chapter question.

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chapter question.

Post by Crystal » January 17th, 2010, 10:49 pm

Do you think it's ok to have a 1500 word chapter if it is really powerful?

All of the previous chapters leading to this one are around 3000 words. But where this one starts, and where I feel there can be a powerful, cliff hanger, have to turn the page and start the next chapter, moment happens within a few hours of each other (story time) and well I feel if I make the chapter any longer it's going to be obvious I was "filling space".

So I was just wondering your thoughts on this. Thanks in advance.
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Re: chapter question.

Post by Nick » January 17th, 2010, 10:55 pm

"Power" or whatever really shouldn't factor into it. A chapter is however long a chapter needs to be. Honestly my chapters usually end somewhere been 7 and 9 pages, because that's where it tells me it's gonna stop. Just kind of the way the narrative works out. I've read books where chapters are a page (hell, Vampire Science had a chapter that was about two and a half paragraphs, although admittedly the rest of it was lengthy and all of it was wonderfully written). So if after 1500 words you think it's a fine place for the chapter to end, end it there.

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Re: chapter question.

Post by poptart » January 18th, 2010, 6:18 am

Yes, I'd agree. Don't feel limited by sticking to a consistent word length. If you need to end short for dramatic impact then do it.
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Re: chapter question.

Post by taylormillgirl » January 18th, 2010, 8:58 am

I have a couple incredibly short chapters. Make them only as long as they need to be. Like one of the previous posters said, many authors publish chapters that are only a paragraph or two in length.

ETA: I just checked, and my shortest chapter is 770 words. Pretty darn short!
Last edited by taylormillgirl on January 18th, 2010, 4:18 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: chapter question.

Post by shadow » January 18th, 2010, 3:01 pm

All my chapters are from 2000 to 5000 words. I cut them off when I need to. Go with the story and don't try to make your chapters any longer or any shorter than needed. OK?
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Re: chapter question.

Post by Jaime » January 18th, 2010, 6:34 pm

I never check my word count for each chapter. I have chapters that are 20 pages long, and some that are only four. They should be however long you need them to be to tell that part of the story. If you start rambling on you may lose momentum, and you'll only add to your overall word count (which might come back to bite you in the end!).

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Re: chapter question.

Post by CharleeVale » January 18th, 2010, 9:20 pm

I'll probably get some criticism for this, but my mss. is a rotating POV, and there is one point where I need to skip between all POV's quickly. (For which I do chapter divisions)

My shortest chapter is 70 words, so I am living proof that you don't need to worry about how long they are!


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Re: chapter question.

Post by Matera_the_Mad » January 18th, 2010, 9:55 pm

Yeek. I do separate scenes for POV changes that come that fast, because the reason they come fast is that the action all belongs in the same chapter. My chapters are variable, from probably 14-15 pages down to less than half that. Whatever they have to be.
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Re: chapter question.

Post by AAlicia88 » January 20th, 2010, 10:49 am

I'm still learning, the craft and about my writing style, but recently I discovered I prefer to writer shorter chapters. It's just my style. The novels in my personal library, varying in genre, have a wide ranged of chapter lengths. The book I'm reading now has no chapters in it at all. Do what works for you and what feels right for your story. Best of luck.

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Re: chapter question.

Post by tameson » January 20th, 2010, 11:42 am

I would be wary of having every chapter be the same length in general. If lengths are all similar, you risk becoming monotonous- similar to how you don't want all the same paragraph lengths or sentence lengths.

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Re: chapter question.

Post by LydiaSharp » January 21st, 2010, 1:27 pm

Chapter length has everything to do with structure and nothing to do with word count. I've seen chapters as brief as a single paragraph.
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Re: chapter question.

Post by lexcade » January 31st, 2010, 4:50 pm

chapters are as long as they need to be to complete the initial thought. don't worry about the style or the technique. just say what you need to say. (curse you, john mayer.)

the more you worry about style, the more the project suffers. so just focus on the story and your characters. when they're ready to move on to a new topic, they will.

hope that helps :)
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Re: chapter question.

Post by thndrcloud » February 7th, 2010, 10:12 am

Faulkner may have the shortest chapter on record in As I Lay Dying. One sentence, five words. "My mother is a fish."

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Re: chapter question.

Post by tameson » February 7th, 2010, 1:22 pm

Supposedly Orson Scott Card says every writer once in their career can have a chapter with just one word. Haven't used my one time up yet. :)

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Re: chapter question.

Post by Brian_H » February 11th, 2010, 5:06 pm

I am in agreement with everyone here; length of chapter should not be about word count.

To put it into perspective, I went through my two projects, and found the shortest and longest chapter in each.

book 1 - suspense 54k (14 chapters + prologue/epilogue)- shortest 1,004 words; longest 9,100. (Disclaimer: the long chapter is divided into two parts. It technically could be considered two chapters in that sense. So, if you choose to go that way, my longest would be a completely different chapter of 7,440 words.)

book 2 - suspense 93k (35 chapters + prologue/epilogue)- shortest 690 words; longest 6,934.

I for one enjoy shorter chapters when I'm reading a book for two reasons:
1. I feel like I'm really eating up the book and making progress.
2. I can find easy stopping points if I need to take a break or go do something else.

Not exactly intellectually profound I know, but hey; I'm a simpleton.
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