Question: How do you recommend dividing a novel into chapters? I'm trying to figure out how long my chapters should be, if they should revolve around a single scene, if my scenes have enough content to become a chapter, etc. Thanks!

Answer: I generally recommend placing chapter breaks after an event has reached its resolution and given the characters a new purpose that will propel them towards the next event. However, chapters can contain more than one event, if the events are brief.

The word scene is a little vague, since scenes can contain more than one event. You could, for instance, have an entire full-length story that consists of a single scene (though this is rare), but it will contain many events.

Of course, you don't want chapters to be too long either. A chapter should also be a good length for the reader to read in half an hour or less (so they can tell themselves, "I'll just read one more chapter before bed."). For adults, 5,000 words is not a bad limit. Naturally, chapters must be shorter in children's books. However, even adult novels will occasionally have a very short chapter, if that's what the story's needs dictate.

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by Bryanna

Question: What if a chapter feels rushed?

Answer: Your feelings should be a pretty good guide, though you can also ask others for a second, objective opinion.

If you feel the chapter is rushed, then perhaps you have to look at what you may be glossing over. The more important the event or events the chapter depicts, the more detail may be needed to convey its importance.

You could ask yourself questions such as...

* Would it add to the emotional push and pull to break a single, big event into a sequence of smaller events, creating a dramatic arc such as inciting event --> complication/conflict --> crisis/turning point --> resolution?

* Would it help to include other characters reactions to what is happening?

* Do you need to describe the action in more detail? Perhaps replace generalities with a more specific description.

* Have you included your POV character's reactions in terms of thoughts and feelings along with the action?

* Remember that, in addition to having your reader appreciate progress in your plot, you also want them to appreciate progress in your characters' relationships and inner conflicts. They need to know why an event is important - what it means and to whom it is meaningful.

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about my chapters

by alistair ashton

Question: I was wondering when writing my book what should every chapter in my book contain

Answer: Try thinking not so much about what each chapter should contain but where to put chapter breaks in the novel. Some writers write the entire story first and add the chapter breaks afterward.

That said, generally each chapter should contain one complete an event in the story (an event being an important change). You can have more than one event in a chapter, if the events are told in not too many pages. You want to put chapter breaks in places where you have a sense that one event has finished and the reader is now looking forward to what will happen next.

That "looking forward" is what will compel the reader to turn to the next chapter rather than put the book down.

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