Jump to content

Chapter Length


Recommended Posts

Great article. 

There really isn't a solid answer to the question. Every author and every reader differs in their opinion of what the right length is for a chapter. As long as it makes sense in the overall plot and flow of the story, and doesn't take three days to read, alls good. 

The biggest issue, for me at least, with super long chapters is finding the time to read them. I'm the sort of reader that will lose my place easily if I get interrupted in the middle. Long chapters (10k or more in my opinion) tend to be information overload. Short chapters (under 3k) leave you craving more.

  • Like 2
  • Love 3
Link to comment
1 minute ago, Carlos Hazday said:

A wise person once told me chapters should be as long as they need to be in order to tell what the author wants to. 

Exactly.  Which is pretty much the point of the article.  

  • Like 3
  • Love 2
Link to comment

Publishing a book as a whole means you can experiment more with chapter lengths. Especially if you'd like to play around with very short chapters. Perhaps in a story with multiple viewpoints. Here, that wouldn't work. 🤨😄 It is something that attracts me though...

  • Like 4
Link to comment

I’ve experimented with short and long chapters. In The Cloud, I tried short, punchy chapters. The Company chapters are very long as they are practically a stream of consciousness as the protagonist goes through his day.

Both have their strengths and weaknesses. The shorter chapters make you work hard to make the scene complete and balanced.

Longer chapters give you more room and don’t have to be as tightly wound. You have more options for characterization, sub-plots and all the little touches that make the magic.

What’s best? It depends on the story you want to tell and how you decide to present it.

Edited by JamesSavik
  • Like 2
  • Love 3
Link to comment

What isn't discussed, although kbois mentions it, is place holding.

On 6/14/2022 at 7:03 PM, kbois said:

I'm the sort of reader that will lose my place easily if I get interrupted in the middle.

If you are reading anything published online other than an ebook you have no way to easily find where you stopped reading. For this reason I much prefer ebooks or short chapters. At an average reading speed of 200 words a minute, a 2000 word chapter is 10 minutes of your time, 4000 words 20 minutes, meaning you could mostly finish a chapter without having to rush it. Any longer and it becomes a little more difficult.

Chapter length wouldn't matter at all if you published a pdf file to download and read in an ebook reader and included a link back to comment. That is a technical solution, but means you don't keep your readers on your site being fed adverts which finance the site, although feasibly the ads could download or be presented with the download and not impact site revenue. The premise of reading logged in online is not imo the best.

  • Like 2
Link to comment
10 hours ago, Carlos Hazday said:

. Since I share my work for free, I'm not sure I'd be as interested in doing it without the weekly interaction.

I am sure that technically there could be a way to allow offline downloaded end of chapter comments and feedback linked to the story which would still be online to read. Thing is, as you say most readers do not join and comment, which poses a question - Why? Because they don't need to. They can read, as you say, your stories for free, without joining the site and giving an email address and other personal info. If you want comments and likes it has to be easy to do and then the reader needs to get something in return. What that something is varies from those who join here feeling a part of the club and liking the interaction with the author, and the vast majority who either don't see it as worthwhile or are worried about privacy issues. I find the reader interaction is a bonus, but I share for free without it and on sites where you don't even get reader numbers. You can't really be writing just to get feedback?

Link to comment

@James K

It's not the only reason, but it's a primary one. I can't write in a vacuum, if there was no opportunity for interaction, I'd keep the stories to myself or not write. The ease of exchanging comments with readers is the reason I tried a couple of other sites but only post on GA these days.

  • Like 4
Link to comment
4 hours ago, Carlos Hazday said:

@James K

It's not the only reason, but it's a primary one. I can't write in a vacuum, if there was no opportunity for interaction, I'd keep the stories to myself or not write. The ease of exchanging comments with readers is the reason I tried a couple of other sites but only post on GA these days.

I post my dragonriders stories on a couple of other sites. The comments are far, far fewer. I can see how many people have been reading the content, but without the interaction, it's much less fun. One of the things I look forward to on GA is reading through and replying to the comments every time I post a new chapter.

  • Like 5
Link to comment
5 hours ago, Carlos Hazday said:

@James K

It's not the only reason, but it's a primary one. I can't write in a vacuum, if there was no opportunity for interaction, I'd keep the stories to myself or not write. The ease of exchanging comments with readers is the reason I tried a couple of other sites but only post on GA these days.

When you're part of the best, why mess with the rest? 😉🙂

  • Like 2
  • Haha 3
Link to comment
19 hours ago, kbois said:

When you're part of the best, why mess with the rest? 😉🙂

Now you've done it!

Myr's gonna be insufferable the rest of the day.

His ego's not as inflated as mine, but it's there. :P

 

Edited by Carlos Hazday
  • Haha 5
Link to comment
  • 2 weeks later...
On 6/14/2022 at 9:37 PM, Carlos Hazday said:

A wise person once told me chapters should be as long as they need to be in order to tell what the author wants to. I pay less attention to word count with every story/chapter.

I really enjoyed the article.  My writing has been limited to articles and treatises where the dreaded overall word count comes into play.  
now I teach writing at a more basic level. What you and others say in this discussion can be applied to the dreaded question of paragraph, and even sentence level. Content and style are more important than length.
 

That said, as a reader, constantly short Chps drive me crazy as I have a slow, old IPad.  I think that you first division writers here should not worry about length. Though I do recommend how Carlos gives us the occasional shorter chp almost as a bonus.  

Finally, if you’ve read this far, many, many thanks to a great team of writers.  🤗

Edited by Gary L
  • Like 2
  • Love 1
Link to comment
4 hours ago, Gary L said:

That said, as a reader, constantly short Chps drive me crazy as I have a slow, old IPad.  I think that you first division writers here should not worry about length. Though I do recommend how Carlos gives us the occasional shorter chp almost as a bonus.

Sometimes, it requires only a few words to get the purpose/theme of the chapter down; that's when I usually post two chapters close together. Of course, there's always the option of limiting chapter length on purpose. I did it with Singer, limiting chapters to 1k each. I liked the approach while most readers disliked it. One of the great things about GA is the opportunity to experiment. I've done that frequently. My advice's to try new approaches until you settle with something that feels comfortable.

  • Like 3
Link to comment
3 hours ago, Carlos Hazday said:

One of the great things about GA is the opportunity to experiment.

👍👍 My current WIP is in the 3rd person present. New for me. If it ends up being chaptered, then the chapters will be shorter than my norm. It's what fits the storytelling. There's little point being a latter day Charles Dickens and padding everything out to reach an expected word count. Something I suspect I've been guilty of earlier on in my writing career. 🤨😄

Edited by northie
  • Like 2
Link to comment
56 minutes ago, northie said:

👍👍 My current WIP is in the 3rd person present. New for me. If it ends up being chaptered, then the chapters will be shorter than my norm. It's what fits the storytelling. There's little point being a latter day Charles Dickens and padding everything out to reach an expected word count. Something I suspect I've been guilty of earlier on in my writing career. 🤨😄

Northie, just keep on doing what you are doing! I, for one, love your writing.  Hiding from the sun here in Spain, with windows and blinds closed, you take me back to my youth in UK and the north.  As I said, you are doing great 👍 

  • Like 2
  • Love 1
Link to comment
×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

Our Privacy Policy can be found here: Privacy Policy. We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue..