This and that, and chapters too 4


All sorts of things on my mind today–but scan down to the final part about chapter length, the powers that be at Samhain want to know!

It’s your last chance to comment on Claire Robyn’s post for a chance to win her Second Guessing Fate. It’s also your last chance to comment on Donna Alward’s post for her Off the Clock.

I’ve sent out the emails to the winners of the 18 & Over Book Bloggers contest — check your inboxes Zoey and Anne (or your spam boxes “just in case” because oftentimes the mail programs don’t like to see words like “winner” or “contest” in the email and toss it into the spam box.)

I had intended to write some posts about the Writers Police Academy but a lady I befriended down there has been doing such a terrific job, it seems redundant — visit Capri Smith’s blog, A Thrill Ran Up My Spine. Today’s post is on arson investigation, there’s also one about Sniper Shepherd (whose picture I put up at the end of one of my posts last week), one on EMTs and gunshot wounds, Capri’s experience with her FATS training, along with her take-away on a talk by cyber crimes expert Josh Moulin and alternate light-source guru Dave Pauley (all about those weird orange glasses the “experts” put on in shows like CSI when they turn out the lights?).

I saw one of the Samhain editors tweeting a question about whether anyone felt chapter breaks were necessary in a romance of about 60,000 words. “Hell yes,” was my immediate response, but then I started wondering. I’ve heard that some famous author liked using short chapters because he figured his readers usually read at night when they were tired. If they picked up a book and saw the end of the chapter was still twenty pages away, they’d put it down because they didn’t want to get into the story for the length of time it took to finish that chapter. But if the chapters were short — as in a couple of pages or even a single page, they’d say “well I’ll just read this chapter” then they’d get sucked in and read those twenty pages before they knew it. (I’ve also heard that someone heard that most guys read in the bathroom and determined chapter length based on the average length of time it took to do their business on the throne, LOL)

As a writer, I like chapter breaks to a) wind up a scene and leave a question, or answer them, and b) advance time or switch points-of-view. As a reader–do you like chapter breaks? Do they encourage you to put a book down? Would a book without chapters work for you?

**Edited with more questions** With digital books, where it’s not so easy to see how many pages are left in a chapter, are chapter breaks as important? Do you use bookmarks in your digital books to keep your place? Do you tend to stop reading at a chapter break or not?


4 thoughts on “This and that, and chapters too

  • Cassandra Carr

    As a reader, I do like chapter breaks. They give your brain a break, even if it’s only for a few seconds before you continue reading. As a writer, I find them an invaluable tool for all the reasons you mentioned.

    I did hear something great from Roxanne St. Clair at RWA this year. She doesn’t “wrap up” scenes at the end of chapters. That way, the reader is still in the scene at the end of the chapter and has to keep reading. Sneaky. I wouldn’t do it all the time, but I’d say that every three or four chapters is a bridge now.

  • Ameliad

    I like chapter breaks. They make a good transition from character’s point of view to another. It also makes me feel as if I’m making progress in reading the book as I finish each chapter.

  • Chrissy

    I actually prefer books without them. But I include them in my ebooks because they DO make navigating easier, and readers seem to want them.

  • AmyW

    I like chapter breaks for the reasons others have said above — clear scene/time breaks and more importantly, an opportunity for a breather. I’m not a fast reader so I never finish a book in one sitting, so I like an clear place to stop for the time being. For novellas I don’t think it’s as important, but over say 35k I think they’re necessary

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