Writers Anonymous
Writers, come in. Talk about your stories, problems, any advice you need, critique, etc. You don't have to be good, you just need to want to write! Fanfic or original fic writers, all are welcome. Read the rules before posting or risk Rhea's displeasure.
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Lux Hart
my chapters would be only between 400 and 800 words long, but the entire chapter probably equals a good 6000 words.

My vote goes for the 6k chapters. The idea for a chapter is a self-contained chunk of story and, while it can work on occasion, I don't see a 400-800 word scene fitting this definition by and large. Yes, 6k chapters will turn off some viewers, but so will the 1k.

1/10/2013 #61
JadedPhoenixBurning

I knew one writer that would load a chapter in separate uploads to keep the screen size managable.

Chapter one, part one

Chapter one, part two

Chapter one, part three

Chapter two, part one

Chapter two, part two

She then would upload all three at the same time so those that could read more at a time could read it all in one swoop but those that couldn't were able to find their places easier if they had to leave and return later. Each part were somewhere between 2000 to 3000 words. I'm thinking of adopting this method for my next story.

1/10/2013 #62
Chris Boyce

I've seen people recommend lengths such as 2500-3000, but I've never written any chapter in that range. These days I tend to go for around 1500, which seems to be reasonably digestible by the fandom. I used to go for 5000 or so, which worked in the context of a much longer novel, but even in that I had one or two 1500ish word chapters, such as the prologue.

I tend to write in scenes, each of something like 700-800 words, so these days two scenes make up most of my chapters: works for me, other folk work differently.

There are stories out there (too many) where the writer has flowed with words. The chapters might be 10000 words, but say almost nothing: most of it being filling. Other writers may write 1000 words, but they might make every word count and those 1000 words are far more satisfying. Its perfectly possible to write great complete stories in considerably less than 750 words. Though any great story, of any length, is rare.

I suggest writers stop worrying about it and write the chapters they feel work best for them and their story.

1/11/2013 #63
L. C. Whitcroft
My chapters uselessly fall between 1500 and 3000, I think that's a nice number. Chapters that are too long turn me of, I know that's bad on my side but i uselessly don't have that much time to read. I never get past three chapters, then I have to bookmark and read the rest later.

You're spot on. This is the common length for publishing houses. However, here, write it how long or short you want it. I'll still read it if it's good.

1/12/2013 #64
taerkitty

I knew one writer that would load a chapter in separate uploads to keep the screen size managable.

Chapter one, part one [snip!]

She then would upload all three at the same time so those that could read more at a time could read it all in one swoop but those that couldn't were able to find their places easier if they had to leave and return later. Each part were somewhere between 2000 to 3000 words. I'm thinking of adopting this method for my next story.

This is what I try to do.

I write for a manga fandom, and, while I can't duplicate the "turn the page, turn the page, turn the page" pace that comes from a visual medium, I keep my chapters short because I want the reader to have to do something at frequent intervals. I try to keep to a general tempo, even though the canon doesn't have a set page length per chapter, or set chapter count per volume.

My story is a serial, a series of short stories. Each builds on the previous, or lays out foundation for future stories. Each story is five chapters, and an epilogue. Each chapter is between 900 and 1800 words. I'd try to keep the length more consistent, but I'm not that deft a writer. The epilogue is a very short chapter and usually is a dramatic change in scope or setting.

It also helps that each chapter in a given short story has a common naming scheme. For one, all the chapters were named "(word beginning with the letter 'M') Day". Another was "The (word beginning with 'A')". A third has "Two (noun)".

This way, someone who 'sets down' the story after a chapter break has a pretty good chance of finding his or her place upon pulling down the chapter list. "Let's see, I was at the "(Gerund) Up" short story, and I stopped after the third chapter."

As with your example author, I'd only post after I have the entire short story written (with one exception when I was blocked and wanted to ask some friend to provide suggestions, so I posted two chapters and we hashed it out on an IM.)

1/14/2013 #65
quasipheobus

Okay, seeing as I don't know how to post on this topic without replying, I think that the ideal chapter length is at least 5000 words. I read on my non-touchy phone, and it gets kind of annoying when I am reading a story and taking the time to search the individual chapters on google, only to have the chapters be less than 3000 words. It generally makes the story less enjoyable for me.

1/18/2013 #66
quasipheobus

Okay, seeing as I don't know how to post on this topic without replying, I think that the ideal chapter length is at least 5000 words. I read on my non-touchy phone, and it gets kind of annoying when I am reading a story and taking the time to search the individual chapters on google, only to have the chapters be less than 3000 words. It generally makes the story less enjoyable for me.

1/18/2013 #67
DH7

Hitting the reply button is the way you post, there isn't a secret way of posting without replying. Don't worry, your not actually replying to someone else's post, nor does replying to a post quote what they say. If you actually DO want to reply to something that someone said, you can copy and paste their words, highlight it, and then hit the quote button.

I've already replied to this thread, but my opinions won't stay still anyway. I think it really, really, depends on what's being written, and what I'm in the mood for. I've said before that I can't read a story or chapter that is only a few hundred words long, but I enjoy jokes that are in story form. Their short, and people may not readily think of them as stories, but they are, and they are usually just long enough to serve their purpose.

I can understand why someone would want "more meat on the bones" if they are looking to burn quite a bit of extra time. Personally, I'd like to be given enough time in a story to get a grip on the characters, and enough time in the chapter to get a grip on the situation. I like the idea of making every word important, but there's a limit to the effectiveness of brevity; I certainly wouldn't want to read a story where major events happen in a single sentence, as if the story is being written as a list of things that happen. Also, while I think cliff hangers can be an effective plot device, they can be overdone if the writer isn't careful. The following is an exaggerated example of what I mean:

Chapter 1: Our heroes decide to investigate the creepy mansion.

Chapter 2: Our heroes pack their bags in preparation of exploring the creepy mansion.

My own chapters tend to be 7k words in length, and I sometimes wonder if they are long enough to be worth reading. I've expressed my doubts that a much shorter chapter could entertain me, but I'm not taking in consideration that I tend to group together three or four related scenes. I could easily see a chapter being short, and entertaining someone like myself if the characters never change from their location.

If I have the time, I prefer longer chapters, but I would probably seek out something lighter if I were press for time. In time-constrained situation, I would be much grateful for the story that somehow manages to be short, without feeling like I just watched the first five minutes of an anime and then shut off the TV.

1/19/2013 #68
CatharsisCreeper

It depends on what I want to get across in a particular scene. They can vary from about 600 words to well over a thousand. I feel that going over my limit would drive me nuts.

1/21/2013 #69
Corinne Tate

My first story here I had chapters that were about 10k words. Some liked the length, and others wondered why I hadn't broken it up more. I wish I hadn't been so eager to get the story posted, since I think I missed the opportunity to have more readers by stretching it out. My longest story on here has chapters between 7 and 9k on average. It already topped seventy chapters, so I'm glad I didn't make them shorter. Now I'm trying to keep it around 5-6k, since that's a length that's easy to read and write. I also tend to write longer chapters as the story progresses, and they're shorter in the beginning.

No offense Connor, but with such short chapters, I hope you're at least offering quick updates. I'd completely lose interest in a story with such short chapters, unless I found it when it was complete. Maybe that's not entirely fair; I have seen writers who have such an economy with strong words, that they can pack a lot into a small word count. But most just cut the chapter short, and leave me wondering about what should have been written. Short chapters are often short on the kind of details I love.

1/21/2013 #70
Lorendiac
Also, while I think cliff hangers can be an effective plot device, they can be overdone if the writer isn't careful. The following is an exaggerated example of what I mean:

Chapter 1: Our heroes decide to investigate the creepy mansion.

Chapter 2: Our heroes pack their bags in preparation of exploring the creepy mansion.

I know you said your own example was "exaggerated," but I just want to make one point about it:

I might well have a chapter end with our heroes having just decided upon an important course of action which will be put into effect in the next chapter (or an even later one) -- in fact, I believe I've done exactly that in some of my fanfics! -- but I would never call that a "cliffhanger" if nothing extremely dangerous/surprising/mysterious/etc. were happening onstage in the final paragraphs of that installment of the larger story.

Just having the main characters say, "Okay, we've all agreed to go do something which may eventually turn out to be dangerous, for all we know" (or words to that general effect) is far removed from the dramatic role of a "cliffhanger" as I understand the term. It merely marks a convenient stopping place at the end of a scene/chapter!

Now, if the chapter ended with them gingerly opening the front door of the mansion and promptly hearing and/or seeing something strange and scary happening within the darkness of the abandoned mansion . . . that might qualify as a cliffhanger, because there was now a serious possibility on the table that someone was going to get hurt in the next few seconds!

1/22/2013 . Edited 1/22/2013 #71
DH7

What I was trying to get at, was splitting one's chapter up too much in an attempt at creating cliff-hangers. I'd like a chapter to be at least long enough to be interesting in it's own right, to be worth sitting down and reading even if the next chapter hasn't been updated.

1/22/2013 #72
TheFortuneArcania

My chapters usually end up around 1000 to 1500 words, though sometimes there shorter or longer than that.

2/14/2013 #73
AughraOfEarth

I'm relieved to see so many falling out into that 2,000-6,000 words' acceptable length. I started out trying to keep my average length down around 3,000 words, as that's tended both to be my own limit for reading in one sitting (time constraints!) and seemed a reasonable length for scanning as a single online page, but a 3,500-4,500 range seems to be working out better for me in practical terms, and I won't be surprised if that edges up over time, to around 5,000.

Bearing in mind the need to scroll, my target is now around 6-7 standard pages per chapter.

2/15/2013 #74
taerkitty

I think you need to factor in the canon, too. Consider:

- If the source material is print and has lengthy chapters, those who come to your fic may subconsciously associate that canon with long chapters. One person wrote for LotR and said his chapters with 10K chapters were getting a lot reads and comments.

- If the source material is something that is both episodic and visual, such as television shows or anime OAV, it may be better to keep things shorter. There's also the matter of content - most shows have at least two 'acts' as necessitated by the commercial break. Perhaps to match that, have your chapters alternate between cliffhanger (pre-commercial break) and a plot-arc ending (end of episode), not counting multipart stories.

- If the source material is in print, but graphical, such as comics and manga, the above might hold true, without the comments about commercial breaks.

- If the source material is something that is visual, but standalone, such as movies or games, anything goes. Both movies and games usually are broken into scenes, so you could split the overall story where it feels like the scenes would break, or you could just drop a 20K one-shot on the readers.

===

I'm writing for a manga which is broken into distinct stories, each of which comprises some one or more chapters. I'm trying to match that with chapters between 1K and 2K grouped into plot-arcs as indicated by the chapter title names.

My titles follow this pattern: "Training Chapter 5: Little Litanies". So, even thought FF.net prepends it's chapter number, changing it to "Chapter 30: Training Chapter 3: Little Litanies," it's clearly part of the short story, "Training".

Additionally, each short story has some naming scheme. For instance "Training" chapter titles always have 'Little' as the first word and some word beginning with 'L' as the second. Lastly, the original chapter title is the first line, bolded and centered, in the chapter.

In short, I'm trying to make it as clear as possible to the reader which chapter belongs to what short story.

2/15/2013 #75
GDYRISAA

From what I've seen a multi-chapter fic will usually run about 1000-4000 words a chapter. Sometimes longer, but mine tend to be shorter as they are often snapshots. I've also read literature in english class where chapters are only two pages (500-700 words). Really, its up to the author how long their chapters are going to be and how often they update.

2/15/2013 #76
Chevy Nova

I'd like to bump this thread up since it would seem no matter how many times I read through it (or similar topics on other forums), I can never seem to feel comfortable with my word length per chapter. I probably worry about it WAY more than I should and I feel like I can never have too many opinions on it.

I just finished a fic where each chapter average anywhere between 10-15k (though one did randomly end up ridiculously short at under 1k), and now I've sort of got it into my head that this is absolutely how long my other chapters for my new fics should be. I don't know why since I read fics with chapters much shorter than this and they're totally fine and I've even written fics with chapters on the shorter side before this one too. But now, on my current fic, each chapter so far is roughly 2-4k and I'm feeling like they're way too short! Combining them would ruin the flow and adding more would feel like useless filler.

It's lame to worry about this and the sensible answer is to just write until the chapter naturally ends. Funny how that doesn't seem to ease the worries much though.

5/18/2013 . Edited 5/18/2013 #77
LMRaven

@Chevy, comparing your chapter length with others is futile. Every story is different and there is no one size fits all. I generally go by pace, structure and content to determine chapter length as opposed to a mysterious number. Chapters are a mini-story, with a beginning, middle, climax and inconclusive ending with a hook that segues to the next chapter. It could have one scene or three. The ending should feel like it has a natural break not a forced number count. Pacing is also important. If you're writing a slow paced story, then, sure , longer chapters are probably more natural but if the story is fast paced or suspenseful then longer chapters will make it drag.

If you feel that combining them would ruin the flow and adding more will feel like useless filler then you are probably right. Personally, I think that 10K - 15K chapters is really too long. Many full length novel chapters run an average of 8 -10 pages at roughly 250 words per page (2500 word thereabouts). But this is an average industry standard not a rule by any means.

5/18/2013 #78
Chevy Nova

Oh shoot, rereading what I wrote I definitely made it sound like I had finished reading a fic where the chapter where 10-15k. I should have been clearer, I meant I had finished writing a fic where the chapters are that length and now I'm starting a new project where the chapters are winding up quite a bit shorter than that. But thank you for responding, it does help put my mind at ease with the progress I'm making thus far :)

5/18/2013 #79
Dekiru
A couple of days ago, I was looking through some fanfics and decided to put the 100000 word filter on (I like long fanfics). I then saw a nice one. One problem though, only six chapters, each one taking 20 minutes to half an hour to read. I looked through some more and found incredibly high ratios (10000-25000 words per chapter). Apart from short one-chapter "stories", I would expect 1000-7500 words per chapter. At the moment I'm writing a fic, and with 1500 words per chapter(average so far, will probably go up a bit to 2-3k)but I don't know if I should write longer chapters less frequently or shorter chapters every 2-5 days.

What do you think the ideal length for each chapter on a fanfic is?


My stories vary in size for many factors. One could be that I have many idea's for it, or maybe just a few idea's I thread together. My most popular FanFiction is Kickin' It Lab Rats, and it has a little over 1,000 views and 20 reviews. (I know, small, but I'm not that big on FanFiction at all :P)

I feel that that specific story is, in other words, horrible. I feel that I could have done a lot more with the plot etc, and I lost interest in it. My two favorite stories that I have published is Broken Soul and What Love Does to You. Those stories have about 2k plus words in all, and have little reviews. So I feel, 'If they like any size length, I'll do what I'm comfortable with.' It doesn't matter what size it is, (though it does if its only like 36 words) but how well developed and plotted it is.

So I would say any length would get a reasonable amount of hits, regardless of size.

I just realized I wrote a whole rant cause I'm bored... O.o.o.O

5/18/2013 #80
DJ Blonde

I find that between 1750 and 4000 words works well for a chapter. I tend to get comments from my readers that my chapters should be longer if they fall under 1.5K.

I agree with everyone that the chapter length should be natural for the story. However, one thing that I haven't seen discussed (in my skim of this thread) is the fact that you can design your chapters to be within a certain length by planning out your story. Even if you don't do it in the first rough draft, it is often possible to edit those chapter breaks in as you fine tune the story.

I often break up a long story arc (which could have been put into one chapter) by ending on a cliffhanger moment then switching to a different scene within the arc. That way you can create multiple threads of suspense while keeping the chapters at an optimal length.

5/18/2013 . Edited 5/19/2013 #81
DH7
I think my preferences tend to change every time I read a fic. It might have something to do with the fact that I tend to lead more towards reading longer fics than shorter ones. I only read completed fics, the next chapter is always a click away, and I don't like stopping in the middle of a chapter. I prefer chapter lengths to be somewhere around 2500-5500 words. I feel the length of the chapters of the fic I'm currently reading are too short, but I don't think it's that big of a deal either.
5/19/2013 #82
quasipheobus
I agree when I read a story, they are always complete because I don't like having to wait for the next chapter. I prefer really long chapters like 15k, but done mind if the chapter is only 2k, as long as it flows.
5/19/2013 #83
Paintedwings77

15K wow, I thought mine were long! I average at 6-7K per chapter. I try to be consistent and keeping those numbers, but I end a chapter when it feels right, which is about then 6-7K.

I think the numbers dont matter as long as the story flows well and for me anyway its important that when a chapter ends it doesnt feel force or abrupt.

5/19/2013 #84
quasipheobus
I know, and 6-7k would be perfect for me because I use the sites mobile version, so chapters seen longer than they are. But if a chapter is under 2 k, or the chapter number is smaller than the k of words, I won't read it.
5/19/2013 #85
GDYRISAA

Personally, it depends on what kind of story it is. I have a story that is essentially a bunch of snap shots. The chapters run typically 1000-3000 words. I find I get really irritated when chapters are too long as I read in my spare moments so shorter chapters are usually my preferred style. If chapters get longer than 7000 words it can be an issue for me. Writing until the chapter naturally ends though is always going to be better than anything else.

5/19/2013 #86
quasipheobus
Yeah, I get that but I don't have many friends, and with the added plus of being a teenager in school, I have alot of free time (7-8 hours) so I like long chapters. I read a story that was a 42k story and only had two chapters. It was amazing and if I find a story,with super short chapters I won't read it simply because it gets troublesome for me to read for thirty seconds and have to press next next.
5/19/2013 #87
Vixen With A Vendetta

Oh my.... I think I'm one of those extreme cases.

My story STARTED out as 2,000 to 4,000 word chapters... but then it crept up as I went. And the latest chapters are now 10,000 to 16,000 words. I started treating the chapters like the length of a chapter in a book, meaning they're about 25 to 30 pages in my Word document when I write them.

But I guess that's a little too much based on what I'm reading here, haha.

5/19/2013 #88
quasipheobus
Now you see, I am more likely to read your story, depending on the fandom, simply because the chapters are longer. That meet sound bad, but I like reading stories that will take me over an hour to read.
5/19/2013 #89
Vixen With A Vendetta

My story is a crossover between The Walking Dead and The Vampire Diaries, so if you watch those shows, by all means. :P But yeah, my story will take more than an hour to read simply because it's the length of a full novel (470k words total thus far with one chapter left).

I just can't imagine how many chapters my story would be if I broke the chapters down to 3k to 5k words because it's 60 as it is now. o.o

5/19/2013 #90
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