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Writer's Room => Chapter Books, Easy Readers, and Middle Grade (MG) => Topic started by: crystal205 on June 06, 2018, 09:47 AM

Title: Number of Pages in a Chapter for MG
Post by: crystal205 on June 06, 2018, 09:47 AM
Hi,
I'm writing a Middle Grade book for the first time. How many pages approximately should be in a chapter for a MG?
Title: Re: Number of Pages in a Chapter for MG
Post by: mrh on June 06, 2018, 10:30 AM
If you're talking manuscript pages, I personally follow a "10 or fewer" rule, and it's often 6-8 or so. Chapters for younger MG might be consistently shorter.
Title: Re: Number of Pages in a Chapter for MG
Post by: Melody on June 06, 2018, 10:58 AM
For upper MG you are probably okay going up to 12 pages, maybe even 14 max. You just don't want any one chapter to be too long for young readers. Make sure you are reading lots of books in the level you are writing for, so you get a feel for chapter length, etc.
Title: Re: Number of Pages in a Chapter for MG
Post by: 217mom on June 06, 2018, 12:59 PM
What they said^^.  :yup

I should add that there are wonderful books that have chapters that are shorter than half a page and chapters that are four-five pages in the same book. (Olive's Ocean by Kevin Henkes, a Newbery honor book ,comes to mind.) But these are by established successful and experienced writers who do not fear breaking rules and don't have the same hoops to get through.

 I mention this because while the upper limit is sound (I'd say ten and under is a good way to think of it) if you write with a strong literary grasp of the forms you can do unusual things, and more writerly power to you.
Title: Re: Number of Pages in a Chapter for MG
Post by: crystal205 on June 06, 2018, 01:18 PM
Great! Thanks so much, everyone!
Title: Re: Number of Pages in a Chapter for MG
Post by: Debbie Vilardi on June 06, 2018, 06:09 PM
I like to think of chapters as mini stories. Each has a theme occurring over one or more scenes. I switch to a new chapter when the theme changes. Some chapters are longer than others.

Consider the reading experience you want. Consistent chapter lengths are better for some books (chapter books are often this way). Short chapters may make the read feel quicker. Longer chapters may give the book a denser feeling. (It depends on what's in the chapters, of course.)

I could write another whole paragraph on how chapters end: cliffhangers or not. It will depend on the type of book.

Ask yourself why you are breaking the text into chapters in the first place. Some books just have sections with no breaks (although they may not be middle grade.) My point is that you have to think of the book as a whole and what you want the book to be when you decide about chapters.
Title: Re: Number of Pages in a Chapter for MG
Post by: SarahW on June 30, 2018, 01:54 PM
If you're talking manuscript pages, I personally follow a "10 or fewer" rule, and it's often 6-8 or so. Chapters for younger MG might be consistently shorter.

Interesting, I use to go for something closer to around four pages per chapter. Or roughly 1,000 words. Altogether this would mean a book of about 16,000 to 18,000 words.

I like to think of chapters as mini stories. Each has a theme occurring over one or more scenes. I switch to a new chapter when the theme changes. Some chapters are longer than others.

Consider the reading experience you want. Consistent chapter lengths are better for some books (chapter books are often this way). Short chapters may make the read feel quicker. Longer chapters may give the book a denser feeling. (It depends on what's in the chapters, of course.)

I could write another whole paragraph on how chapters end: cliffhangers or not. It will depend on the type of book.

Ask yourself why you are breaking the text into chapters in the first place. Some books just have sections with no breaks (although they may not be middle grade.) My point is that you have to think of the book as a whole and what you want the book to be when you decide about chapters.

Debbi! That's brilliant. Not only is that to me does it make it easier to hold a reluctant reader's attention, but it can also train one for word brevity, and how to use words in an efficient way.

Before I started middle grade, I had done flash fiction for a long time. I also studied poetry as well, particularly Eastern forms like Haiku, Senryu, and Tanka. Cinquains are good too. But also a seven point structure that allowed me to structure each chapter as an independant story.
Title: Re: Number of Pages in a Chapter for MG
Post by: jodyjl on June 30, 2018, 02:10 PM
I like Debbie's way of thinking of each chapter as a mini-story with it's theme. I should consider that.

In my first novel, my chapter lengths vary considerably, but I like shooting for the 1000 word-mark give or take 200 words.

I can say that my students LOVE books with short chapters, and I kind of do as well.

Good luck with your first MG novel.

Jody