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Thread: How many words per chapter?

  1. #1
    To-to-to-ron-to Darzian's Avatar
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    Talking How many words per chapter?

    I'm writing a fantasy story for the first time. I want to post my sample first chapter on this website.

    1) Where can I post it? Please provide a link because I can't find the place.

    2) How many words are there usually per chapter? I know it varies a lot but I want a rough estimate.

    Thanks everyone! My first post.

    ETA: Please look at date and post # 13. Question was resolved approximately 13 months ago.
    Last edited by Darzian; 10-02-2009 at 04:30 PM.

  2. #2
    Always Watching lostgirl's Avatar
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    You can post your stuff in SYW in the Science Fiction sub forum the url is http://absolutewrite.com/forums/foru...aysprune=&f=67 and the password is: vista.

    Before you post your work there you should go here first. http://absolutewrite.com/forums/foru...ysprune=&f=135

    if it asks for a password it's still: vista

    The threads there will tell you everything you need to know about posting your work. Good luck.

  3. #3
    http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/...splay.php?f=67

    The password is "vista".

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    I wouldn't post more than 2,000 words. That's about 8 MS pages. Make sure the font is Veranda 2, and that you physically put spaces between paragraphs. Also, if you have any swearing or graphic violence, it's general practice to lead off with a warning.

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  4. #4
    Always learning virtue_summer's Avatar
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    The number of words in a chapter is going to vary widely. My first chapter is approximately a thousand words long. The last chapter I wrote? Almost eight thousand words long. Most of my chapters? Somewhere in the middle. Seriously, a chapter's length depends on the writer and the story. Some writer's tend to write short chapters. Others tend to write longer ones. Some chapters seem to need more space. Others don't need much at all. There's no real estimate that I know of. I'm sorry if you don't want to hear that, but it's true.

  5. #5
    To-to-to-ron-to Darzian's Avatar
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    Thank you everyone! I just want to perfect things a bit and then post!



    Quote Originally Posted by virtue_summer View Post
    The number of words in a chapter is going to vary widely. My first chapter is approximately a thousand words long. The last chapter I wrote? Almost eight thousand words long. Most of my chapters? Somewhere in the middle. Seriously, a chapter's length depends on the writer and the story. Some writer's tend to write short chapters. Others tend to write longer ones. Some chapters seem to need more space. Others don't need much at all. There's no real estimate that I know of. I'm sorry if you don't want to hear that, but it's true.
    Yes I know what you mean. The chapters in some books are just a few pages, while those in the Wheel of Time are about 30 pages!

  6. #6
    Company Man MattW's Avatar
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    As a matter of taste, I prefer scenes that aren't more than 4-5 pages and chapters that have a rational grouping of scenes. What I don't like to read is a book with 148 chapters of one scene, or 4 chapters of 30 scenes each.

    Mix it up, keep changing it. Along with sentence and paragraph length, it's another method for controlling the pace of the story. Rapid fire, short scenes create tension or speed. Long, drawn out scenes to create anxiety or build expectations.
    "We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them." -- Albert Einstein

  7. #7
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin SerenityX's Avatar
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    My chapters tend to be 2,000-5,000 depending upon the content. Unless it's a huge scene I don't like to spread it out over many chapters, so it's all about finding a rational place to end the chapter for me.

  8. #8
    Swordsman zornhau's Avatar
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    Mine are about 5K-6K.

    People usually set their chapter length intuatively, but I think it is actually determined by reading speed and attention. I see a a chapter is one reader sitting. It should reward them for their time, and also point to the next chapter(s).

    For example, IIRC the old pulp mistess Leigh Brackett's Ginger Star series has chapters comprising an actual scene plus section of mostly narrative summary (sequel/transition) where the implications of that scene become apparent.

    e.g.
    SCENE: After a fierce battle, bandits take the party's mounts.
    SEQUEL: Party traipses through desert, lost and running out of water. Just as they are about to expire, they see a golden dome on the horizon.
    (Newly Agented but unpublished author. The usual caveats apply.)

    German Longsword in a nutshell: "I'd shake your hand... but I'm not sure where it landed."

  9. #9
    Mine are usually between 1,500-2,000.
    Generally, I keep checking on my word count. I don't know what it is, but I seem to be obsessed with it. Really need to get out of the habit, because I tend to check it after every paragraph >.<

  10. #10
    Now available (see sig for link)! Cliff Face's Avatar
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    LOL, I check my word count every time I take a sip of coffee...

    My chapters are usually about the same throughout a book. First MS had 3-4k chapters, though I think there was one with about 5k where I got carried away. Second MS has 2k chapters, but more chapters total.

    It's all rough estimates though. Usually I'll try wrapping up a scene/section when I'm nearing what I think is how long the chapter will be. Sometimes it sounds forced to drag it out, and it will undoubtedly be edited down, other times I get carried away and have an extra 500-1000 words on top of what I was going to do, because the end of the scene suddenly got exciting in a way I didn't forsee.

    I'd aim for 3-4k for your first attempt, but don't be afraid to mix it up. Ie. don't force too much, and don't skimp when you have a bout of inspiration.

    Good luck.
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  11. #11
    Squirrel, Sekrit type, 1 ea. kct webber's Avatar
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    Chapters have no average length. They need to be as long as they need to be. For Share Your Work, however, I wouldn't go more than 2000. If your chapter is longer, split it up.

    A lot of people aren't going to respond to some 5000 word monstrosity. Not that 5000 is too long for a chapter. It's just that critting takes time.

    ETA: Holy crap, this is a zombie thread. I just realized how old this thing is.
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  12. #12
    Been Here A While Feidb's Avatar
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    Mine tend to be short, from 900 to about 1500 per chapter. I base them on the way I read, during commercials. It also just seems to feel better that way. However, I've had a few chapters go to 4000 words, but it depends on the scene and where the logical breaks are.

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  13. #13
    To-to-to-ron-to Darzian's Avatar
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    Ah, one of my first ever threads.

    Nice to recall the time when I was a typical newbie, asking typical newbie questions.

    I got an e-mail today telling me that someone replied to a thread I had posted about chapter length. Now, I don't recall posting such a thing and come to have a look, and behold!

    Nice memories.

  14. #14
    Bored Fanatic Straka's Avatar
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    I tend to keep my chapters around the 3K mark (12 pages). 4500 being long. (18 pages)
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  15. #15
    Kill your television Ardent Kat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Darzian View Post
    Nice to recall the time when I was a typical newbie, asking typical newbie questions.
    I was thinking, "Oh, come on. It wasn't THAT long ago"... Then I checked the year next to the date. XD

  16. #16
    Brony level >9000 Nivarion's Avatar
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    I was looking at this wondering why Darzian would be asking such a noobie question.

    I should have looked at the date.

    I never look at the dates...
    Hey, I'm back after, like, months! Almost a year even!

    If there are horrible typos, see the following.

    Sent from my IPhone. ... Stupid autocorrect.

  17. #17
    Squirrel, Sekrit type, 1 ea. kct webber's Avatar
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    I know. I didn't look 'til after I'd replied. I was being lured by a zombie and didn't even know it. I could have been killed!
    I write with my hands tied behind my back.

    Quando Omni Flunkus Moritati ~ Red Green





  18. #18
    Bored Fanatic Straka's Avatar
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    I always thought necromancy was cool.
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  19. #19
    Jun-Ikkyu Nick Blaze's Avatar
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    A chapter should be the most logical place to break an arc of story. Norse literature has VERY short chapters (and books) with a chapters sometimes only a paragraph or two long. Why? Well, the first chapter, say, introduces to you Egil. When he's no longer in need of introduction (as in, you know his father, his father's father, etc, his mother, his mother's mother, etc, his wife, how he got her, how he lives, where he was raised, etc) the chapter ends. Then the chapter will become, "How Egil Sailed to Norway" and will then go about how he sailed to Norway. It connects plot points in this case.

    In other cases, it should connect some of the larger plotpoints. Rather than having a chapter about how your MC traveled from one place to the other, focus instead on (if your novel has an important character other than the MC) how he meets that character, what they do together, and end with what they settle on doing together. Length should not matter (unless you're trying to please a publisher). Sometimes a chapter NEEDS to be less than a page long. Othertimes, it has to be 70 pages. But most readers won't be happy with that.

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