Wednesday, February 5, 2014

When to Stop the Page

By Tracy Kiely
Despite what your 11th grade English teacher told you, there are no hard and set rules for how long a chapter must be.  Don’t believe me?  Then take a look at some of these chapters:

Misery by Stephen King
Chapter:   "Rinse."

Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There by Lewis Carroll
Chapter:  "And it really was a kitten after all."

It by Stephen King
Chapter: "Nothing much happened for the next two weeks."

Gremlins by George Gipe
Chapter: "Pete forgot."

Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury
Chapter: "Nothing much else happened that night."

Angela's Ashes by Frank McCourt
Chapter: "T'is."
And one of my personal favorites:

This Is A Book by Demetri Martin
Chapter: "How to Read This Book:
If you're reading this sentence then you've pretty much got it. Good job. Just keep going the way you are.
(please ignore this part)"

So, as you can see/read, a chapter conveys a thought, point, or bit of action that conveys what you want it to be. It’s a scene for your readers. Some chapters are long. Some chapters are VERY long (read: Charles Dickens who as we all know was paid by the word). Some are very short (hello Mr. King). What your chapter length is depends on what feels right for you. When you’ve made your point and finished the scene you’re probably done. If a voice in your head yells “And cut!” then you definitely are. (Though on an unrelated note, if you routinely hear voices, you might want to get that checked out.)


Meredith Cole said...

Love the short chapter examples, Tracy! But I think if you routinely hear voices, you're probably a writer...

lil Gluckstern said...

I am struck by the similarity between King's quote from IT, Bradbury's SOMETHING WICKED THIS WAY COMES. Do you think Kingread Brdbury:)? Or that he did that on purpose. Love the post, and I'll pay further attention from now on.

Free Spirited said...

Good evening,
On an unrelated topic, when can we read your next book? I miss your characters!
Please hear more voices!
Thanks, Sylvie : )