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A Quick Word on Short Chapters

Are long or short chapters better? I don’t think there is a right or wrong answer here. As long as the chapter length makes sense to the story, it’s perfectly OK.

I am a fan of both writing and reading chapters on the shorter side. Many well-known books have short chapters. They include, ‘The Martian’ by Andy Weir, ‘The Davinci Code’ by Dan Brown, and ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ by Margaret Attwood.

Many readers like short chapters. They are easy to read. If like me, you struggle to find time in your day to read, short chapters allow you to fit reading in to your busy day in short bursts. They are great if you only have fifteen minutes a day to read, or you have a short commute on the bus to work. Some people don’t have the stamina or the time to read seventy pages in one sitting.

Using short chapters can hasten the pace of the story, keeping it exciting for the reader. Long chapters can have the opposite effect and can slow down the pace. As well as light hearted women’s fiction, I also enjoy reading a good thriller. Short chapters work really well in this genre, as it can heighten the suspense as the story goes along.

Short chapters can be addicting, as you quickly finish one and move on to the next. They can also help entice a reader to keep on reading. ‘Just one more chapter.’ It will keep a reader turning the pages. If you end many of your chapters on a bit of a cliff-hanger, your reader will keep going, as they know the next chapter will only take a few minutes to read. Let’s face it, as an author, there is nothing better than hearing, ‘I just could not put the book down’.

Personally I find long drawn out chapters frustrating, as I tend to flip forward in order to see how long it will take me to read. At times, I have the attention span of a flea. I don’t like to put a book down mid chapter, so long ones can be annoying when you just want to go to sleep, or your lunch break at work is over.

Short chapters make the reader feel like they are getting through the book faster. This is great for impatient people, giving them a sense of achievement much sooner. It’s an illusion on the author’s part, but a rather clever one if you ask me.

I did some research and it turns out most bestselling books have shorter chapter. So, it seems there is hope for me yet.

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1 Comment

Kat Duncan
Kat Duncan
Jul 15, 2020

I agree, I love short chapters and long chapters put me off.

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