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The Lauderdale

Challenge accepted...and over


I thought you were challenging us to write a three million word story, not to find one. [amused]

3/21/2012 #31

It's 69 948 words per month. O.o

When I tried NaNoWriMo, I ended at 23 000.

Even if did nothing else but writing, I wouldn't be able to write that much. I once stayed at home and did nothing else but writing in order to write a chapter of 6k words, and I did, but I was so drained that just thinking of writing made me physically sick for next two months. :D

3/21/2012 #32

I wonder if anyone would take that advice and make a three-million word chapter...

It wouldn't work. Someone came on this forum and asked for help a few months back. Turned out he was trying to post a really, really long story as a single chapter - I think it was over a million words, though not as many as three million. The upload software couldn't handle it.

We advised him to break it up into chapters. I don't know whether it's on here or not now. The thread's probably still around, if anyone wants to look...

3/21/2012 #33

There is an upload file size limit of 9MB. Looking at one of my html files it's 9000 words and 50K filesize so that's 180,000 words per MB = 1,620,000 words. Now this is seriously rough so it could be anywhere between 1,500,000 and 2,000,000 words in one doc.

However, even if the uploader could upload 9MB without choking it doesn't mean the software could handle the text. I suppose one could paste in two or three bibles into the Doc Man editor to find out.

3/21/2012 #34
Corinne Tate

I was surprised to see my long story would have fallen in among the list of longest stories, at 501,000 words. That's probably with one or two percent filler (chapter titles and author's notes.) Let's just say, I don't want to do that again.

I'm glad to see this discussion, as I'd thought people liked longer chapters, and so I posted chapters from 7 - 12 K words, in an attempt to please the readers. I guess Now I'll try to dial it back and keep them below 7 k.

3/21/2012 #35
Sassy Lil Scorpio


Don't worry about pleasing the readers. Be concerned with pleasing yourself. Write for yourself. Some readers love long chapters, some love short chapters. In one of my multi-chaptered fics, I've had chapters as long as 20,000+ words, and some as short as 4,000+ words. One of my readers told me they love my long chapters. I was shocked, as I used to be worried that this would put off many readers. It turns out some readers did enjoy long chapters. I'm sure some didn't, but that's fine. I wrote the chapter based on the ideas I wanted to flesh out---not based on the length. At the end of the day, remember to write for yourself and please yourself first. If you are satisfied posting chapters between 7-12K words, then go for it. There's an audience for any and everything on FFN. Just remember to be happy with what you write and post. Writer, first, Readers, second.

3/22/2012 #36
That Way

I'm sorry if bumping old topics is discouraged, but I thought this thread was interesting and wanted to comment.

Obviously this is pretty subjective. But, based on what I've seen, 3k-4k words per chapter is pretty ideal for a new story/author. It's lengthy enough to feel substantial if the readers have been waiting days/weeks/months for it, but not so long that it appears intimidating to new readers or takes a huge chunk of time out of someone's day to read.

Personally, the longer the chapter, the better in my experience. Some of the stories I follow are updated once every 3 months, so I want to get as much as possible every chance I can get. The best active fic I'm reading has chapters averaging 20k words/chapter. I may not always be able to read it immediately in one-go, but it's so good that I always find a way to set enough time aside to read it. Actually I don't even read fics under 1000 words as a general rule and usually won't bother with chaptered fics with chapter lengths under 1000 words on average either. I guess I just don't find anything shorter than that long ENOUGH to really draw me in, even if the writing is good.

I am naturally very verbose in my writing. In my original fiction I labor over every sentence and word and keep them as short and concise as possible. When I started writing fanfiction, I kind of saw it as a break, a way to write that was more 'pleasure' than 'work.' So I just wrote whatever felt right. The first few chapters of my fic were about 6k words and I thought that was a good length. One of the first reviews I got was from a very well-respected writer in my fandom offering me advice, recommending that I start out with shorter chapters to draw readers in and slowly build up to lengthier chapters once readers had been 'hooked' by the plot/characters.

I thanked her for her advice but went ahead and ignored it. Instead of getting shorter, my chapters actually got lengthier as I continued as more plots and subplots developed and more original characters were introduced and now they average between 9k-12k words per chapter (the longest was just under 14k including the author's notes). I've had a few complaints/critiques about the length of the chapters and I would bet I've lost some potential readers who turned away after seeing the average chapter length, but I'm okay with that. Good writing will win-out in the end and I'm quite proud with the readership I've built up over the last 6 months without compromising my 'vision.' And if someone doesn't want to read my stories because they take more than ten minutes to read, I don't think it's much of a loss.

For my second story though I've been trying to practice the same writing style I use in my original fiction (bare-bones physical description and little-to-no going inside the characters' heads and showing their thoughts, relying instead on dialogue and implied tension to drive the story) and as a result the chapters are 2,500-3000 words so far and it's a nice change of pace from my first fic. Funny that I spend as much time on the 3k words/chapter fic as I do on the 10k words/chapter fic.

6/3/2012 #37

Bumping old topics is highly encouraged :)

Not that I bring much new - my stance is the same as it has been. But it is interesting to see another view. I have, from fear of being too long, divided some of my chapter. I don't think I would have if it was published on paper, but I find it tiresome to read long on-screen, so I think it is a little bit different. But I agree that under 1000 words in a chaptered fic is usually too short for me.

I do read short stuff, though. There are some very good vignettes out there, and some amazing drabbles.

6/3/2012 #38

Yeah - when this thread started I resolved to aim for 3 to 6K chapters but they do tend to shape themselves I find so the first four chapters of my current fic are 2.5, 3, 5, 3 but then it went 6 and 7.7. Now I've just uploaded a 9K. It just can't be split and pruning it would be a crime. Still in principle, I still aim for 3 to 6 and would split or expand a chapter if it would work sensibly.

Theoretically 200 chapters of 1K ought to get more hits than 20 of 10K.

6/3/2012 #39

Well, as a reader, I find that chapters that are too long to read in one shot (I am a fairly fast reader and and can usually read a published novel in about ten minutes at most) then it is hightly doubtful that I'll return to finish reading the chapter later since it is difficult to find you place on screen where as in a paper book you can fold a page down or leave a bookmark so that you can find where you left off at. On screen, say that the chapter would have been 15 pages on paper (just throwing that number out there for an example) and you had to walk away and do something else on page 11, if you had to pull the page up later you would be forced to do a lot of scrolling to try to locate something that looks familiar to your last passage that you read. No if there was a way to bookmark a certain passage then I would have no problem with reading long chapters. But alas, I don't want to waste my reading time that I have just trying to find my place to start. That is why I personally won't even start a story with excessively long chapters. I know that I won't be able to come back and finish them. I've found that reading on-line is different than reading a hard copy since it is much easier to grab a paragraph and go if need be between dr's appointments or picking up the kids.

Let's face it, we all live busy lives and the luxury to just sit back and read a good book/story is limited. I try to keep that in mind when I write. I'll look at my chapter and ask myself, "Would I need to pull this up more than once, at the most twice, to finish reading this chapter?" If the answer is yes, then I try to find a natural break in the story and go ahead and post the chapter. Notice I said NATURAL break. Usually I may just decide to break it between scene changes since I know all too well that you can not force a chapter to end in the middle of a scene. If I have an overly long chapter but can split it like that then I'm likely to go ahead and post both "chapters" at once so that those that can sit and read the whole thing at once can but those that can't will still be able to get a good start on the read as well. Basically when I write here I try to be reader friendly. That doesn't mean that I have to limit my vision for my story. Only that I may need to blink at it instead of staring straight ahead. ;)

6/3/2012 #40

It would be nice if web browsers would let us right click a place in a web page and on the menu popup is an option Bookmark this point. This is what I do as a workaround...

Create a plain text file named eg, stories.txt on desktop or somehow handy.

If you want to break off half way through reading a chapter...

Select the address in the address bar. Ctrl C to copy it.

Paste it in the text file.

Select some very distinctive few words close to where you've read. Ctrl C to copy

Paste it in the text file next to the address.

A comment can be added optionally.

To resume you copy and paste the address back (Editpad lets you just double click it) then copy the words and do Edit / Find in the web browser.

You can manage your stories this way. Divide up the text file with rows of = = = etc and type some headers FINISHED STORIES , ABANDONED STORIES. ETC.

6/3/2012 #41

I used to C&P onto a word document onto my computer to save for later but I would feel guilty that had someone else's work on my computer. **Shrug** When I did that I would mark in bold where I left off. Of course during that time there were a lot of quality writers in my favorite fandom that were posting on a regular basis. I would take my lap top and read off of the documents during my ten minute breaks and it was clear that if I only read what I could in ten minutes then I wouldn't be reading much at all. Lately that hasn't been the problem since those writers have left the fandom over all and I find myself reading less and less in it since I only seem to be disappointed when I try to read something new. Still, I try to keep those days in mind where I had more stories that I wanted to read than I had time to read them so that I can relate to my readers who are pressed for time and won't or can't take an extra step to finish a long chapter.

6/3/2012 #42

Usually I may just decide to break it between scene changes since I know all too well that you can not force a chapter to end in the middle of a scene.

If you know what you're doing, you can cut the chapter short in the middle of a scene, creating incredible cliffhangers. And there are some things that are just too big to not split up(especially if your chapters are normally short). Example: The chapter begins with the protagonists chasing a blimp. T271hey begin raiding the blimp and end up caught.1 They then manage to escape the villains custody2 and assault the blimp with their allies.1 The blimp then goes boom and crashes, damaging the allied airship2 as they attempt to land.

This totals around 6000 words(with my chapter average being 2500), maybe a bit more. The bold 1's indicate a possible chapter split, the bold 2's indicate where I actually split it. Note that the third chapter goes on for a lot longer about some unrelated events.

6/4/2012 #43

Oh, I've left cliff hangers before but sometimes a chapter just doesn't warrant a cliff hanger. I hate reading stories where the writer THINKS they are creating an awesome cliff hanger but in actuality they have just broken a scene in a way that will make the reading of the story seem choppy.

6/4/2012 #44

I don't think there's any hard-and-fast "ideal number" that serves as the maximum length for a good chapter of a fanfic. I do feel that at some point you're likely to get into territory where "the longer this chapter is, the more likely it's TOO long," but "more likely" is not the same thing as "definitely making a mistake here!"

I'm not even sure where the point would be that you cross over into "probably getting longer than necessary." Ultimately, the author has to make his own decisions in each case, based on his own understanding of what he's trying to accomplish here. Other people aren't likely to know more about his intentions than he does.

However, this thread did prompt me to do a little hasty research to see how long I usually let things get. I decided to concentrate on my one-shot fanfics. As it happens, I've posted an awful lot of them.

Looking at my word counts just now, and ignoring the occasional poem, I see 4 that are in the range of 1000-1999 words, 8 that are in the range of 2000-2999 words, 3 that are in the range of 3000-3999 words, 5 that are in the range of 4000-4999 words, and 3 more that are in the 5000-5999 range.

In fact, my longest one-shot has MORE hits than any other one-shot of mine, and is tied for second place in the category of "one-shots with the most reviews" (14). Evidently its length (5929 words) is not scaring everybody off. (Although I wouldn't be too surprised if I somehow learned that it has OCCASIONALLY scared people off -- but at the moment, I have no way of knowing for sure!)

In each of my one-shots, the story concept was such that I very much wanted to have it all presented at once for full effect. In other words, as a package deal with no artificial interruptions (such as chapter breaks) to disrupt the flow for the reader as he or she read the entire thing in one session (or so I hoped). When I look at the titles of the three stories "over 5000 words" in particular, I know I would have HATED to break 'em up into two smaller chapters.

Even if one of my longer one-shots had broken the 6000 mark, I don't think I would have changed my attitude. On the other hand, if the final draft of any of those three had turned out to be, say, over 10,000 words, then before posting it on this site I probably would have seriously reexamined the question of "does this really NEED to be a one-shot instead of a two-parter?" (Even if I didn't change my mind, I'd at least have done some extra soul-searching on the subject before making a final decision.)

But in ongoing serial narratives, I believe my typical chapter is less than 4000 words. Sometimes a lot less. (However, that is not any sort of hard-and-fast rule. Each story has its own set of circumstances.)

For what it's worth, I can usually read 4000 words of someone else's story within 10 minutes (although I haven't really timed myself lately, so I may have gotten faster -- or slower -- when I wasn't looking!).

6/4/2012 #45

I once Googled this question and found that sometimes it depends on what kind of a story you're writing. For instance, for mysteries or thrillers, short chapters are better because it keeps the reader turning the page, whereas for historical dramas longer chapters are needed for all the detail. Whether or not this is true I don't know, because I've never bothered to actually look or pay attention. I've read books that have chapters that are super long and books with chapters that are ridiculously short (like a paragraph). I think it's kind of neat and quirky to have unusually short chapters, but it might get weird after a while.

I've come to discover that my ideal chapter length--when I'm writing--is 3500 words. Not too long and not too short in my opinion. I try not to let it fall under 3000 words, and try to avoid anything more than 5500 words, but I don't stick to it religiously. I'm not sure, but I have this feeling that readers usually don't like really longer chapters, so I'm trying to keep them in mind.

6/4/2012 #46
Colonel Cooper

It seems like every post from the last couple of days has been about the two P's - purge and petition - so I thought I'd bump this thread up, not because I've written a multi-chapter story, but because I almost did. My longest one-shot is just over 10,000 words with the A/N, and all through the writing stage it was in two chapters, of about four and six thousand words. Only in the final edit did I come to the realization that it didn't really need to be two chapters, the story was contained in one scene, so the break seemed forced. So I got rid of it, and have yet to write anything with more than one chapter! Maybe it's a little long, but I still think I made the right decision.

I'm reading a multi-chapter story in my fandom, at the moment, where each chapter averages just over 1,200 words - and it feels like I'm reading bare bones, that there isn't enough meat in each chapter. So what's the perfect length for a chapter? For me, it seems to be anywhere between 1,200 and 10,000 - which seems to tally with what most people have been saying in this thread!

6/7/2012 #47
Birdy Main

Ideal length? As long as a novel. XD Not realistic, but I don't think there should be a specific length, I once read a fic that posted one paragraph for a chapter, and another that posted no more then three or four, both were awesome.

6/7/2012 #48

Historically my chapters have ranged from 1,500 to about 10,500 words I think?

Now, I probably average about 8,000 words, with most chapters between 7,500 and 9,000 words? (my main multi-chapter fic) I cut a chapter off where I think it needs to be cut off. I don't go by word count. But, if it starts to approach what I deem to be *too long* (up to 10,000 words and beyond) then I look for a place to cut it off...

I'd be disappointed to learn that the *long* (that's subjective...) length of my chapters puts people off, although I'm sure it's inevitable.

I guess the more serious (and hopefully more mature) readers who are able to sit and read for a good twenty minute stretch will not have a problem reading an entire chapter in one sitting.

I'm not saying that all young people have no attention span, but perhaps it is more common of them to want short chapters for this reason. I guess it all works out, as my writing is more aimed toward the older people on this site (older teens and up).

In terms of what *I* prefer for chapter length, well, if I'm enjoying something, I don't want it to end :p I'll be quite pleased if it goes on forever.

6/7/2012 . Edited 6/7/2012 #49

I think it has a lot to do with the medium. A long chapter in a book is spread over a number of pages, giving the reader the impression that they are progressing as they turn the page. However, long chapters on this site are on a single page, spread across an entire screen and require scrolling, which can make you lose your place, to continue reading.

Honestly, a page system like the Kindle has would be nice, but I realise it would be difficult to implement the format on a site this big.

6/7/2012 #50
Maddyson Ruby

I agree that a page system of some sort would be good so you as a reader have a sense of progression and getting through the story. It can be a bit tedious for some chapter being so long and seeming rather never-ending. I once found a fic in the Narnia fandom and the chapters were so extensive (35000) that I just gave upo with reading. Most of it seemed like padding for the story and gave no benefit to me as a reader.

In my current story my chapters vary from 850 words to 2500 at the moment. That is just because there seemed like natural breaks in those place and otherwise it tended to not flow together well. For some fics I'm reading I find myslef dreading the end of the chapter because not much happens to satisfy me. ON one hand that's good because I'm guaranteed to come back for more but it does get annoying feeling so disatisfied. What do you think?

6/8/2012 #51

I think 2,000 - 6,000 word length is ideal for me. That being said, it depends on the story and what is in the chapter. When writing a chapter, one shouldn't concentrate on the word length but end it when it "feels" right and natural to do so. There are stories out there that are drabbles that have very short chapters BUT it works for that story. I've seen chapters entirely too long where it could've easily been broken in half and it would not have taken anything away from the story. I like ending on a cliffhanger to keep readers on the edge of their seats.

6/8/2012 #52
Amelia the GodModder

An ideal chapter would be about 2-5k words, especailly if the story is long. I don't think anyone should actually be forced to limit the number of words per chapter, though.

11/30/2012 #53

Word count is an unreliable means of measuring the actual length of something. Most word counters count 5 characters as one word, some including spaces/punctuation, some not. Theoretically, an author who writes 7,500 word chapters could be putting in the same effort as someone writing only 3,750 words, using longer words or using punctuation to their advantage. Especially if that author writing 3,750 words per chapter writes with concision; for them writing 8 sentences in 200- "words"--and writing a GOOD 8 sentences--would be no great feat. The latter option is rare, especially in fanfiction, but it happens.

That said, I am the writer's worst nightmare of a reader. I cannot stand short, bloated chapters or long, empty ones. I have no patience for multi-chapter stories, but I hate one shots. I find concision lacking in terms of imagery, but when details are there I skim them. So take my advice with little more than a grain of salt. :)

11/30/2012 #54
Princess Skye Jewel

I seldom have a target number of words per chapter. I like short ones since it feels light to my eyes, but I also like long ones 'cause it's a little good that I'm not clicking previous, next and whatsoever. I think around 1000 words are enough, as long it has paragraphs.

11/30/2012 #55

Well, I suppose that the ideal chapter length would determine on the skill level of the writers. For me, I couldn't read more than about a thousand words in one sitting if the writer struggles with basic grammar and putting thoughts on paper. However, when reading a story of a higher caliber, a thousand words would only leave me feeling very empty as a reader. So far on my only chapter story my chapters average about 3,400 words. Anything less would rush the story or would (At best) only be enough to post a scene rather than a whole chapter. That would then raise that chapter count that just might keep others from reading it once it is completed if the number gets extremely high. As for my last chapter, I had an entire extra scene that I had planned to put in my last chapter but by the time I got to it I decided to hold off until my next chapter since if I had added the scene to the one I posted yesterday it would have easily sent the word count to twice as high as the other two chapters. To me, a chapter 6000-7000 words in one sitting is just a bit too much.

11/30/2012 #56

When I first started writing the fic that I'm currently on, I thought to let the average of the first couple chapters decide where I want my general word count to be. I'm no longer interested in keeping my chapters uniform at all, that's too much to worry about , no one is going to be checking to see if I wrote a thousand words more or less than the last chapter.

So for, I'm around 7500 words a chapter, the one I'm writing now seems to be hitting 8k. I would rather not write such long chapters, but I can't fit the entire idea neatly in so little words.

I imagine my chapters as the episodes of a series, rather than random excerpts from the story, posted in order.

I read webcomics often, and the stop and go nature of the reading can get really annoying. Some artists are pretty skilled at making every page count, making every post worth reading by it'self. Some aren't so good at this, some depict a fight scene, each blow in a different page. Another illustration I could use, is if a TV series cut off at the commercial break entirely, and you had to wait until the next day for the rest of the episode!

I'd like to knock it down to 5k, but by getting better at expressing an idea faster, not by chopping up those ideas.

12/1/2012 #57

Everyone's opinion is different. I, personally, love short chapters. It's how I've always read (since I was a kid) and how I now write. It's like following Dan Brown or James Patterson, who often times write short chapters (anywhere from maybe 1-10 pages long). As others here have said, it really depends on what's happening in that scene (or scenes). What are you trying to convey?

12/3/2012 #58

Thats around 350-3500 words.

I like reading short chapters in some books, but fan-fiction is a little different, people tend not to update for at least a week. I couldn't read just 350 words, and wait until next week, or even the next day to read the next part. I don't think you could write an entire idea in that few of words, at all. I'd probably forget all about it by the time it updated.

With a book, I can definitely see the advantage to shorter chapter . . . good stopping point to go grab a soda.

I prefer the chapter to be that short, if Im not really that interested in what I'm reading.

12/3/2012 #59

I'm writing a fanfic at the moment, the problem is it's very fast paced and back and forth alot.

In order to break the story up into each scene, my chapters would be only between 400 and 800 words long, but the entire chapter probably equals a good 6000 words.

Which is preferable?

1/10/2013 #60
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