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Writing Forum | WritersDigest.com • Chapter issues : Tips and Advice • Writing Forum | WritersDigest.com
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Chapter issues

PostPosted: Sun Dec 18, 2016 12:03 pm
by JoS
Hi,
I hope you can guide me a little on that one. I searched in the forum but couldn't find the answer on my question.
Is there a correct chapter separation? I mean how can one define the perfect number of chapters? Is there a rule on that?
I wrote my first novel in 16 tittled chapters. So I wonder if I did the right thing or maybe I need to break in down to a bigger number of chapters.

Appreciate your advice!

Re: Chapter issues

PostPosted: Sun Dec 18, 2016 2:41 pm
by shadowwalker
There's no set standard for chapter length. Chapters should be one "set" of events that blend together; when the story moves on to the next "set" of events, you use another chapter. Some chapters are only a page, a few paragraphs; others are pages and pages. The main thing is to make them end at a point that feels natural for the flow of the story, just as you end a paragraph.

A good discussion of chapters in another context is here:

Re: Chapter issues

PostPosted: Sun Dec 18, 2016 3:20 pm
by JoS
Thank you, I'll check it out.

Re: Chapter issues

PostPosted: Sun Dec 18, 2016 6:19 pm
by cynicalwanderer
Yes, it's largely down to "feel", I think - what seems like the right point to conclude one chapter and start another. A few examples to consider are:

- Cliffhangers. The Dan Brown style of chapter breaks...
- POV character changes are commonly used break points, useful for books where chapters switch between different chars
- Location or scene changes. While these can of course also happen inside chapters, as scene transitions, if you've got 007 leaving London and arriving in Caracas for the next stint of action, it's a good excuse for a chapter break

Re: Chapter issues

PostPosted: Sun Dec 18, 2016 9:43 pm
by DrG2
I believe most chapters in most novels should be between 1K and 7.5K words. But an individual chapter could be anywhere from one word to 30K words.

Re: Chapter issues

PostPosted: Sun Dec 18, 2016 10:13 pm
by JoS
Obviously the length gap is very wide.
I'm more worried that I might be making a mistake having them titled although it feels like the right thing to me.

Re: Chapter issues

PostPosted: Mon Dec 19, 2016 12:16 am
by shadowwalker

Re: Chapter issues

PostPosted: Mon Dec 19, 2016 1:41 pm
by wdarcy
A chapter is as long as it has to be. That said, chapters seem to be shorter these days, at least in genre novels. If your novel contains only 16 chapters, they must be fairly long, unless your novel is extremely short. You might think of ways to break them into shorter chapters. For example, if a chapter contains 3 scenes, you might think of making each scene into a single chapter. Remember: no reader will ever complain that a chapter is too short.

I love chapter titles, both as a reader and an author. I used them a lot in my first 3 novels. However, I've come to realize that they really are rather old fashioned, and few authors use them anymore. So I've stopped using them, especially as I'm writing much shorter chapters than I used to. If you group your chapters into parts, you can give each part a title--that's common these days.

--Warren

Re: Chapter issues

PostPosted: Mon Dec 19, 2016 2:02 pm
by JoS
So I'm a little old fashioned .. not surprised at all :)
I'll try to rethink the chapters. Maybe break them into smaller ones and then group into titled parts. I don't like to see titles on the chapters if they are too many as well. As a reader I don't. So I won't write it the way I wouldn't like to see it myself.
Thank you for the advice.

Re: Chapter issues

PostPosted: Wed Jan 04, 2017 1:17 am
by Gustavo Woltmann
It's your novel, you decide on how long your chapter would be as long as the events blend in one. Unless your publisher sets a standard about the chapter's length.