Author Advice Pt. 12

So… one thing I’ve always struggled with is how long each chapter should be. A few paragraphs, a few pages, what?

The definition from Webster:

Full Definition of CHAPTER

1

a :  a main division of a book

b :  something resembling a chapter in being a significant specified unit <a new chapter in my life>

2

a :  a regular meeting of the canons of a cathedral or collegiate church or of the members of a religious house

b :  the body of canons of a cathedral or collegiate church

3
:  a local branch of an organization
Wonderful… well that’s helpful… So how do we gauge how long a chapter should be? Well for starters, I’d honestly say if your chapter is less than a page long, it’s too short.
Chapters seem to be relative to the overall length of the book; longer books, longer chapters. So a book that has only 80k-90k words could understandably have chapters that are 2-3 pages long. Whereas books that are over 200k could feasibly have 10-20 pages between chapters.
So with that established, when then do we start a new chapter or just use a marker to show that we’re switching locations or passing time?
Honestly… there is no set rule, but I try to stick to my self-imposed criteria:
Minor passage of time (hours): Time Marker
Change of perspective (moving to different characters): Time Marker
Significant time passage (1 or more days), but remaining in the same place or situation: Time marker.
Major Event: Chapter
Significant Time Passage, Change of Perspective: Chapter
Any passage of time/Change of Perspective following a change of location or circumstance: Chapter
Again, remember, these are my own self-imposed rules, so don’t worry if this isn’t how you do it. I post this simply as a guide to help anyone stuck on whether or not they should start a new chapter. Hope this helps!
Thanks Friends,
Catch you on the flip side,
Jim
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8 thoughts on “Author Advice Pt. 12

  1. nananoyz says:

    I personally like a chapter to end on the verge of a discovery. Length matters not, it’s the urge to keep the pages turning that’s important.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Jin Okubo says:

    As long as it takes for a dog`s legs to reach the ground.

    Like

  3. I don’t have a set page count or system for ending chapters. My chapters tend to be long, and they end when I get to the point that feels like where they should end. Not very scientific, I’m afraid, but that’s what seems to work for me.

    Like

  4. I agree that length doesn’t matter. Split the chapter when, as you said, a major event or shift in focus happens.

    Like

  5. bwhite21 says:

    Thank you for stopping by my blog and liking my review of “Lowland”. Frankly, it was not one of my better reviews, but I appreciate it as I would not otherwise have noticed your blog. Love the graphics on your blog. I also could not resist commenting about this topic.

    I am a reader and not a writer, so I offer this from the former perspective. While I am an avid reader I don’t like long chapters (or no chapters at all). I agree with you about chapters of less than a page being too short (although see my review of “The Book of Duels” which is very creative in form and content). I do make exceptions, as evidenced by my recent review of “Orfeo”, which has no chapters (and is an interesting but challenging read for non-musicians). I doubt that I am alone in my preference, so there is a commercial aspect to the length of chapters. Length I know is psychological because you can break from reading without chapters, but I think long chapters may lead to less readers. If you read in an urban environment while commuting, finishing a chapter gives the reader a feeling of accomplishment and makes the work more readable.Excessively long books may present the same problem (although “Luminaries” and “The Goldfinch”, and some real classics- which those aren’t- might disprove my viewpoint to some extent).

    Like

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