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Modern romance story word counts per chapter


W_L

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I don't think I am the first guy to do this, but could not recall, who came up with the notion to compress word counts per chapter to parallel modern communications.

 

We live in a modern world filled with texts, emails, and blogs that are usually short, expressive, and do not go into every detail of life. When conveying my story, I wanted to reflect that compression of time and length into a shorten story with short chapters based on word counts.

 

Looking around GA's recent new chapters, I know most people write longer chapters; Cia story was 7K in length for her date ( :D ), Mark's story is set in the past but usually three times my length, and TheEggman lengths are nearly 20 times mine. Sasha Distan is probably the closest in word count to me, but she centers on fantasy fiction, not modern fiction.

 

I've got two questions:

 

1. Is there a length specification or average for modern romance fiction with an emphasis on technological connections?

 

2. Are there any writers, who write modern fiction as I am starting to do?

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hey W-L my chapter only last 1k I like short straight to the point chapter, so my stories are probably the shortest on the site, and I also write modern fiction. Also I don't care how long my chapter are I write until I feel the chapter needs closing.

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I would use published fiction as a better guide on how long or short chapters are. But even there, it's inconsistent. I've seen Stephen King do a one-page chapter for effect, and then go for 20 pages in the next one. 

 

Me, I usually wind up somewhere between 6000 words and 8000 words, and it seems to be about right. 19-20 chapters seems to tell the story -- at least it has for my last 3 novels -- and it doesn't feel too wordy to me. 

 

But: I'm not a fan of using emails, texts, tweets, IMs, or anything like that very often in stories. To me, stuff like that smacks me as a gimmick that takes you out of the story. I don't have a problem with communications being mentioned as a sideline, like a character grimaces when he sees an angry text from his ex or something like that. Once in awhile is fine; line after line of back-and-forth texted dialogue makes me wince. 

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hey W-L my chapter only last 1k I like short straight to the point chapter, so my stories are probably the shortest on the site, and I also write modern fiction. Also I don't care how long my chapter are I write until I feel the chapter needs closing.

 

 

Thanks for making me feel less lonely writing like this! I was worried that people would think I am short-handing the story.

 

 

I would use published fiction as a better guide on how long or short chapters are. But even there, it's inconsistent. I've seen Stephen King do a one-page chapter for effect, and then go for 20 pages in the next one. 

 

Me, I usually wind up somewhere between 6000 words and 8000 words, and it seems to be about right. 19-20 chapters seems to tell the story -- at least it has for my last 3 novels -- and it doesn't feel too wordy to me. 

 

But: I'm not a fan of using emails, texts, tweets, IMs, or anything like that very often in stories. To me, stuff like that smacks me as a gimmick that takes you out of the story. I don't have a problem with communications being mentioned as a sideline, like a character grimaces when he sees an angry text from his ex or something like that. Once in awhile is fine; line after line of back-and-forth texted dialogue makes me wince. 

 

Maybe the modern communication type style is more a 21st century concept, I guess. For me, I grew up on classic story structure with a lot of words and details, so it's a radical departure to write a blog/text format within a story. Symbolically, I thought it was a fun concept to use the medium of communication I use in reference within a story.

 

Based on readership, I guess more GA readers prefer the classic long form over the modern short form.

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Good question.  When I'm writing a chapter, I usually use 5000 words as a minimum.  If I go way below that, it's time to consider shifting something from the next sequence into the chapter (or vice versa).

 

By the way, that tends to be my guide for chapters no matter what kind of story I'm writing.

Edited by Mark Arbour
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Good question.  When I'm writing a chapter, I usually use 5000 words as a minimum.  If I go way below that, it's time to consider shifting something from the next sequence into the chapter (or vice versa).

 

By the way, that tends to be my guide for chapters no matter what kind of story I'm writing.

 

 

As a fan plug: Odyssey is a good read though and you don't feel like it's 5K+ (I don't comment much on your writing Mark, but you do an excellent job and I do read it).

 

Just out of curiosity Mark, have you ever tried compressing details in your stories?

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Good question.  When I'm writing a chapter, I usually use 5000 words as a minimum.  If I go way below that, it's time to consider shifting something from the next sequence into the chapter (or vice versa).

 

Yep, I think this is good advice. 5000 words would be a short chapter to me, though I've gone to as much as 9000-10,000 words for special occasions, mainly moments where I don't want to break the chapter on a scene change for purposes of structure and keeping things moving quickly. 

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As a fan plug: Odyssey is a good read though and you don't feel like it's 5K+ (I don't comment much on your writing Mark, but you do an excellent job and I do read it).

 

Just out of curiosity Mark, have you ever tried compressing details in your stories?

 

Thanks for the plug, and for reading.  :worship:

 

Compressing details?  I usually get crap for not putting enough of them in.  I really think that blend is important though, searching for that nirvana of giving the reader enough to stimulate their own imagination.  Too little, and they can't get there; too much, and you drown out their own image with yours.

Edited by Mark Arbour
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I find myself kind of in the middle on this. I tend to aim for 3000 words per chapter when I write. Sometimes I end up at around 4000, sometimes I go a little below and end up at about 2800. It's very unusual for me to write a 5000 word chapter, though it's not unheard of.

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I don't think I am the first guy to do this, but could not recall, who came up with the notion to compress word counts per chapter to parallel modern communications.

 

We live in a modern world filled with texts, emails, and blogs that are usually short, expressive, and do not go into every detail of life. When conveying my story, I wanted to reflect that compression of time and length into a shorten story with short chapters based on word counts.

 

Looking around GA's recent new chapters, I know most people write longer chapters; Cia story was 7K in length for her date ( :D ), Mark's story is set in the past but usually three times my length, and TheEggman lengths are nearly 20 times mine. Sasha Distan is probably the closest in word count to me, but she centers on fantasy fiction, not modern fiction.

 

I've got two questions:

 

1. Is there a length specification or average for modern romance fiction with an emphasis on technological connections?

 

2. Are there any writers, who write modern fiction as I am starting to do?

 

1) Sasha Distan in not a "she"

2) I write a lot on non fantasy actually. most of my stories here modern romantic fiction, no fantasy elements.

 

3)i write chapter lengths that feel natural to me. each story has different length chapters. Born Wolf for instance had chapters of at least 11k, whereas for Unexpected Liasons they only have to to be 1.3k

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Thanks for making me feel less lonely writing like this! I was worried that people would think I am short-handing the story.

 

 

 

Maybe the modern communication type style is more a 21st century concept, I guess. For me, I grew up on classic story structure with a lot of words and details, so it's a radical departure to write a blog/text format within a story. Symbolically, I thought it was a fun concept to use the medium of communication I use in reference within a story.

 

Based on readership, I guess more GA readers prefer the classic long form over the modern short form.

 

As for chapter lengths, this is as variable as the book. Some books have no chapters. Faulkner has the one-word chapter. Patterson has his 2 page chapters.  I'm reading a YA romance, Eleanor and Park, given its narrative structure of alternating pov, some chapters are a few pages, some are half a page.  Frankly issues of chapter length are inconsequential. You need to consider that since you're posting your story, chapter by chapter, it's a little unsatisfying to read ultra-short chapters and then have to wait for an unspecified period of time for another short chapter. If it were all put together in a novel, short chapters wouldn't be a problem.

 

As for the framing devices of text messages and such. It's all been done before. There's The Boy Next Door a romance which is composed of email messages and texts. The Pulitzer prize winner,  Visit to the Goon Squad, had famously chapters which featured powerpoint slides  and it even has text message sections. Check out Laura Myracle whose books are entirely  in text messages. and there's The Lover's Dictionary which is a novel that made of dictionary entries.  Anyway these are just framing devices. Some readers will think you're just being gimmicky or something, but as long as story and heart are all in there, anything goes.

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I've noticed that the conversation about this didn't continue very much:

 


But: I'm not a fan of using emails, texts, tweets, IMs, or anything like that very often in stories. To me, stuff like that smacks me as a gimmick that takes you out of the story. I don't have a problem with communications being mentioned as a sideline, like a character grimaces when he sees an angry text from his ex or something like that. Once in awhile is fine; line after line of back-and-forth texted dialogue makes me wince. 

 

I have to say I vehemently disagree. While everyone has their own personal quirks that can evolve into annoying pet peeves you don't like to read, I welcome this kind of gimmicky experimentation wholeheartedly. No doubt a lot of writers will use it as a cute story wrapper without thinking much about it, but it has a lot of potential.

 

It reminds me that literature of its time has always been heavily influenced by the way people of the time communicated. Classical epic poetry and fairy tales are influenced greatly by the need to preserve communication through oral repitition because they had no other way of communicating. As people began to write letters to each other, you can see it influence literature until you get something like Bram Stoker's Dracula. That's a vision of horror that is completely out of sync with our modern society -- it's about people taking long, ponderous, thoughtful draughts of the paragraph and the page to explain things to others and it is completely influenced by a society that I am guessing had to learn how to accurately portray complex emotions and make sure they remained an accurate portrayal for the days, weeks or months until they received  a reply to their letters. This meant they took their training of writing very seriously and used the full extent of their vocabulary to detail the emotions and particulars. And as televisions came into play, you can sense the shift in novels to setting up increasingly visual scenes with less context, ripe for us to analyze. And the advent of the telephone transformed the believability of pages and paragraphs of one person speaking dialogue to an increasing sensitivity to shorter sentences by more speakers.

 

Now that we have all these methods of near instant communication, it is obvious that they've also come into the story as props, but I think they could also help shape some interesting new avenues for exposition and story development.

 

Consider this scenario: one chapter of a modern romance tale is told entirely as a blog post as it is being written -- that is, we get to see the writer of the post delete words and re-write, correct typos and go back and delete portions. But we don't get to see the character, hear their thoughts while they type, or feel any of the scenery surrounding the computer or their mind. It becomes apparent that the poster becoming unhinged with rage as they continue to write it. The chapter ends at the end of the blog post, which is now a rather scathing and ill-considered invective.

 

We as the reader anticipate lots of fecal matter hitting cooling devices in the next chapter. However, the next few chapters, which consist of nothing but e-mails, Twitter messages, chatting and texts, show no reaction from the people we know as readers who would have read the writer's blog. Why is this? Eventually something nasty happens that could have been entirely prevented if the characters knew what was written in the blog post. It comes out through a text message that the writer deleted the whole thing before they posted because they thought it in bad taste.

 

This, I would consider an effective twist on an old and worn out staple: that of miscommunication providing problems for our romance tale. I think a lot of readers of modern romances are getting sick of contrived scenes where somebody really ought to just come out and say something and solve a whole lot of problems, but they won't. This can still be done effectively, sure, but it's getting harder and harder the more we have to face palm as the knowing reader, at the lack of common sense in the main characters. However, I think people can relate to just how utterly screwed up communication can get when you're spreading it around social media and electronic text communication, and if you're one of the people who grew up on the Internet you might sympathize with the person who has learned to control their temper, step back and just let go of the argument. Furthermore, the suspense of just what on earth is going on is kept fresher than the usual story where we're getting tired of waiting for the characters to catch up to us.

 

There are a lot of scenarios I can envision. Stories where gossip, back-stabbing and manipulation play as key themes might thrive by omitting more common narrative threads and only including the drive-by shootings that are modern text communication. A story that is made up of nothing but fake message board conversation and fake news sites and fake Twitter accounts, but whose main character is a popular actor or singer whom all of that revolves around might be an extremely compelling form of invoking the unreliable third person narrator(s). Long distance romance stories could benefit by showing only the communication between the main characters and their circle in their location and the next chapter switching to the alternate location of the romantic partner.

 

Cell phone novels were a huge fad in the middle part of last decade in Japan (I'm not sure about the rest of the world) and while they are still around, they have evolved in interesting ways. There is a new form of fiction where you subscribe to an author by adding a set of e-mail addresses to your address book and then create a folder labeled as the name of the work. You get e-mails from fictitious people addressed to each other, all written by the author you described to and when added together in that folder, they make up one book. They're really fun to read and they really do exploit the limitations and possibilities of such a strange storytelling structure. Has anyone else read one of these?

 

So I see a lot of potential in this structure, especially because the overwhelming ubiquity of internet access and always-available computer technology seems to be having rather alarming effects on people's attention span, patience levels and required levels of stimulation -- which are ripe for exploitation in romance scenarios.

Link to comment

I've noticed that the conversation about this didn't continue very much:

 

 

I have to say I vehemently disagree. While everyone has their own personal quirks that can evolve into annoying pet peeves you don't like to read, I welcome this kind of gimmicky experimentation wholeheartedly. No doubt a lot of writers will use it as a cute story wrapper without thinking much about it, but it has a lot of potential.

 

It reminds me that literature of its time has always been heavily influenced by the way people of the time communicated. Classical epic poetry and fairy tales are influenced greatly by the need to preserve communication through oral repitition because they had no other way of communicating. As people began to write letters to each other, you can see it influence literature until you get something like Bram Stoker's Dracula. That's a vision of horror that is completely out of sync with our modern society -- it's about people taking long, ponderous, thoughtful draughts of the paragraph and the page to explain things to others and it is completely influenced by a society that I am guessing had to learn how to accurately portray complex emotions and make sure they remained an accurate portrayal for the days, weeks or months until they received  a reply to their letters. This meant they took their training of writing very seriously and used the full extent of their vocabulary to detail the emotions and particulars. And as televisions came into play, you can sense the shift in novels to setting up increasingly visual scenes with less context, ripe for us to analyze. And the advent of the telephone transformed the believability of pages and paragraphs of one person speaking dialogue to an increasing sensitivity to shorter sentences by more speakers.

 

Now that we have all these methods of near instant communication, it is obvious that they've also come into the story as props, but I think they could also help shape some interesting new avenues for exposition and story development.

 

Consider this scenario: one chapter of a modern romance tale is told entirely as a blog post as it is being written -- that is, we get to see the writer of the post delete words and re-write, correct typos and go back and delete portions. But we don't get to see the character, hear their thoughts while they type, or feel any of the scenery surrounding the computer or their mind. It becomes apparent that the poster becoming unhinged with rage as they continue to write it. The chapter ends at the end of the blog post, which is now a rather scathing and ill-considered invective.

 

We as the reader anticipate lots of fecal matter hitting cooling devices in the next chapter. However, the next few chapters, which consist of nothing but e-mails, Twitter messages, chatting and texts, show no reaction from the people we know as readers who would have read the writer's blog. Why is this? Eventually something nasty happens that could have been entirely prevented if the characters knew what was written in the blog post. It comes out through a text message that the writer deleted the whole thing before they posted because they thought it in bad taste.

 

This, I would consider an effective twist on an old and worn out staple: that of miscommunication providing problems for our romance tale. I think a lot of readers of modern romances are getting sick of contrived scenes where somebody really ought to just come out and say something and solve a whole lot of problems, but they won't. This can still be done effectively, sure, but it's getting harder and harder the more we have to face palm as the knowing reader, at the lack of common sense in the main characters. However, I think people can relate to just how utterly screwed up communication can get when you're spreading it around social media and electronic text communication, and if you're one of the people who grew up on the Internet you might sympathize with the person who has learned to control their temper, step back and just let go of the argument. Furthermore, the suspense of just what on earth is going on is kept fresher than the usual story where we're getting tired of waiting for the characters to catch up to us.

 

There are a lot of scenarios I can envision. Stories where gossip, back-stabbing and manipulation play as key themes might thrive by omitting more common narrative threads and only including the drive-by shootings that are modern text communication. A story that is made up of nothing but fake message board conversation and fake news sites and fake Twitter accounts, but whose main character is a popular actor or singer whom all of that revolves around might be an extremely compelling form of invoking the unreliable third person narrator(s). Long distance romance stories could benefit by showing only the communication between the main characters and their circle in their location and the next chapter switching to the alternate location of the romantic partner.

 

Cell phone novels were a huge fad in the middle part of last decade in Japan (I'm not sure about the rest of the world) and while they are still around, they have evolved in interesting ways. There is a new form of fiction where you subscribe to an author by adding a set of e-mail addresses to your address book and then create a folder labeled as the name of the work. You get e-mails from fictitious people addressed to each other, all written by the author you described to and when added together in that folder, they make up one book. They're really fun to read and they really do exploit the limitations and possibilities of such a strange storytelling structure. Has anyone else read one of these?

 

So I see a lot of potential in this structure, especially because the overwhelming ubiquity of internet access and always-available computer technology seems to be having rather alarming effects on people's attention span, patience levels and required levels of stimulation -- which are ripe for exploitation in romance scenarios.

 

Wow, I never expected such a strong defense of modern communication in fiction. :D

 

I like the points about emails and I think someone did try to emulate that in the US, at least in my high school during 2004, but it never went into popularity. I like Japanese culture and its modern takes on technology and human beings. (Big Anime fan as well)

 

@Crazyfish:

 

I knew I read something like this before. I just couldn't remember it. If I was being gimmicky, I'd have made it a part of my synopsis :P No, I just thought using reality and parallels to life was a good idea.

 

However, based on my own experience, I don't think modern communications is actually the best way for relationships to work towards stability. I am not an expert on this, but I think the issues of using text versus physical contact just changes the dynamics of human connection. I might be wrong and this story will attract a GA reader, who I might end up with (now that's another romance story idea, a gay online author finding his true love through his online writing. They do not meet at all, but connect through a message board like this one. Anyone want to be my next subject :P )

 

Anyway, modern communications inside a romance fiction story is not for everyone. I thought the idea was interesting after reflecting on my first date and how I met him.

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