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Chapter lengths

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Should chapter lengths be roughly the same throughout the book? I'm having a hard time with this because I want my chapters to end logically and with somewhat of a cliffhanger, but some are half the length of other chapters.


Thanks for your input!  :thankyou
#1 - July 01, 2015, 01:52 PM

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I don't think they need to be the same. I have the odd chapters in my mg that are one word or a sentence, just for impact. And the rest are as long or as short as they need to be.

Are we talking middle grade? Because I think chapter books do need to be slightly more uniform, at least at the younger end of the range.  :eh2
#2 - July 01, 2015, 02:14 PM
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Thank you! I was initially asking for chapter book (I have some chapters that are page and a half, some two pages) but also for MG.
#3 - July 01, 2015, 03:35 PM

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I agree with Arty. Chapter lengths vary greatly - especially in MG. I'd keep chapter book chapters more uniform, though. One of my all time favorite books, Holes, has chapters that go from partial pages with lots of white space to more standard, longer chapters.
#4 - July 01, 2015, 10:39 PM

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I personally think that chapters could be any length that you need them to be to tell your story. But I have heard otherwise (from other writers, and editors.) I also favor short chapters.  But recently I have had some comments on the length of the chapters in my YA novel (that they are too short.) So I think some editors probably have their personal preferences.
#5 - July 02, 2015, 07:03 AM

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I would not worry so much about chapter lengths, especially in the first 10 drafts of the mg novel. :grin3 To me, concentrating on story, characters, the ups and downs of the arcs, and that when the chapters end, the reader wants to turn the page to find out what happens, are the things to worry about. The structure can be tweaked later, and changes will probably be suggested by your editor who will likely have more of a bird's eye view of the story.

That said, when you've got the manuscript to the point you're ready to submit, it's a good idea to know the word count and the purpose of each chapter. I write down both on index cards, chapter by chapter, because that helps me understand the elephant I'm dealing with in pieces. That way, obvious stuff will stick out and you'll have more of a visual handle on patterns and if you need to deal with them. For instance, if you have twenty chapters that are between 1500 and 2000 words, and then one chapter at 4000 words, that might be something to think about and address.

But again, at least for me, this comes later in the process.

 :goodluck
#6 - July 02, 2015, 07:44 AM
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Well for example I keep my chapters short, though mainly cause I'm experienced with flash fiction and longer short short stories. So essentially by referring to it as a flash fiction instead, I have a realistic idea of a doable chapter length.
#7 - July 10, 2015, 08:10 AM
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