Friday, February 24, 2012

The long and short of chapters

My guest post today is from Cindi Maciolek.
Cindi R. Maciolek is a writer and business consultant, whose published works include Divatiel: Reflections of a bird’s companion; Java Jems: 5 Minute Inspirations for Busy People and The Basics of Buying Art. She’s also a contributing author to the books Life Choices: Pursuing Your Passion and Life Choices: It’s Never Too Late. Maciolek has written numerous articles for the luxury marketplace, including the Robb Report and Luxury Las Vegas. Maciolek lives in Las Vegas, Nevada. www.cindimaciolek.com.
Cindi has written a great post about whether to write using long or short chapters.  It's definitely thought-provoking.  Personally, I prefer short chapters.  As I read every night before going to sleep, I set myself a chapter as a goal.  If the chapter is too long and I'm getting tired, giving each eye a chance to stay open, I get frustrated.  In my own writing my chapters tend to be short, averaging about 1400 words a chapter.  I find this moves the story along much faster.  But enough about me, let's hear what Cindi Maciolek has to say on the subject.

The long and short of chapters
Lately, it seems, I’ve been chatting a lot with people about chapter length. So, I thought I’d put some thoughts together and get feedback from a larger group. Perhaps you think about it when you read, maybe you don’t. The question is, how does chapter length affect the reading experience?

From my personal perspective, I prefer shorter chapters. I’ve worked in the business world for so long that I’m used to keeping things short and sweet. Many business people I know read particular magazines simply because most of the articles are confined to a single page. In this crazy, busy world, there’s a sense of accomplishment learning something in such a short period of time, as well as being able to complete the task of reading the article.
Dan Brown keeps his chapters nice and short. It helps to maintain the speed of the novel. Of course, when a book takes place within a 24-hour window, speed is of the essence. However, I quite enjoy some of those chapters that are a mere one page in length.

I’ve spoken to readers of historical and romance novels and they tell me they prefer the long length of some of the chapters, that it’s necessary to absorb all the detail. I can’t say I’ve read books many in those genres, so I can’t personally comment. But, it made me wonder if chapter length should differ among genres, and how many writers take chapter length into consideration when they begin a project.
I’ve always enjoyed books where chapters averaged about 10-15 pages, so I try to limit mine to about 2,500 words. When I sit down to write, I let the words flow. I have an idea of where I want that chapter to go, but if it starts to get unwieldy, I end it at an appropriate point, and begin a new chapter. Sometimes, the idea for one chapter actually takes three.

I’ve written mostly non-fiction, but I’m currently knee-deep in a chick-lit novel that I love, love, love!  I’ve also written some other novels that I’ve not yet published. Whether by chance or by choice, it seems I’ve kept to that 10-15 page chapter length all along.
So, I’m curious. What are your thoughts on chapter length? As a writer, do you think in-depth about the word count of each individual chapter, or just the overall word count? As a reader, do you think chapter length affects your reading experience? Do you prefer short or long?
Please post your comments! I’m keen to read them. Cindi Maciolek
Cindi's latest book is Divatiel: Reflections of a bird's companion. 
Can four ounces of feathers and personality change a person’s life?
She can if she’s the Divatiel!
Cindi was looking for a roommate, and finally settled on a fine-feathered friend who was a gift from a co-worker. What she got was a loving, intelligent, fun, free-spirited, demanding – Jaké.
After recovering from illness that put her near death’s door, Jaké healed and was let out of the cage so she could spread her wings. She lived her life with gusto. Jaké took risks, used her intelligence to her advantage and loved unconditionally. She took charge, not only over her surroundings but over her owner as well. Luckily, she had a cooperative Mommy in Cindi.
Not only was she demanding, Jaké did things some humans have never done. She flew on an airplane several times, went on numerous road trips and ate fresh vegetables daily.
Jaké lived a very long life and had many adventures along the way, most of which are captured in this book.
Jaké was first a gift to William, then a gift to Cindi, and now a gift to the world.
Divatiel: Reflections of a bird’s companion will tug at your heart strings and bring a smile to any animal lover.

1 comment:

BK Walker said...

Thank you for hosting Cindi :)