Friday, June 10, 2016

Should chapters be of the same length?

Some time back, one of my writing friends who had taken the independent publishing route as most of the agents had turned down her book, told me while chatting online, that she was adjusting her chapters. I asked her what did that mean. She said she was making sure that all the chapters are of equal length.

I was stunned. For my two previous manuscripts, I hadn’t paid attention to this detail. Infact, if you ask me, I won’t even be able to tell you the word count for the chapters or the number of pages for each chapter. I just know that the prankster book has long chapters and the book about a boy and a magic spirit has short chapters. But whether the chapters are of equal length or not, I won’t be able to tell.
                                                                                    
I don’t pay much attention to chapter lengths. Neither while writing my books nor while reading someone elses. I am more interested in ensuring that the chapters end on a suspense or cliff-hanger mode. I also love giving each chapter a title.

For the current manuscript I’m writing, I worked on this detail. I’ve just completed  the first draft, so it’s going to undergo a seismic change. I have ensured all the chapters fall in the 1200-1700 words range (that’s the best I could do).

I checked the chapters of the book I am currently reading. The chapters are all of unequal lengths. I was thrilled to see that I’m not alone where unequal chapters are concerned.

I’m sure no editor or agent will reject a manuscript because one chapter is longer than the other.

Should we worry about chapter lengths? Do you think unequal chapters can hamper a book? Any advice will be appreciated.


15 comments:

  1. Well, worry will never do anything good :) But personally I kind of, sort of, check whether my chapters are of equal length. I do not want to make them too long, if that happens, I split them. Short chapters just make for easier reading!

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  2. I agree with you that chapter length should not matter. And I've seen lots of books with chapters of widely different lengths. So I don't think you have to worry about it.

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  3. I don't separate my stories into the chapters until the very end. (And my publisher can testify that the first manuscript I send has no chapters.) But I guess I do make them similar in length when I divide up the story. I guess that's just the rhythm of the stories I write.

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  4. As a writer, like you, I really only worried about how the chapter ended, not so much the length.

    As a reader, I don't care whether the chapters are short or long, although if it's a really long chapter, I appreciate a couple of breaks in it.

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  5. What an interesting question. When I try to outline a book, I attempt to make chapters the same length. When I write without an outline, I let the story dictate the length of the chapters. As a reader, however, I like a book to have fairly uniform chapters and I like short rather than long. That's because I sometimes grab 15 minutes here and there to read and it's nice to stop at a chapter's end instead of mid-chapter.

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  6. Sometimes I think we writers just try to find something new to worry about. Heh. Chapter length doesn't matter. Just like sentences, chapter length will usually vary based on what the scene needs.

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  7. The book I'm writing at the moment has some very long chapters - up to 5000 words - and some over a 1000 shorter. I've been more concerned about ending the chapter in the right place, and making sure I had all the relevant information within it. It would be impossible to make these chapters equal. Did your friend explain what her reasoning was?

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  8. Really interesting post...thx for sharing! xx

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  9. I don't really think it matters. I've seen that a mix up of all length if chapter works.

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  10. It depends on the story. Short chapters can get a book flowing faster, but longer ones have their pluses in a more literary style. It just depends what you're trying to do:)

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  11. I don't think it matters either as long as it's doing what it is suppose to.

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  12. Yikes. I definitely try to keep them close to the same lengths but GEESH, not exact. Great seeing you!!!

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  13. I'm more concerned about the chapters being too long because then it's hard to find a stopping point. XD I'm more interested in short chapters and I also love naming chapters! I believe the names create intrigue.

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