Chapters

So much to read, so little time!

At the moment, my novel isn't split into chapters. It was, but then I stopped and figured I'd worry about it later (when I get out the BIG RED PEN). I've broken up scenes - it happens quite naturally - but I stopped consciously forcing chapter breaks.  I just want to get the story down and keep the flow going.

When I do start breaking this thing up, I'll have to think about the length of each chapter.  As a reader, I like shorter chapters because it keeps the pace snappy. As a writer, I have a terrible tendency to ramble on and on, but that's a hang-up from writing serialised fanfiction, where each chapter had to last the readers for days, weeks or even months before I got the next one done.

How about you guys? Long or short? Is 5,000 words too long? Too short? Just right? Chapters can be a pain – you want them to flow and be engaging, but you need to break somewhere to give the reader a chance to catch their breath.  Finding the right moment can be so hard.

And here's another thought – do you name chapters or just number them? I've experimented with both and I definitely prefer numbers, but titles have the benefit of offering snippets of what's to come. As a reader, I have no preference but as a writer, I stick with numbers.

And then of course some books get split into parts and sections aaaaaaand, well, nothing I've written is epic enough for that ;)

Comments

  1. As a reader, I personally liked numbered chapters. I feel like a lot of times writers give chapters names that give away part of the plot or they're just cheesy. In my own writing when I include chapters I tend to number them.

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  2. I second the numbered chapters. Sometimes chapter names poke me and I cannot stop reading the book. It's good, but when I need to do other things, it's bad, haha.

    I also like shorter chapters mostly because when I read and need to stop, I like to finish the chapter first before going to another task. Plus, I think it makes the reading go faster. :)

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  3. I agree with everyone about the numbered chapters. Chapter names definitely can be cheesy or give-aways. When I'm reading I usually just ignore them. I also like shorter chapters. :)

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  4. I prefer numbered (& shorter!) chapters. I don't really like to know what's going to happen when I'm reading something, even if it is only a vague little title! Also, if I don't have a bookmark (folding book corners makes me die!), it's easier for me to remember which chapter I need to come back to if they are numbered. :)

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  5. Jessica: There are some truly cheesy chapter titles out there. It's a hard thing to keep going over a long book or a series.

    Angie: Yeah, shorter chapters = me getting other things done :P

    Gracie: Oh, isn't it frustrating when a chapter title gives away the events? Give me numbers!

    Laura: I refuse to bend pages on my favourite books. University books, okay, but a great book? NEVER! It's book abuse!

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