Open Discussion - Chapters

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    ◓Gypsy Vanner Horse Kyuuketsuki's Avatar
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    Default Open Discussion - Chapters

    There isn't as much activity as there used to be in this little corner of the forums, so I thought I might as well just start an open discussion regarding a very general concept that, as far as I know, hasn't been discussed before in the Block.

    Anyway, regarding chapters of a story, how do you decide how long they should be? How do you name them? How do you know when a chapter should end?

    I think there was a discussion about length before, but I couldn't find it. For me, I keep a minimum of 1000 words per chapter when it comes to Fanfiction. I feel any less, and the chapter would be too short, and 4000+ words for a chapter can repel possible readers. I find it very difficult to name chapters, but I go the common way of naming them after what the chapter deals with, and I use that method the most. Sometimes I name them after trivial things in the chapter, sometimes after song titles or lyrics, and sometimes after a quote from a character, but as I said before, the most frequent method for me would be the first one.

    Regarding ending a chapter, I used to try to end each chapter on a cliffhanger, but most recently, I've taken up on the notion of ending a chapter when I find that I've poured as much content that matched the title as I can while keeping the chronological order (or the order I had intended).

    Please feel free to add your own questions/observations, and mention examples from your own stories if you feel it would better help describe your position on one of these questions, and I look forward to reading your responses.

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    Secret Sword of Justice Kelleo's Avatar
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    Default Re: Open Discussion - Chapters

    Well, I like long chapters, so I've got no problem writing some that are up to 14000 words long. Any longer than that though, and I split them into two parts, or even separate chapters all together. I usually name a chapter for the most important event or events going on in it.

    As for how I end chapters, sometimes I use suspenseful cliff hangers, other times I end them in more calm and casual ways. It really depends on what's going on.

    And that's really all I can say. xP

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    ◓Gypsy Vanner Horse Kyuuketsuki's Avatar
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    Default Re: Open Discussion - Chapters

    Quote Originally Posted by Kelleo View Post
    Well, I like long chapters, so I've got no problem writing some that are up to 14000 words long. Any longer than that though, and I split them into two parts, or even separate chapters all together. I usually name a chapter for the most important event or events going on in it.

    As for how I end chapters, sometimes I use suspenseful cliff hangers, other times I end them in more calm and casual ways. It really depends on what's going on.

    And that's really all I can say. xP
    Well, how do you decide what is the most important event in a chapter if there are more than one? Does it have to do with who's the main character? Or which event had more spectators/affected more people?

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    Default Re: Open Discussion - Chapters

    Quote Originally Posted by Kyuuketsuki View Post
    I think there was a discussion about length before, but I couldn't find it. For me, I keep a minimum of 1000 words per chapter when it comes to Fanfiction. I feel any less, and the chapter would be too short, and 4000+ words for a chapter can repel possible readers. I find it very difficult to name chapters, but I go the common way of naming them after what the chapter deals with, and I use that method the most. Sometimes I name them after trivial things in the chapter, sometimes after song titles or lyrics, and sometimes after a quote from a character, but as I said before, the most frequent method for me would be the first one.
    Well, when it comes to chapter length, I feel judging a book by its cover is pretty selfish. Not even giving the chapters a chance based on their sizes is just silly, the content isn't even being judge just the size. From my point of view, since my fic.'s chapters are in the neighborhood of "too long" I guess, I think more people should be a tad more patient when it comes to reading a story with length. I don't aim for a certain amount of words each chapter, I just basically let my fingers write out all the details I've blueprinted and timelined out for that specific chapter. The size is the size and that's that.

    When it comes to titles, I'll do straight up titles or puns/allusions/references. That's just me.

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    Unova's #1 Yancy fan Seizon Senryaku's Avatar
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    Default Re: Open Discussion - Chapters

    When I started Champion Game, my rule was 3,000 words minimum, with no real maximum needed because I didn't tend to go that far over 3k. Eventually I started writing them longer - a current calculation puts them at an average of 4,322 across the whole fic. One or two of my chapters have gone to 7,000 words, and others were barely 3,000 - which is still my absolute minimum. Any less than that, I feel, doesn't give the reader enough material to stay interested. Of course, that varies for everyone, and I wouldn't be averse to using a really short chapter for effect.

    As for chapter titles, they tend to be somewhat abstract. I often write them first based on something that will happen during the chapter, then end up winding the story out further so that event actually happens a chapter or two later. So my chapter titles are actually kind of prophetic, but they're deliberately vague enough that people don't tend to pick it up. And then for some chapters I just write them at the end.
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    ◓Gypsy Vanner Horse Kyuuketsuki's Avatar
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    Default Re: Open Discussion - Chapters

    Quote Originally Posted by Gotpika View Post
    Quote Originally Posted by Kyuuketsuki View Post
    I think there was a discussion about length before, but I couldn't find it. For me, I keep a minimum of 1000 words per chapter when it comes to Fanfiction. I feel any less, and the chapter would be too short, and 4000+ words for a chapter can repel possible readers. I find it very difficult to name chapters, but I go the common way of naming them after what the chapter deals with, and I use that method the most. Sometimes I name them after trivial things in the chapter, sometimes after song titles or lyrics, and sometimes after a quote from a character, but as I said before, the most frequent method for me would be the first one.
    Well, when it comes to chapter length, I feel judging a book by its cover is pretty selfish. Not even giving the chapters a chance based on their sizes is just silly, the content isn't even being judge just the size. From my point of view, since my fic.'s chapters are in the neighborhood of "too long" I guess, I think more people should be a tad more patient when it comes to reading a story with length. I don't aim for a certain amount of words each chapter, I just basically let my fingers write out all the details I've blueprinted and timelined out for that specific chapter. The size is the size and that's that.
    That's a valid point. But the issue is that most of the time, readers wouldn't bother with a long story as much as a short story. Even if all your chapters are less than 500 words, but there are a lot of them, some people will turn away, deciding not to catch up as it would be too long to do so. Even if there are a minority that reads long chapters, and are open to any length, I prefer to start the all my stories with relatively short chapters, in order to draw people in, but as soon as you have a firm readership, and your updates are frequent and organised, people will keep on reading, no matter how long the chapters are.

    In short, starting a story with a long chapter repels people. Of course there certainly are short stories that no one reads, and there are some long one that readers are attracted to. This is just my personal observation.

    Quote Originally Posted by Misheard Whisper View Post
    When I started Champion Game, my rule was 3,000 words minimum, with no real maximum needed because I didn't tend to go that far over 3k. Eventually I started writing them longer - a current calculation puts them at an average of 4,322 across the whole fic. One or two of my chapters have gone to 7,000 words, and others were barely 3,000 - which is still my absolute minimum. Any less than that, I feel, doesn't give the reader enough material to stay interested. Of course, that varies for everyone, and I wouldn't be averse to using a really short chapter for effect.
    Speaking of using short chapters for effect. Does anyone implement a sort of alternative chapters? For example, towards the end of Hell's Heroes by Darren Shan, a poem was a chapter all on it's own, which served as Arc Words to the whole saga (it was the tenth and final book in the series).

    Does anyone else implement that method?

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    Secret Sword of Justice Kelleo's Avatar
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    Default Re: Open Discussion - Chapters

    Quote Originally Posted by Kyuuketsuki View Post
    Well, how do you decide what is the most important event in a chapter if there are more than one? Does it have to do with who's the main character? Or which event had more spectators/affected more people?
    Well, when there's more than one main event in a chapter, I come up with a title fitting for all of them. For example, the chapter of my Fire Emblem fic called Breaking the Barrier. One "barrier" in the chapter is figurative while the other is a literal barrier. Both are broken through in the chapter, and those are the chapter's main events.

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    ◓Gypsy Vanner Horse Kyuuketsuki's Avatar
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    Default Re: Open Discussion - Chapters

    Quote Originally Posted by Kelleo View Post
    Well, when there's more than one main event in a chapter, I come up with a title fitting for all of them. For example, the chapter of my Fire Emblem fic called Breaking the Barrier. One "barrier" in the chapter is figurative while the other is a literal barrier. Both are broken through in the chapter, and those are the chapter's main events.
    That's quite similar to what I am doing in one my latest chapters. Mixing literal and metaphorical phrases into one title can be a real ego booster for me; it just makes me think I'm smarter than I actually am.

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    Secret Sword of Justice Kelleo's Avatar
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    Default Re: Open Discussion - Chapters

    @Kyuuketsuki;: Haha, yeah, I feel the same way. I always feel so clever when I come up with such titles and ideas. :3

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    J'ai Envie De Toi AetherX's Avatar Moderator
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    Default Re: Open Discussion - Chapters

    [QUOTE=Kyuuketsuki;4385707]
    Quote Originally Posted by Gotpika View Post
    Speaking of using short chapters for effect. Does anyone implement a sort of alternative chapters? For example, towards the end of Hell's Heroes by Darren Shan, a poem was a chapter all on it's own, which served as Arc Words to the whole saga (it was the tenth and final book in the series).

    Does anyone else implement that method?
    I don't do this currently, but I plan to in the future. My idea is to have each arc start off with a sort of journal entry by a particular character (not the main character) that isn't about the story so much as it's about philosophy and analysis of ideas that are brought up in the arc (basically Drizzt's journals from R.A. Salvatore's Forgotten Realms series).

    On the topic of chapter length: I'm terribly inconsistent. I try not to write anything shorter than 2,500 words, but beyond that it varies wildly. I think my longest chapter was about 10k. At that point I feel like it should probably have been broken up into a two-parter. It can get difficult, though. That particular chapter didn't have one specific event that it focused on, just a bunch of small ones. The only way I could group them together was by the setting, and that resulted in a huge chapter.

    Which brings me into how I name my chapters. I didn't actually start using chapter titles until I was a fair ways into my fic, so I got lazy and just started naming them after where they took place. This is mostly because I wanted it so that people trying to slog their way through from start to finish wouldn't have a problem figuring out where they had left off.

    And finally how I end my chapters: casually, more often than not. Occasionally I'll drop a cliffhanger if it's in between or right before climactic chapter(s). I mostly just stop at something that makes it fairly obvious what the next chapter is going to be about, without really making it suspenseful.

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    ◓Gypsy Vanner Horse Kyuuketsuki's Avatar
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    Default Re: Open Discussion - Chapters

    Quote Originally Posted by AetherX View Post
    I don't do this currently, but I plan to in the future. My idea is to have each arc start off with a sort of journal entry by a particular character (not the main character) that isn't about the story so much as it's about philosophy and analysis of ideas that are brought up in the arc (basically Drizzt's journals from R.A. Salvatore's Forgotten Realms series).
    So the arc following the journal entries would expand on the ideas? That does seem like a very interesting idea. Will they be chapters on their own, or a few paragraphs at the start of an arc?

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    J'ai Envie De Toi AetherX's Avatar Moderator
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    Default Re: Open Discussion - Chapters

    Quote Originally Posted by Kyuuketsuki View Post
    So the arc following the journal entries would expand on the ideas? That does seem like a very interesting idea. Will they be chapters on their own, or a few paragraphs at the start of an arc?
    Exactly. I'll probably post them on their own, but I doubt they'll be as long as real chapters since they'll read more like essays than stories. At least, that's how I imagine it. Who knows what it will end up like when I actually start writing.

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    Registered User Caitlin's Avatar
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    Default Re: Open Discussion - Chapters

    I basically tend to write my chapters as if they're episodes of a TV show. The establish an immediate problem or situation that the characters need to deal with and those problems are generally dealt with by the end of the chapter unless it's long enough to justify multiple parts. I try to throw foreshadowing and character development/backstory in when possible, but I don't want to overdo it.

    For length, I basically do whatever. I try to focus on one major event so that I don't confuse the reader, and I give that event or conflict enough time to develop within the chapter for it to actually have impact (at least I hope I do, I never get any feedback on this). If I have multiple events in one chapter, they all are cheapened and have less of a reason to be read, I feel.

    When reading, length doesn't bother me too much. However, if I scroll down and it takes me about 20 seconds of constant scrolling to reach the bottom of the chapter, I just... groan and hit the back button really. Sure, the chapter could be interesting, but... it could also probably be interesting in a much-shorter-yet-still-long way, and I'm not exactly made of free time anymore.

    For naming chapters, I try to sum up one of the events that take place ("Prepare for Trouble!", "Troubling Times"), describe one of the characters if there has been a major introduction ("Just a City Girl", "The Man, the Legend"), or even a description of a place the characters visit ("The Den", "The Fabled Pillar"). I avoid silly and lame puns as I feel they detract from the serious and often grim-dark tones I try to establish, but I may throw one in every now and then ("Alice in Winterland" being my favourite).

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    CEO of the Monsters Lugion's Avatar
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    Default Re: Open Discussion - Chapters

    As it happens, Like No One Ever Was probably has the highest number of pages-per-chapter of any of my fics. This comes from the fact that, rather than cutting chapters off after every major event like I used to, I try to give each chapter a sort of climax, like an episode of the actual anime would.

    However, if I feel like a chapter would be too long by including the resolution (eg, the entire battle, etc.), I'll leave off on a cliffhanger, like what I just did with the battle against Brock.

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    ◓Gypsy Vanner Horse Kyuuketsuki's Avatar
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    Default Re: Open Discussion - Chapters

    Quote Originally Posted by Caitlin View Post
    I basically tend to write my chapters as if they're episodes of a TV show. The establish an immediate problem or situation that the characters need to deal with and those problems are generally dealt with by the end of the chapter unless it's long enough to justify multiple parts. I try to throw foreshadowing and character development/backstory in when possible, but I don't want to overdo it.

    For length, I basically do whatever. I try to focus on one major event so that I don't confuse the reader, and I give that event or conflict enough time to develop within the chapter for it to actually have impact (at least I hope I do, I never get any feedback on this). If I have multiple events in one chapter, they all are cheapened and have less of a reason to be read, I feel.
    Does that mean that your chapters follow more of a 'Monster of the Week' format?

    Quote Originally Posted by Lugion View Post
    However, if I feel like a chapter would be too long by including the resolution (eg, the entire battle, etc.), I'll leave off on a cliffhanger, like what I just did with the battle against Brock.
    Cliffhangers can be quite interesting. I do sometimes end my chapters with a cliffhanger, but often I don't solve it. I personally find it quite hard to start a chapter if an event is already in progress, and it more often than not results in me butchering the introduction of a chapter.

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