Thursday, January 08, 2009

Informal Poll: Do you like them LONG or SHORT?

Oh for heaven's sake... remove your mind from the gutter.
I'm talking about Chapter Length. I'm struggling with this issue in my latest wip and would love some feedback...

I broke the sections into logical places, but now am worried that they're much too long. In terms of word count - they go from 2000 to just over 4000 - which puts some well over 12 pages (and writers: I'm still in Times dbl space -- haven't converted to NY standards yet so you know they'll be longer).

So tell me, readers and writers -- what do you prefer?

A) Long meaty chapters that let you fully escape into the writer's world

B) Short - couple-of-pages-only, so that staying up to read 'just one more chapter' doesn't take you a year

C) a combination of the two because you like the variety, or...

D) I've never paid attention / I just don't care

I appreciate any and all opinions :)

13 comments:

Susan Helene Gottfried said...

I'm going to be Trevor at his most helpful: They should be as long as they need to be.

In other words: go with what the story tells you. If it needs to be a short chapter full of action, go short. If you need more time to set something up and vest us in the situation, take it.

Don't write to some prescribed page length. Be true to your story.

Karen Erickson said...

Ack for me it just depends on what the book calls for. Some full lengths that I've written, the chapters have been long. I completed one a couple of months ago with rather short chapters. Sigh. I'm no help. LOL

Thomma Lyn said...

Yup, count me in as another "it depends on the story / the scene." One of my chapters in HC is twenty pages long. Another is two. They run the gamut.

Ann said...

I vote with the it depends crowd. FOr reading. For writing, my chapters tend to be long. Just like my word counts. :)

Wylie Kinson said...

SHG - excellent advice. Most of my chapters have more than one scene and in some cases, more than one pov, so I could easily chop them up a bit more... I'm just so unsure!! I know that sounds trivial, but in terms of pacing, it's not. Really. Is it? Maybe I should just finish the damn book and not worry about this stuff!! LOL

Karen - au contraire! You answer is very helpful. Thanks :)

TL - Personally, I like a variety. And I don't even notice unless I'm under time constraints... for instance -- I'll peek ahead to see how long a chapter is before delving in if I have something else I need doing. If it's too long, I'll put the book down. If it's a shorty, I'll push ahead.

Hi Ann -- thanks for weighing in :)
I also like long chapters because it lets me really escape into he story without be jolted by a hard break. But yeah... guess it depends on the story! LOL

Leah Braemel said...

wow, lots of ppl commenting later at night. Interesting.

You've already got the advice I'd give too, Wylie. But thought I should stop in and say "Hi"

Michelle (MG) said...

This is something I've wondered about as well. I try to make them all the same length, because I thought I was supposed to, but sometimes that just doesn't work. Great question!

Wylie Kinson said...

Hey MG! Thanks for stopping by. And I always thought they should be relatively constant as well, but I think my opinion is being swayed by the populus :)

J.K. Coi said...

I usually base it on a natural break in the story--or a place where I can put a hook to keep the reader going on to the next section.

Kristy said...

Can I say E for none of the above? I really like medium length ones. Medium to me is about 10 pages long, but no longer. That way I feel like I've read something if I have to stop, but not guilty if I fall asleep during the chapter. Yes, I know I'm wierd!

Jane said...

C. I like variety.

M. said...

I like the mix.

Personally, I've written chapters as short as four sentences, and as long as 25 pages. I thought that was what they needed, but I have had negative feedback about the very short ones. I stick to my guns on that one, because one of my favorite authors has a chapter that consists of a single word.

(Did I miss you today Wylie, or could you not make it to the meeting? Get this - I forgot to bring the book I bought for the speaker to sign! Duh! Luckily I won one of hers in the doorprize draw and she signed it instead.)

Shelley Munro said...

Yep. Nodding. Chapters should be as long as they need to be. Some of mine are long - up to 20 pages and others can be 10 pages. I just go with my gut instinct.
I've never had an editor say a chapter is too long or too short.