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Thread: YA chapter length

  1. #1
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin
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    I read somewhere, that readers tend to read more in one sitting if the chapters are short because they have the sensation to progress faster and want to read "one more chapter" before putting the book down.

    Personally, I don't like very long chapters (some long books have literally only 3 chapters) but I also don't think 2-3 pages should be a stand alone part. Feels a bit empty. It think longer chapters are ok as Long as they are some kind of scene separation that can be a good stop (Murakami does this a lot).

    I am wondering if it is better to mix thing around, or keep a consistent length of all the chapters?

  2. #2
    What to my wondering eyes... AW Moderator Sage's Avatar
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    I think chapters should be somewhat consistent within a book, but that somewhat is very wishy-washy. A short chapter among longer ones can emphasize itself, but only if they're few and far between. A long chapter among shorter ones, though, can sometimes annoy a reader who has gotten used to the short chapters. When I get a short-chapter book, it's a book I use for short chapter purposes (a book I read in the bathroom, a book I read a chapter of every X number of words I write, as another, a book I read on lunch break because I'll probably find a chapter break near the end of my half hour). But short chapters can also seem to interrupt the flow of the story, putting artificial breaks in there. It also gives permission to the reader to stop, so it's a double-edged sword between whether it makes them read one more (short) chapter or makes them put the book down faster than they would have if the chapter was another 2K words.

    In the end, it's all about what works best for your story and your writing. Chapter breaks should feel natural.

    (It's been a while since I wrote a book without alternating POVs at chapter breaks, but I seem to recall chapter breaks without them feeling natural )
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  3. #3
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin RoseDG's Avatar
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    It is very much a personal taste thing. I can't imagine a YA novel with only 3 chapters, however.

  4. #4
    Mentoring Myself and Others Debbie V's Avatar
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    There are books with one sentence chapters. (I know I've read one but I don't know what it was.) This isn't the norm for the book, of course. (I know Maniac Magee, which is MG, has half-page chapters.) It's all in what you want the chapters to do. For my WIP, they have to feel complete and all scenes in them relate to a theme. Length varies based on that, but they come up close to the same. But I know that one sentence chapter made me stop and think.

  5. #5
    I got it covered Undercover's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Debbie V View Post
    There are books with one sentence chapters. (I know I've read one but I don't know what it was.) This isn't the norm for the book, of course. (I know Maniac Magee, which is MG, has half-page chapters.) It's all in what you want the chapters to do. For my WIP, they have to feel complete and all scenes in them relate to a theme. Length varies based on that, but they come up close to the same. But I know that one sentence chapter made me stop and think.
    I've seen this in books too, the tiny chapters. I think it's neat. It can be very effective in some cases.

  6. #6
    The snozberrys taste lke snozberrys spikeman4444's Avatar
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    Love short chapters. I can fly through a book with short chapters, but long chapter books take forever for me. Probably because I hate stopping mid-chapter so I will put off reading until I know I can finish the chapter in one sitting, and it takes days sometimes to get that time.
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