Does Size Matter?

06 Mar

Okay, get your mind out of the gutter…I mean in chapter size. Let’s be honest, this has been an ongoing debate since the time of biblical writers. But does the size, of your chapters, really matter that much. Well, yes, but not for the reasons you think.

The size of your chapters has less to do with the number of pages you are trying to force and more to do with the way in which you write. When we write a story there is a concept called “pacing” and it is important if you are to write a good book. Everyone’s pacing is different but one thing that is the same is that the size of your chapters can be a key factor in who your pacing goes. The formula is simple…the shorter your chapters are the quicker is the pace of your story.

Now let’s think about this for a moment…if you are working in the garage and you are going along at a fairly decent pace, the garage will get done but you will also feel comfortable about how the job gets done. Your novel is the same way. If your chapters are short sometimes that makes for a tighter story. If your chapters are long but the pace is quick you can still achieve the tightness but detail will also be enhanced. Longer chapters may slow down while short chapters may influence the quality. Maybe now you see why it is such a debate.

There has been some argument over the years having to do with making all of your chapters exactly the same length. I personally thing think that this is lame. Some authors can, and have done this in the past such as Antony Trollope and Charles Dickens but I can’t make it happen. If the story is telling itself I hardly see how you can “make” it fit. I prefer to write and when it feels like a chapter has come to an end and there is a story shift, I take it. That feels natural for me.

So am I advocating one way of the other? Nope, not going to step into that trap…I am simply saying that you must do what is comfortable for you. Don’t let another writer tell you how long your chapters should be and for Pete’s sake don’t allow publishers to either. (they love to by the way) I believe that all stories create their own space and if you try and drop them into a box you are doing that story a disservice.

© The Writer’s Advice, 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.


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