Oh hi. This is not another existential crisis!
As you’ve most likely derived from the title, I will be talking about chapter lengths in novels. It’s not something people consciously think about because in every novel the lengths are different.
For example, Fantasy novels are sometimes split into ‘parts’ with chapters within them to denote the start of another significant event in the storyline, and other novels just have chapters. I once read a novel where most of the chapters were a page or two long.
The inconsistency within an already published novel doesn’t bother me so much anymore. I think it gives the novel character, adds to the storyline, and says something about the author and their creativity.
So, if chapter lengths in published novels don’t bother me, why am I even writing this post?
It’s not other people’s works that make me question God himself, it’s my own!
If you haven’t heard, I’m writing a novel. Very fricking slowly might I add, but it’s coming together. You can read more about #Realise on Instagram highlights, my Twitter Thread, or in posts about the novel which are all over my blog.
A bit of background about #Realise (for those too lazy to read the other posts on here):
Realise – and it’s characters – was born in 2014, otherwise known as “The year I was introduced to Wattpad and One Direction FanFiction”. I wrote Realise because I couldn’t write FanFiction and wanted to produce something original but easy to write. The result was a 5 – 10 line-per-chapter story told in entierly dialogue that featured Jaz, Mum, Josh, Ed and Taylor. Everyone back in the days of Wattpad always her these edgy quote taglines, so for this story, I made the tagline:
“I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to love” – Jaz
It does make sense with the story, but reading the story now it sounds kinda lame. So in 2018, I decided to write the story into a proper novel for NaNoWriMo and failed miserably. Although I am now 11 chapters in and proud of what it has transformed into.
Back to my issue!
In #Realise, I have 10 finished chapters, having just started the 11th one yesterday – as mentioned in my latest tweet on the Twitter Thread. The only issue is, is that chapter 10 has a total of 7 FULL PAGES! That’s four more than my average number of pages in the other 9 chapters!
From chapter 1 to 9 the number of pages in each chapter is roughly 3 to 4 which is cool. I’m totally fine with that, I thought I’d established some awesome kind of consistency that would carry on throughout the novel and rid me of any anxiety.
BUT NOOOOOO… Apparently, as I was stuck on chapter 10, Realise decided that Jaz should have two breakdowns and take 3 pages to clean her fricking room! This made the entire chapter total to 7 FULL pages.
I don’t know if I’m madder that it’s so long or the fact that it took me almost a month to write???
So you may be telling me to just chop the chapter into two but I morally cannot do that and now I will deal with this problem child in my novel. Here are some things to consider…
Does consistency in chapters matter?
As I mentioned earlier, I really don’t think it matters. Instead, after reading many many novels over many years, I have come to the conclusion that it does three things for the novel.
- Gives the novel character.
- Adds to the storyline.
- Says something about the author and their creativity.
I came up with these with particular books in mind, including All The Light We Cannot See; Nevernight, Illuminae and Will Grayson, Will Grayson. The last one especially you see a split between authors David Levithan and John Green as they write a character/ chapter each (alternating) giving the characters a different voice.
Cases in which chapter diversity doesn’t work would be in situations where the chapters carry on forever! The only example I can think of would be Casual Vacancy by J. K. Rowling, where there are chapters in a split perspective novel where there are chapters based on a character that doesn’t add too much value to the story but keeps going on for the sake of domestic activity.
What are your thoughts on varying chapter lengths?
What do you prefer?
For the sake of writing, personally, I like to keep consistent because it just bothers me to see random length chapters in my document, but reading, I don’t mind.
This post is a mess and I know it. I just wanted to rant a little, maybe start a discussion with you all if you’d like. Comment down below what you like better – short or long chapters – and why?
I don’t really know why I can’t engage an audience in conversation in these posts. Maybe you all don’t like it and I totally understand it because I’m awkward commenting on people’s content. If you’d like these discussions maybe on Instagram, Twitter, or YouTube, please please let me know and I’ll make changes to do so xx
Do you prefer long or short chapters?
With Love Bree xx