Re: RE: Chapter Length

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Mikala Engel

There have been chapters as short as a single word, though these usually come across as gimmicks, and most readers seem to hate them.

Chapter length really isn’t an issue. Chapter structure most often is. A chapter, like the novel itself, should have some sort of beginning, midle, and end. But the beginning of one chapter is often the end of the previous chapter, then comes a scene unique to that chapter, and then an ending that’s really a cliffhanger. The beginning of the next chapter then begins with teh resolution to the cliffhanger, has a scene unique to itself, and has a cliffhanger to end it.

Butthere are many structures for chapters, and length really isn’t an issue, as long as you don’t begin and end chapters randomly.

Shorter is usually better, and chapters that are very long usually contain scene breaks that make them read as if there were many chapters inside the one long chapter.

The important thing is to give the chapters structure, and to make them roughly the same length. It doesn’t work well to have eight or ten chapters that are three or four published pages in length, and then to have a chapter that’s sixty pages.

The rule really is that a chapter should be as long or as short as it needs to be to say what it needs to say. When you’ve said what you have to say, it’s time for a new chapter.

Just try to be more or less consistent, don’t begin or end chapters at random, and you’ll be fine. Editors and readers usually prefer short chapters, but both greatly prefer good chapters. So concentrate on how well they read, rather than on length.

Anyway, there really is no such thing as a chapter that’s too short. Most writer base chapter length on their own writing style, and on the particular story they’re writing. The length that comes naturally to you is probably the best possible length. Just write, tell the story, and the chapter will most likely break themselves into the right length.