Saturday, 19 July 2008

Chapter Length

Ok so what is the correct chapter length?

I've being trying to keep my chapters between 2000 - 3000 words in length. Some chapters have come in just under this, and some have slipped over.

Regular blog readers will know I've just finished Stealing Light by Gary Gibson, a book I really enjoyed. In Stealing light, Gibson's chapter length varies quite considerably. I don't have any word counts but there is one very short chapter which is just two pages in length. That puts it at about 500+ words assuming 250 words per page, and tet, another chapter was easily about a tenth of the book.

Gibson's longer chapters dealt with major events, and his shorter chapters were just small, but important scenes.

What does this tell those of us (like me) who agonise of the correct length of a chapter?

A chapter needs only be long enough or short enough to deal with the part of the story it conveys. A chapter is after all a collection of related scenes, and the length of the chapter is completely arbitrary. The best part of all this is that it is completely up to us, as the authors of the work, how long a scene or a chapter is. Yay!

There are some excellent articles on scene creation on the Web but the I find most useful are Holly Lisle's and Randy Ingermanson's.

Any thoughts on this? How long are your chapters?

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