Writerly Post Wednesday is a weekly segment where I talk about everything writing.
Hello, all, on this fine wintry Wednesday.
Today I’m opening up the glorious topic of chapter lengths, which can divide many readers and writers alike.
Funnily enough, I used to struggle to make my chapters long. I thought that having long chapters was so cool and professional . . . but as I’ve grown a bit more in writing, I realize that’s just not true at all. Essentially, I don’t believe that chapter length matters much at all, but I would love to hear your opinions on the matter. Below, there’s a poll you can answer!
With the recent novel that I’m working on, I’ve found that my chapters are long. The only problem is that I don’t know where to split them. I feel like I’ve ended them in the right place, but they’re just so massive. Take this, for example: Chapter One is 8,467 words; Chapter Two is a whopping 11,793 words; Chapter Three is 11,149 words. In this novel, though, there are a lot of “breaks” as it switches point of views.
In another of my novels, The Sweetest Sorrows of Ava Hale, there are no chapters at all. I mean, in the earlier versions of the draft I split it up into chapters because it was just easier to post on my Wattpad, but as I wrote subsequent drafts, I realized that made no sense. The novel is written as a letter — and letters don’t have chapters. So essentially there’s just one 59k chapter.
I must be crazy, yes?
Probably. Most likely. Well, yes, I am. So today I am asking you the question: How long of a chapter would you be willing to read? And which do you prefer, long or short?
Short chapters —
Short chapters can be good in keeping a novel snappy and fast-paced, quick and easy to read. However, if the chapters are too short, then the novel might come across as clipped and disjointed. I love short chapters. But I also love long chapters, too. Sometimes it’s good to have a mixture of both, you know? It keeps the novel fast-paced and interesting, yet also remains evenly paced, not coming across as rushed.
Long chapters —
At first glance, long chapters used to make me cringe. I don’t even know why, really, perhaps it was just because the size of the chapter was daunting. Now I love reading long chapters. What changed? I think maybe I just grew used to them. But as long as the words in the chapter are interesting enough . . . what does it matter how long the chapter is??