Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Does Length Matter?

No, not that! I'm talking about length of chapters. Short chapters make for a faster pace, but it's not unusual to have longer chapters in historicals.

In my current WIP I struggled to leave each chapter with a "hanging" ending that hopefully makes the reader want to continue reading. However, with editing and polishing, they have grown a wee bit long. So, I've decided it's time to go back through and recut my chapters. Over 60 pages in three chapters is too much.

As a reader, do you have a preference on chapter length? Does it matter with the genre or sub-genre you're reading?


Karen Beeching said...

Chapter length doesn't matter to me. In fact, I don't like chapters that are only a few pages long. I'm not sure why but I just don't feel like those kind give me enough time to get into a scene or a character's head. I also prefer, as you mentioned, to have some kind of "hanging" suspense at the end of the chapter and I try for that as well in my own books.


Christy said...

I don't like really long chapters. I don't know how many times I've been in the middle of a chapter and stopped to count how far it was to the end. That may say something about how interesting the book was, but most likely it was because I needed to do something and I wanted to get to the end of the chapter before I stopped reading.

I like a 12-15 page chapter in my reading and writing.

Kathy said...

I've read that chapters should vary in length but I don't particularly care how long a chapter is, myself. I write historicals and, like you, Debbie, find some going on too long. Sometimes, it's hard to find the right place to break. But it's always better to leave the reader hanging once you do.


JoAnn said...

As a reader, I don't care how long chapters are. The only time I really notice them is when the breaks seem contrived -- and then I usually stop reading the book! When I was targeting category, I tried very hard to follow the rules--or rather, guidelines-- of the particular line. Now, I break them in the most logical place.

Carla Swafford said...

At one time, I kept my chapters between 15 and 25 manuscript pages. Not too long ago, a friend of mine (not a writer) said she hated long chapters because she didn't like to put a book down inbetween chapters. Too hard to remember where she left off. That got me to thinking about it, so I decided to try to keep them at around 15 pages. I break up chapters with scenes anyway. So far its worked out okay. It even makes the story move faster.