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Author Topic: Chapters  (Read 1537 times)

Offline Roelor

Chapters
« on: April 27, 2016, 04:01:32 PM »
Hey guys,

I only started writing recently and finally finished some of the sequences I was looking forward to write.
Now my question to you is:

How long are most of your chapters?
I have written 1 chapter now, and its over 11k words.
Do you think this is too much for 1 chapter and will discourage the reader?
Or should I not care and just write it till I am satisfied?


Offline CameronJohnston

Re: Chapters
« Reply #1 on: April 27, 2016, 04:22:57 PM »
Well, I think 11k is probably too much for a single chapter. Ideally I think you want between 3k and 7kish. But you can always just plow on and sort pacing issues/chapters stuff later. It's the story and characters and writing that will make it good, not shorter chapters (though I do think some kind of reading fatigue does set in with bigger chapters).

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Offline Lanko

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Re: Chapters
« Reply #2 on: April 27, 2016, 04:25:06 PM »
For now, just keep writing it until you are satisfied.

We can say "each story has its own beat", but I feel 11k is very, very long. I wouldn't go above 5k per chapter, and depending what that chapter is about, it may still feel like forever to read through it.

To have an estimation, most of Game of Thrones chapters have around 4k-5k words per chapter. Some more, some less.

But like I said, for now just keep writing. You can separate and create/edit chapter endings or cliffhangers later.
Slow and steady wins the race.

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Offline SugoiMe

Re: Chapters
« Reply #3 on: April 27, 2016, 05:20:20 PM »
Yeah, 11K is pretty long. But like Lanko and Cameron said, finish the thing first before you worry about chapter divisions. The important thing is to get a first draft out at the preliminary writing stage.
"And then the time came when the risk it took to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom." - Anais Nin

Offline CryptofCthulhu

Re: Chapters
« Reply #4 on: April 27, 2016, 05:32:28 PM »
Write the chapter at the full length and then read it back and see how it feels. You might find a sweet spot where  it's best to wrap things up at and get ready for the next chapter.
“Silence is only frightening to people who are compulsively verbalizing.” ~ William S. Boroughs

Offline Roelor

Re: Chapters
« Reply #5 on: April 27, 2016, 05:41:52 PM »
Thanks everyone.

I'll just keep at it indeed. I do have places where I can split it up, not a problem.
It's just that I am in a writing spree lately and later realize that it might be a bit much.

I'll just keep at it indeed, thanks

Offline Lu Kudzoza

Re: Chapters
« Reply #6 on: April 27, 2016, 11:51:35 PM »
At 11k, I'd ask myself if there is too much of an info dump, back story, or world building you're trying to do in the first chapter.

The first chapter or prologue should connect to your target audience as fast as possible via a connection to the character(s), action, setting, event, or whatever your target audience likes. Look at your work as a reader would and see if you're delivering what they want.

If you're certain you've written something that will connect to readers enough that they want to keep reading to find out more then don't worry about the length. Use as many words as needed... no more, no less.

Offline jefGoelz

Re: Chapters
« Reply #7 on: April 28, 2016, 04:21:45 AM »
I believe that most chapters should be between 1K and 7.5K, the length of a short story, but there is nothing inherently wrong with a chapter that consists of one word or 25K words.

Offline marshall_lamour

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Chapters
« Reply #8 on: April 28, 2016, 03:27:21 PM »
I find that I have a tendency to write longer chapters, but 8k would be pushing it for me. The first part (three chapters) of my current novel doesn't go over 5k (or at least not by much if I recall). Don't cut it down just for the sake of it, but I would say that it's a good bet that you could either split it up or trim it down if maybe you're unloading too much all at once. Think forward a bit and see if there's something that might be better kept close to the chest.

For reference, people have made available analyses of various SFF works for chapter length ranges and averages. I would utilize a notion of those when thinking critically about your own work.
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Offline Phoenix

Re: Chapters
« Reply #9 on: April 28, 2016, 04:18:45 PM »
Hey guys,

I only started writing recently and finally finished some of the sequences I was looking forward to write.
Now my question to you is:

How long are most of your chapters?
I have written 1 chapter now, and its over 11k words.
Do you think this is too much for 1 chapter and will discourage the reader?
Or should I not care and just write it till I am satisfied?
It really doesnt matter how long your chapters are, as long as it is consistent. I personally write each chapter between 5-6k words. I think you should just go on and write it and then look back and cull some pages out that you don't like.
"My death shall spark a war, and from the ashes of the battlefield I shall be reborn"

Offline Roelor

Re: Chapters
« Reply #10 on: April 28, 2016, 04:26:06 PM »
I like nothing that I write first off :D
That would leave me with nothing hahhaa..


Offline cupiscent

Re: Chapters
« Reply #11 on: April 29, 2016, 12:15:41 AM »
The best advice I have is: a chapter should be as long as it should be.

That is totally unhelpful though! :)

I would certainly say that in first draft, don't worry about it. Write. Get it all down. Worry about breaking it up later. When it comes time to worry about it, there are a number of ways to approach it. You can go the "chapters all about x length, find a good breaking-off point around there". You can break it up wherever feels right without worrying about how long it's been - and that's fine. I've read and enjoyed books with chapters that varied in length from 20 pages to 3 words. (And that three-word chapter was a very effective chapter!) Or you can not break it up at all. Terry Pratchett almost never has any kind of separation beyond scene breaks, and it's fine.

Personally, I find my chapters come more or less organically from my planning process, inasmuch as I plan out major beats of the story (say, ten major plot/turning points to the whole novel, each leading into the next) and each of those becomes a chapter. I know the chapter is done when I've achieved the plot beat. Usually each plot beat takes around 3 or 4 scenes to achieve, and my scenes tend to be around 1-2k words, so I end up with chapters around 3-6k words. But that's just the way I go.

When it comes right down to it, how you chapter your story is like how you slice a cake. It has some superficial impact on the presentation of the story, but it doesn't really change how much the consumer enjoys it. :)

Offline CryptofCthulhu

Re: Chapters
« Reply #12 on: April 29, 2016, 01:49:11 PM »
In the end it either works or it doesn't. The only way to find out is to experiment and learn from your victories and mistakes. Don't forget you are developing a skill set.  ;)
“Silence is only frightening to people who are compulsively verbalizing.” ~ William S. Boroughs

Offline cupiscent

Re: Chapters
« Reply #13 on: May 17, 2016, 12:58:54 AM »
Just found this on my morning blog-crawl, so I thought I'd add it to this discussion for posterity: Building blocks of a novel: chapters (some things to think about when structuring chapters)