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jodiodi
01-11-2007, 08:39 AM
I know this sounds silly and I admit to being a completely ignorant newbie, but I've seen agents who say 'send three sample chapters' while others specify 'first three chapters' or such. Do they mean the same thing or are the three sample chapters three random chapters, hopefully representative of the best parts of the work?

I'll try not to ask too many more questions.

Thanks.

Sage
01-11-2007, 08:44 AM
They want the first three chapters.

kristie911
01-11-2007, 08:57 AM
The only dumb question is the one you don't ask. We've probably all wondered this when we started.

It's always the first three.

PeeDee
01-11-2007, 09:08 AM
It would just be confusing if you sent random chapters, wouldn't it? I mean, think of the summaries and explanatory notes you'd have to put in between the chapters just for the agent/editor to be able to read them with anything resembling coherence.

(Not arguing. Just musing. )

jodiodi
01-11-2007, 09:20 AM
Thank you for your help.

Maryn
01-12-2007, 09:29 PM
There was a long, and unintentionally hilarious, thread about this stemming from a writer who wanted to send the best three rather than the first three. Let me see if I can find it...

Edited to Add: Found it (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=47814).

Maryn, trotting off to look

jodiodi
01-12-2007, 09:37 PM
I have to admit, I was kinda hoping I'd stumbled upon a quirk that allowed the best three chapters myself. Thank you.

Shadow_Ferret
01-12-2007, 09:44 PM
I've always wondered about the arbitrary first 3 chapters bit. What if you start your book with tiny little chapters and you end up only sending them 3 pages? Hardly representative of the volume as a whole is it?

And what if your novel only has 3 chapters?

MidnightMuse
01-12-2007, 09:46 PM
But shouldn't every chapter be your best chapter?

Maryn
01-12-2007, 09:53 PM
I've always wondered about the arbitrary first 3 chapters bit. What if you start your book with tiny little chapters and you end up only sending them 3 pages? Hardly representative of the volume as a whole is it?I suspect the potential publisher would realize it's a pain to work with a smarty-pants ferret and reject you posthaste. If you'd rather they didn't, you'd send the first 40-50 pages, ending at some sort of natural stopping point.


And what if your novel only has 3 chapters?See above.

Maryn, who's also a smarty pants but unrelated to weasels

PeeDee
01-12-2007, 10:12 PM
There was a long, and unintentionally hilarious, thread about this stemming from a writer who wanted to send the best three rather than the first three. Let me see if I can find it...

Edited to Add: Found it (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=47814).

Maryn, trotting off to look


Oh yes. "Mug 'em or Seduce 'em." Also known as "Listen to Pete get irritated, stomp around, and declare damn silly fools to be damn silly fools."

In hindsight, that's a fun thread.

VGrossack
01-12-2007, 11:39 PM
Actually, it does not always mean the *first* three chapters. If you are writing non fiction, sometimes you can send three representative (OK, your very best) three chapters, along with the outline, and so on.

With a novel it should be the first three chapters. If you three chapters are very short, you may want to send more. You could consider aiming at 50 double-spaced pages. This is the number of pages that editors pass around after discussing a book in committee. If they don't like those 50 pages, then they won't bother reading more.

Kind regards
Victoria Grossack
www.tapestryofbronze.com

My-Immortal
01-12-2007, 11:43 PM
And what if your novel only has 3 chapters?

I guess that would be one way of sending the entire manuscript.... :)

(of course, I've often seen: send three chapters or the first fifty pages)

Take care -

Pamster
01-13-2007, 03:05 AM
So how long should chapters be? I know it's dependent on the type of work, but say for children's stories? Is 9-12 about right? And for fiction of other natures 10-15? Just curious since this question seems to fit right here, I too wondered what they meant with the 'sample chapters' and just never thought to ask. Glad you posted this jodiodi. ;)

PeeDee
01-13-2007, 03:07 AM
There's no set length that I've ever been aware of. I know when my stuff tends to have chapters between 10 and 15 pages in length, but that's just how the natural breaks fall. Sometimes they're longer, sometimes shorter.

jodiodi
01-13-2007, 05:35 AM
So how long should chapters be? I know it's dependent on the type of work, but say for children's stories? Is 9-12 about right? And for fiction of other natures 10-15? Just curious since this question seems to fit right here, I too wondered what they meant with the 'sample chapters' and just never thought to ask. Glad you posted this jodiodi. ;)

You're welcome. Now I don't feel like such a n00b.

My chapters tend to be between 7-12 pages on average, sometimes longer. They just end when the moment's right I suppose

Athena
01-13-2007, 09:26 AM
Jodiodi,
I love cliff hangers and dramatic bangs. I write to cliffies and structure my chapters around them.

In writing my current novel, I started out with the first chapter being around 20 pages because I knew where I wanted that chapter to end. Later on, as I wrote, I started to make shorter and shorter chapters.

I then went back and started carving up my chapters and making them shorter. It's weird but I find that it makes the narrative flow of the book easier to handle when things are broken up by having a chapter break rather than a


**


break to show a change of scene. Those types of things would necessitate a new chapter for me.

That was the one thing that I enjoyed the most about Dan Brown's The DaVinci Code were his cliffies and short chapters. I found myself going, "oh, I'll just read one more chapter. It's not long." Then I'd read the four pages or so and say, "I can't stop there."

So, it depends on your writing style. To give you an idea, I have 494 manuscript pages and 106 chapters. Some of the shortest chapters were only two paragraphs, while some of the longer chapters were over 10 pages.

See what works best for you.

Athena

PeeDee
01-13-2007, 09:31 AM
Heck, Stephen King has chapters that are only a word or two long. He has one chapter that went, I believe, shuffle. That's it.

And I think he's done okay for himself. So have at it. :)

Pamster
01-13-2007, 06:52 PM
Thanks everyone! I feel better now about having a couple chapters that were only 9 pages. :)