Is it weird to have a really short chapter in a memoir?

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gettingby

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Most of my chapters are 4,000 to 6,000 words. I had been working with a mentor at the beginning who was encouraging me to write chapters that length. And I think it was a smart move for me with this particular book. But I've got this really short chapter (under 1,000 words) with a lot of punch. Sure, I could make it longer, but it probably wouldn't have the same impact. I'm trying to decide if this piece fits in at all. Maybe it doesn't. How weird would it be to have a really short chapter like this show up in the middle of a memoir?
 

Emily Winslow

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It sounds like it would really stand out, which could be just odd, or, if it's a significant moment, be powerful.

I would say leave it as it is and finish the rest of the book! Then you can see what the book looks like as a whole and decide if you're happy with that short chapter as it is.

You may end up with other short chapters too that make its presence more symmetrical, or with a better place to put it later as a flashback or flash-forward within a longer chapter.

For now, I would say carry on :)
 

Siri Kirpal

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Sat Nam! (literally "Truth Name"--a Sikh greeting)

There shouldn't be any problem with the chapter based on length. This is assuming the chapter fits your theme and/or purpose. Some chapters do need to be short in just about any genre.

Blessings,

Siri Kirpal
 

gettingby

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It sounds like it would really stand out, which could be just odd, or, if it's a significant moment, be powerful.

I would say leave it as it is and finish the rest of the book! Then you can see what the book looks like as a whole and decide if you're happy with that short chapter as it is.

You may end up with other short chapters too that make its presence more symmetrical, or with a better place to put it later as a flashback or flash-forward within a longer chapter.

For now, I would say carry on :)

The books pretty far along and I've been consistent with my chapter length and don't see changing. I really like this little snip-it. But this could be a case of having to kill your darlings.
 

gettingby

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Sat Nam! (literally "Truth Name"--a Sikh greeting)

There shouldn't be any problem with the chapter based on length. This is assuming the chapter fits your theme and/or purpose. Some chapters do need to be short in just about any genre.

Blessings,

Siri Kirpal

I'm going for a bit of consistency. It's working for me. I don't want chapter lengths that are all over the place. It was just this one piece that I was trying to decide on, but I will probably leave it out.
 

randi.lee

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No. Andrew Smith, a favorite author of mine, recently released a book with a 40-word chapter in it. They were 40 of the most powerful words I've read in a while. Do it!!
 

Brock Landers

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Not weird at all! Two of my favorite memoir/roman a clef type works don't even use chapters, just 5, 3, 2, even 1 page sections. A section, a few blank lines, a new section beginning with a large capital letter, and so on.
 

DavidG

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If what you have to say as part of your memoir doesn't warrant an expanded chapter, why bother. Just to fill a chapter for the sake of it wont help the storyline. I have just published my memoir and one of the chapters is less than one page long. I said what I had to say and moved on. My story as a whole is over 70,000 words and that short chapter fits in with the storyline.
 
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MichaelAnthony

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I think it can fit as long as it's the same size, or similar, to the other chapters. If you've got 10 chapters, nine of them really long, and one really short, it might seem odd. But if you've got short, punchy chapters, and they're all like that, then I think it still flows. I've got a memoir coming out in December and I've got 25 chapters and the longest chapter is probably between 4,000-5,000.
 

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