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WEbook's superstore for talking shop: colons vs. semicolons; dialogue format; point of view. And everything in between.
Posted: 7/6/2013 9:11 AM PDT
I have tried to research this and have found some things that may help and a lot that don't.
This is a running argument and I say it depends. There are those whose only concern is creativity. I applaud them for they have little interest in whether their work is read. They don't even need to post their projects, the joy is in the creating.
At the other end are the cookie cutter writers who write purely by formula. There is little creativity in these books. Nora Roberts has over 200 hundred books cataloged She's been published since 1980. That means she writes 7 books a year. I often wonder if she doesn't have a database of her chapters that she cuts and pasts from then changes names and places and a few facts to fit the other cookie cutter chapters. (This is an exaggeration of course, not an accusation). Unfortunately a lot of romance novels are like this along with cheap "dime store" crime and western novels.
Back to chapter length. I googled a lot for this.
One thing I heard was that most books have 8 - 10 pages per chapter and 220 words per page. I look at "The Half Blood Prince", that is sitting on my desk, and Rowling's chapters are 16-20 pages.
I think we can be secure with the 220 words per page. It is the majority consensus. This is book page not MS Word page.
There is one thing that isn't talked about much in detail. Who is the target audience? I don't mean adult verses child although that too is a factor. I mean, is the reader someone who finds 15 minutes here and there or reads themselves to sleep at night. The reader could be like myself, who reads for hours until their head jerking up falling asleep. This obviously is a much more difficult task to measure. Genre plays a part in it as well. Those of us who read fantasy are in it for the long haul. Most stories are, at the least, trilogies. The "Sword of Truth" saga had 13 books (if I remember correctly) each book containing 700-1000 pages. Jordan's "Wheel of Time was at 13 books the last I read and I'm still waiting for it to finish. Long chapters are not a factor in adult fantasy.
For the rest I think we need to look at reading speed. The average reader reads 250-300 words per minute with 70% comprehension (scientifically tested ). If your target reader grabs 10 or 15 minutes at a time to read then the math says 250*10=2500 words/220 = 11 or 12 pages per chapter, the low end. 15*300=4500 words/220=20 pages per chapter at the high end. My chapters tend to be 3000 - 3500. I have written chapters with 6000+ words and have been scolded for it.
But, of course the standard rule still applies "The chapter ends itself." Each chapter has a life of it's own. A beginning and an end and it's length can not be bound by a set standard rules.
Posted: 6/9/2013 11:33 AM PDT
I would say a chapter needs to be as long as it needs to be. If you start setting rigid rules when writing I find it kills any creativity.
Posted: 5/27/2013 6:54 PM PDT
I don't think there is a limit. It probably depends on what you're writing. I mean, some kinds of fiction (assuming you're talking about fiction) have long chapters, and some don't. I always just write whatever I want to write.
Posted: 4/17/2013 10:53 AM PDT
How many words are a chapter on webook? How many per page?