one.
Takoren: my longest is 18,489 words. That being said, they have lots of breaks & scene changes. THAT gets me mad; long chapters with no breaks a la the early WoT books.
August 12th, 2007, 07:05 PM
My long chapter has many scene and point-of-view changes. There was a resolution I felt had to come before I switched chapters.
PtotheJ, I gotta say, that's an insanely long chapter.
My biggest pet peeve with chapters is when they go on FOREVER, and yet tell you next to NOTHING. By the way, I'm not saying that's what you've done, PtotheJ, but many authors I've read are guilty of that. Fifty pages go by, and all the characters have done is travelled and set up camp, or something like that. Not even any important conversations go by, nor do they run into anything important during their travel.
I try to make each chapter count. I do describe quite a bit, but I do not feel that endless travel, or endless ANYTHING, is useful. All we need to know is that they're on the road. I don't need to go on and on about how the camp is set up or whatever, just to prove that I know how midievel camps worked.
Power to the J
August 12th, 2007, 10:52 PM
Yeah I agree Takoren. Too many writers are guilty of it, too.
Btw, the insanely long chapter was so long because alot needed to happen; in the climax, several mc's scattered throughout a battlefield, while one mc is being tortured, another is looking for a mole in a secret organization, and another is trying to stop a takeover in the political world. I made it long so I could end with a cliffhanger, as I said I like to do.
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