Write like a professional, get the chapters right

By getting the word count right. How?

Scene by scene.

I’ve written in the past about the word count for books but a book is made up of chapters. And chapters are made up of scenes. 

A mixture of really short and really long chapters may give your reader a case of whiplash. Make sure that doesn’t happen. 

There is nothing wrong with varying chapter length or writing a book with all short chapters, but I’d avoid the extreme. Scenes set the pace and like stepping stones lead your reader through the book. 

Randy Ingermanson on Advanced Fiction Writing, reminds us to think SCENES not CHAPTERS.

Controlling Chapter Lengths in Your Novel

Things from his post I want to remember:

  • Chapters are stepping stones to take the reader through your book.
  • Chapters consist and are controlled by SCENES.
  • Varying scene length is okay. But be consistent.
  • A good average word count for a scene is 1000-1500.
    • A little more or a little less the Keyword is average.
  • A good scene count for a chapter is driven by the scenes.
  • My writing style dictates the word count for scenes.
  • Chapter word count is determined by the number of chapters in the book.
    • 70,000 ÷ 3,000 = 23 chapters
    • 70,000 ÷ 2,000 = 28 chapters
    • ? ÷? =? chapters (you do the math.)
  • Don’t pad a scene with words just for the sake of the count.
  • Only add words to a scene that move the story forward.

Be sure and click on Randy’s link above and read his article. He has lots more to say about writing scenes that add up to a book.

Do you think in scenes when writing a chapter?

What do you think is a good length for a chapter?

Do you write the scenes first and then divide up into chapters?

Have a tip about finding that chapter/scene balance? Do share.

 

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