Time for another dip into the e-mail stack of Hi Susan questions.
This time it’s from Sharon who asked?
I’m a new writer and I’m confused about how long to make each chapter in my story, any tips?
I get asked this question a lot so the reason I decided to feature it here.
If you read my post from Tuesday, you’ll remember I said writing has no rules. Chapter length is a great example of the no rules policy that I love so much. (Yes, I’m a rebel at heart!)
You, the writer decides how long a chapter should be. Don’t ever worry about them not all being the same length either. I did have one student who got in a panic because of that.
I’ve written some chapters that are ten pages long, others just two…as you write, keep telling yourself we set the rules.
As long as a chapter has achieved one of the following, I think you’re good to go-
- Moves the plot forward
- Tells the reader something new about either the plot or one or more characters
- Ups the conflict, suspense, horror etc. Even closes the chapter with a cliffhanger
- Leaves the reader feeling an urgent need to read on
- With each passing chapter, makes the reader fall in love with your story and characters just a little bit more
Some of my fellow writers might add to this list but I think if I’ve included any of the above in a story then a one page chapter is just as good as a ten page one.
I’ve seen bestselling authors do it, I’ve seen some of the greatest writers in history do it. It worked for them so let it work for you too.