BSV Forum - Writing - General Tips

How long is too long?

Mar 28 2007 10:30 am   #1Caro Mio

I've always wondered what people really think of chapter lengths (most of us seem to prefer long stories)?

When I started out, I approached creating chapters with the same amount of pages in Word a typical fiction novel would have. So, you frequently get 4000-5000 word chapters.

What do you prefer? Short or long? (And get those minds out of the gutter...)

What If I'm Not the Slayer? now updated with chapters 22 and 23.
Mar 28 2007 12:54 pm   #2YourMyDream

If I'm enjoying a story (which I always do here ) I definitely want to read as much as I can ASAP!! lol so generally I prefer longer chapters, unless it makes sense with the story to break it up and have a shorter chapter... *shrugs* as long as I've got some sort of update to the story I'm reading that's good enough to keep me a happy reader!!

PS My mind didn't jump to the gutter until you mentioned it!! hehe

Don't worry, be happy :)
Mar 28 2007 02:28 pm   #3Caro Mio

LOL. I knew I had to make a preemptive comment before those naughty gals come on later today.

What If I'm Not the Slayer? now updated with chapters 22 and 23.
Mar 28 2007 02:54 pm   #4DreamsofSpike

If your talking about length of an entire fic, i am *sooo* the wrong person to ask...mine go on waaaay too long....

lol

as for chapter length, i usually go with around 2500-3000 words myself..

my personal preference varies....if it's a story that's updated frequently, I'd rather have it be a bit more manageable, right around that 2500-3000 mark. But if it's a fic that's only updated once every couple of weeks or so, that I'm really into, I want it to be as long as possible because I know I'm gonna be waiting a while for more

Mar 28 2007 04:23 pm   #5Caro Mio

Okay......another question:

Does length have an effect on whether you review a chapter?

What If I'm Not the Slayer? now updated with chapters 22 and 23.
Mar 28 2007 09:59 pm   #6Unbridled_Brunette

Well, if the chapters are really short (under 2000 words) I usually won't read the story. I like novel-length chapters. My own chapters can be anywhere between 3000 and 6000 words. Basically, I have a strict policy that when I don't have anything to say, I stop writing, so my chapters rarely have "filler" material. But I also make it a point not to post really short chapters.

Faithfully bowing at the altar that is Stephen Colbert
Mar 28 2007 11:35 pm   #7Always_jbj

I personally prefer the longer 'novel length' chapters, both for reading and writing.

I like to read longer chaps because you can lose yourself in the story... it doesn't have any effect on whether I will read or review a chapter though.

I prefer to write longer chaps for the same reason. Having said that, if a chapter has reached a natural conclusion and is considerably shorter than others in the story I won't try to pad it out to 'make it fit'.  I do have one with intentionally shorter chapters (around the 1200 word mark) which was done to try to increase the sense of urgency in the fic.

Aim from the heart
Some will love and some will curse you, baby
You can go to war
But only if you have to 


Fanfic ~*~ Artwork ~*~ Live Journal
Mar 29 2007 01:04 am   #8TwilightChild

   I don't go by word count at all, I don't really bother with it.  For me, a chapter is a chapter based on the content of said chapter.  Sometimes there's a spot that you've just got to end it.  My chapter tend to be anywhere from barely over 1000 words, to about 5000 words, and everywhere in between. 

Mar 29 2007 02:57 am   #9LadyYashka

 I like long chapters and I'm working on making my chapters longer as well. Granted I will end the chapter if that's where it naturally ends so length can vary. However chapter length does not have an effect on whether or not I'll leave a review. If I like the story, I'll review.

Tomorrow may be hell, but today was a good writing day, and on the good writing days nothing else matters. — Neil Gaiman
Mar 29 2007 02:57 am   #10GoldenBuffy

Up until the fic I'm working on now, they've all been like 2000 - 3000 words. The first three chapters of my current one falls between that mark as well, but from chapters 4 on up its like 5000+. Not like I set out for them to be that long it's just what flowed from the fingers, lol. One chapter was pushing up on 9000 so I had to break it down into two updates.

As for fics that I'm reading, I don't mind long. If I'm really into them I don't even notice if they are shorter or longer. Now if I feel there's a lot of filler then I skim over it and get to another part. *forgot to add* I don't care how long the fic is, if I enjoy it then I will review. It's the least I can do for an author who has taken their time to write an entertaining story and share it with the rest of us. ^_^

And in the air the fireflies
Our only light in paradise
We'll show the world they were wrong
And teach them all to sing along
Mar 29 2007 03:25 am   #11Eowyn315

My chapters have gotten progressively longer since I started posting here. I used to hover around 1000, but now I pretty steadily hit 2000. I do kinda pay attention to length, but I generally write the whole fic, then break it into chapters, so it's more determined by plot structure. I have been known to rearrange scenes to avoid an excessively long or short chapter, though.

With fics I'm reading, length doesn't really make a difference, though I agree with whoever said that when I like something, the more the better! And it doesn't really have an impact on whether I review.

ETA: Just so you know, when I saw the title of this thread, my mind immediately went to a dirty place.

Writing should feel easy, like a monkey driving a speed boat.
Mar 29 2007 05:24 am   #12GoldenBuffy

*snort* You all have dirty minds. Ok, fine. I'm right there with ya, lol.

And in the air the fireflies
Our only light in paradise
We'll show the world they were wrong
And teach them all to sing along
Mar 29 2007 07:26 am   #13Scarlet Ibis

You know, as much as a gutter brain I can be sometimes, I didn't have naughty thoughts in regards to this title... Odd.  Hmm...

Anyway, I think I average 2000-2500, though it always varies.  At any rate, if the author is any good, the length won't make a lick of difference.  I can't remember which kick ass author it was, but someone did a challenge that I believe was no longer than 2500 words, redoing the end of s4, Spuffying it up starting with "The Yoko Factor."  It was terribly brief, but terribly amazing at the same time.  On that note, I've also read some brilliant two paragraph moments.  If it's done right, it's done right- regardless of length.  I've read lenghty chapters that were crap before- it's all in one's perspective of things

"Just when the caterpillar thought the world was over, it became a butterfly."
https://www.facebook.com/FangirlNovel
Mar 30 2007 02:15 am   #14slaymesoftly

In the interest of full discloser - when I was trapped in my web-pages-for-dummies stage at Geocities, I was under the impression that I couldn't put any more than 3000 words on a page so that strongly affected the size of my chapters.  ROFL , *gasp, wheeze, giggle*  I'm sorry - it's not really funny - it's sad, really.

Anyway, now that I've overcome that little handicap, I find that my chapters are as long as they need to be to have a logical stopping point. Sometimes it's a cliffhanger, sometimes it's just a quiet end to whatever was happening in that chapter. Whatever seems logical and reasonable.  I would say that range from 2000 words to 5000 - each of those being the outside numbers.

As far as reading is concerned - I prefer a long chapter because I'm greedy and I want lots of story. But, the length of the chapter doesn't really affect whether or not I review - that's based on how much I liked it.

And I have no idea what all you ladies with dirty minds are talking about...

I am not a minion of Evil...
I am upper management.
Mar 31 2007 01:46 am   #15GoldenBuffy

*snorts* Yes, Patti. We believe you. *not* You're as dirty as we are, lol.

And in the air the fireflies
Our only light in paradise
We'll show the world they were wrong
And teach them all to sing along
Mar 31 2007 02:02 am   #16slaymesoftly

Moi?  *blinks innocently* Nonsense! Pure as the driven snow, I am.  Mostly....

I am not a minion of Evil...
I am upper management.
Mar 31 2007 07:00 am   #17GoldenBuffy

*giggles* Me too.

And in the air the fireflies
Our only light in paradise
We'll show the world they were wrong
And teach them all to sing along
Apr 01 2007 03:34 am   #18Spikez_tart

Hi all.  2500-3000 seems to be a good length.  When I write chapters that are only 1,000 or 1,500 words, they are usually incomplete in some respect, or would be better off joined with another section.  I like to put two or three sections together with different scenes in one chapter, which is possibly questionable. 

 

 

If we want her to be exactly she'll never be exactly I know the only really real Buffy is really Buffy and she's gone' who?
Apr 01 2007 03:55 am   #19slaymesoftly

I don't think that's questionable, Spikez_tart.  If you think of each chapter as an act in a play - each one will have more than one scene.  Generally, there is more than one event happening during the same time frame, and it makes perfect sense to keep those events in the same chapter.  If the event in question is complex enough to fill up a whole chapter be itself, then you just go with the one scene, but if there are several that could be put together...


I am not a minion of Evil...
I am upper management.
Apr 01 2007 09:43 am   #20GoldenBuffy

yup, i do that all the time. a first time for me, a chapter just shy of 10,000 words. i've been busy, lol.

And in the air the fireflies
Our only light in paradise
We'll show the world they were wrong
And teach them all to sing along
Dec 18 2007 09:59 pm   #21Izzy

I'm a new fanfic writer and I've been a devoted reader for a while. So, I know the pain of waiting ages for a tiny chapter. I'm trying to get a head start before I begin posting my story. So far my chapters are around 2,500 words but reading how often people like 'novel-length' chapters is making me nervous. Does anyone click on a story and check the number of words and decide not to read just based on that? My story itself is definitely going to be novel-length but I don't want to risk making it rambling and losing its point by adding filler or restructuring too many scenes for chapter breaks. 

Please respond and set my mind at ease (or crush me, free speech can be a real hassle)! Thank you, aspiring author-- Izzy


Dec 18 2007 10:07 pm   #22Always_jbj

2 500 is about average for a chap, so certainly nothing to worry about.

And, no, I don't check to see what size chapters are before reading a story; however, if I started to read one and the chaps were consistently tiny (and I'm talking less than 1000 words) for no apparent reason other than to have LOTS of chapters then I would stop reading it.

Aim from the heart
Some will love and some will curse you, baby
You can go to war
But only if you have to 


Fanfic ~*~ Artwork ~*~ Live Journal
Dec 18 2007 10:09 pm   #23Diabola
Does anyone click on a story and check the number of words and decide not to read just based on that?

Yup, I do. Not so much on sites like this one, but on ff.net I don't touch a fic if it has an average of less than 1000 words/chapter. Oneshots are a different matter of course. I like really long chapters, simply because it means that the update provided more new material, but if I know the author or story I don't mind if a chapter falls short occassionally. But on "mass" archives like ff.net the wordcount has turned out to be pretty helpful on filtering out the crap. A fic with lots of short chapters may turn out good, but mostly they aren't worth my time.

"The difference between genius and stupidity is that genius has limits." - Albert Einstein
Dec 19 2007 03:18 pm   #24smlcspike

When I write a chapter I try not to send anything to my beta under 1500 words then it gives room if she need to remove things. I do like to read the longer chapters and do tend to do them too, but understand that some time they won't come.

I have learned to review everything that I read, I know as an Author how fustrating it is to get over 100 read and not a review or only one review.

And yes I do not like drabbles so I tend not to read them. I like the sites that have a word requirement of at least 1000 words. I like to read long fic chapters but 1500 to 2000 do me better cause with the long ones I end up having to get up and deal with my misbehaving child.

smlcspike.

 

Dec 19 2007 06:09 pm   #25pfeifferpack

Oddly enough I have never done a word count on any chapter of any story?!?!?  I close a chapter when it feels closed.  It tends to naturally run to about 8 - 10 pages on Word but I'm more interested in the flow.

I have noticed that in the publishing world it is not as rigid as in days past.  Some highly successful and creative writers have a mix of long and VERY short chapters in their novels.  Now when you get to some genre's or publishers there is nearly a formula.  Harlequin, for example, is completely formula driven.  You can know exactly the number of chapters, at what chapter various climaxes (HEY...not THAT kind!) occur, when conflict is going to happen and when THAT kind of climax will occur....no mystery, no deviation.  You can plot it out and fill in the blanks to produce one of these the only difference is that some of the better writers put some heart into it (and usually leave for other publishers in good times).

Kathleen

Dirty mind??  Just because my initial response to the title of the thread was, "If it hits the cervix it's too much." means NOTHING!

Dec 19 2007 08:58 pm   #26Always_jbj

LOL @ Kathleen! Want a bottle of bleach and a scrubbing brush for that mind of yours?? *grin*

smlcspike, I love drabbles...there is an enormous difference between a good 'true' drabble and a short chapter. lol Not that true drabbles show as that on here because Word's wordcount and the BSV's wordcount don't tend to agree.

Aim from the heart
Some will love and some will curse you, baby
You can go to war
But only if you have to 


Fanfic ~*~ Artwork ~*~ Live Journal
Dec 19 2007 11:43 pm   #27Eowyn315

Not that true drabbles show as that on here because Word's wordcount and the BSV's wordcount don't tend to agree.

Yeah, what's up with that? I figured maybe when I added the formatting code, it was counting that as words, but for some reason BSV's word count is always higher than Word's.

Writing should feel easy, like a monkey driving a speed boat.
Dec 20 2007 12:35 am   #28Always_jbj

Don't know for sure, but I'm guessing that the BSV counts contractions, hyphenated words etc as two words... I've had variations of up to 15 words...which is a lot when you're talking a true 100 word drabble.

Aim from the heart
Some will love and some will curse you, baby
You can go to war
But only if you have to 


Fanfic ~*~ Artwork ~*~ Live Journal
Dec 20 2007 01:24 am   #29NautiBitz

Well, for starters I want to say I am absolutely in awe of those of you who can crank out 5000+ word chapters like, every other day or once a week or whatever insane regular schedule you adhere to. I have no idea how you do it. I suspect that you might be robots, or at least partly bionic. Which of course makes you even more awesome, but I digress.

Personally -- and I'm only throwing this in as a counterpoint -- I have the attention span of a gnat, so I need everything I read (and write, with the exception of forum posts, eheh) to be short and succinct. (Or at least I try to keep it that way when writing.) I often have to stop reading long chapters midway and return to them later. And yes, I do have ADHD which I'm only just now getting treated for, so that's obviously the main reason for my distraction -- but then again, one of the tenets of user-friendly web design is to break up long pages of text into smaller pages. So I'm not *completely* alone in this.

And also, 'cause I have a few more minutes to talk out of my ass: I find word count to be a seriously flawed method of determining actual chapter/scene length. Because I write chiefly through dialog rather than long blocks of prose, my word counts are always considerably less than that of heavy-prose writers. Thus I don't rely on word count; I quantify chapters based on how long the scenes would last if acted out. So, if you filmed my 1000 word chapter side by side with someone's 5000, you might end up with the same scene length. You get just as much story; it's just been presented differently. But then, I'm also responsible for this chapter. So, never mind.

Oh, and eight inches is my max, but it's the thickness that really counts.

:nod:

~ * ~ * ~ * ~

Devilish billionaire Spike Pratt is accustomed to getting what he wants -- and what he wants is his beguiling, headstrong new daughter-in-law, Buffy. This won't be an easy chase... Crave, by NautiBitz. Join NautiFic to read (open membership, all are welcome!).
Mar 25 2009 01:48 pm   #30Lou
Oh, and eight inches is my max, but it's the thickness that really counts.

Absolutely.  I'm right with you there on the cinematic qualities!
Mar 26 2009 12:25 am   #31Lilachigh
 Must admit I don't count words in chapters.  To me it is a section of  story I am telling and normally has a natural break or a hook to pull the reader into the next chapter.  I'm also of the school where you tighten and cut as much as possible because some fics are so wordy the story gets lost. I would be horrified to think new fic writers are worrying about how many words they should write before worrying about what they are actually saying.
 Lilachigh
Mar 26 2009 03:10 am   #32slaymesoftly
Amen, Lilac!
I am not a minion of Evil...
I am upper management.