What is a good chapter length? Obviously you want to mention the key points and have some kind of completion/cliffhanger by the end of your chapter but as reader do you have a preference to LOTS of short chapters or only a few LONG chapters. What's your opinion?
I think it is definitely just preference. I have seen chapters that go on for pages and pages, and some chapters that only contain a mere sentence or word. I love that, actually. Sometimes everything you need to sum up in a chapter only needs one well chosen sentence.
Personally during my preparations for NaNoWriMo I planned out key points that would lead onto each other with fit interjecting (yet relevent) chapters to give the novel some variety. Each of my chapters are about 2000 words each.
Right now, I have some chapters that are four or five pages long (a page being double-spaced lines with Times New Roman 12-point type) and one that's a single page. I don't worry about such things. However long it takes to complete a scene, that's how long the chapter is.
Sometimes I'll put more than one scene in a chapter, and when I do I'll use a # symbol in the middle of the line below the end of a scene to designate that I'm cutting to something else (the written version of a fade to black, I suppose), but usually I keep it at one scene per chapter. It keeps the pace up, and the white space at the end of the chapter gives me visual reference points if I need to go back and look at something earlier in the story.
I seem to remember reading somewhere that a chapter should contain a little mini story in itself that is part of the larger plot. Not that a chapter is a stand-alone, but that it has a full circle of events, like a scene in a movie.
I usually struggle with where to break my chapters. But (if you're going to go on and edit the novel) you can always change chapter length later. I usually write long-ish chapters but this year I'm going with really short ones because they fit my story.
I guess what I'm saying is don't sweat it. This is the time for getting your thoughts down, not finessing the structure. You don't have to use chapters at all! :)
Even if the chapters a long I always need some sort of mark or break in the story so that I can close the book without needing to read on and on while I have to normally close the book. Nothing bothers me more to shut a book when I can't keep a good view where to return to.
(this was hard to explain I hope it is easier to understand then it seams)
I know what you mean. I don't like stopping in the middle of a scene, so I guess that's why I write the way I do, ending a chapter at the conclusion of a scene or at least putting some white space and the # symbol between two scenes in a single chapter.
I usually do chapters and I also include several scenes in a chapter on occasion, depending on the length of an individual scene. However, I don't always go strictly by length - I have longer and shorter chapters. For me, the break has to occur in a natural way. I'll hit a spot, even if it's in the middle of a scene and I just KNOW that a break has to be there.
True. In fact, I think I did that yesterday... By the time I went to bed around midnight, I wasn't entirely sure what I was writing any more, so I put my characters to bed in a new setting and then put myself to bed. :)
When I get back to it today, it will be interesting to see what I typed last night. ;)
I've got 13,000 words, 31 pages, and just under about 5 chapters. I haven't looked back to see if they are approximately the same length or not. The divisions seem natural and this is just a draft, so I can always go back and change things later.