Thursday Writing Tip

This little tip is for the writers that stress over the question, ‘How long should my chapters be?’ My answer – it really shouldn’t matter.

Give your chapters room to breathe. Often times, us writers have an idea of how many words work per chapter, but limiting your chapters to a certain word count can put restraints on your story.

Think about it this way – as the reader, do you care if Chapter Three is 2,350 words and Chapter Four is 1,500 words? No, probably not. Why? Because the reader is reading to be entertained and if your chapters do that, they probably don’t care about how many words are in them. And they probably aren’t counting them either. Chapters that are short are fun at times when the reader doesn’t have hours to spare, and long chapters are okay because the reader knows how to use a bookmark. At least, we hope.

I’m not saying just write and do your chapter breaks whenever you want. Consistency is helpful for readers, because a few chapters in, they’ll have an idea of your writing style, and how long they have to go to finish each chapter, but there is no right or wrong way to establishing chapter lengths. Each chapter should have a story relevant to the whole book, and sometimes the writer can achieve this in a few words, sometimes not.

When I first started writing, I obsessed, and I mean OBSESSED over making each chapter close to two thousand words. I’m not sure why, but that felt like a good number for me. And it took me…oh, three books, I’d say, before I realized it’s not the NUMBER it’s the CONTENT that should be important. I still hit around 2k per chapter now, but not intentionally. I let the chapters choose their length, so all those little stories fit in the book better. And it takes the stress off me a bit. “I need to write 500 more words to finish this chapter…” is no longer an issue. If the chapter is done, it’s done. Period.

So stop stressing about your chapter word count. Just write. You can go back and fix your chapter breaks later, if you must. Write the way you want your work to be read, and the numbers won’t matter so much.

 

Happy Thursday!

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