Chapter Breaks???

Forums Fiction General Writing Discussions Chapter Breaks???

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    Rachel Rogers

    Long story short, I’m trying to figure out chapter breaks for my novel. 😐 I’m going to sift through my writerly books and peruse writerly websites for advice as well, but I’d love it if y’all would weigh in on some of this stuff that’s bouncing around in my head…

    • Do you prefer long chapters or short chapters?
    • Is it better to switch chapters on a cliffhanger or at the end of a thought?
    • Is it better to plan chapters while writing the first draft, or to go back later and split the draft into chapters?
    • Is there a point to having chapter titles?

    Any other thoughts you have on chapterifying [shush, Spellcheck, I know it’s not a word] a novel are welcome as well! 😀

    , @rolena-hatfield , and anyone else I should be thinking of to ask. 😛

    Ambiverted INFP. Scribbles all the words. Names the plant friends. Secretly Edna the Piguirrel.

    Rolena Hatfield


    Here’s a few random chapterifying thoughts. 🙂

    – Most readers tend to like chapters on the shorter side (myself included), especially in the YA and Middle grade audiences. (short attention spans 😉 ) I’ve heard somewhere that chapters at about 3,000 words (about ten pages) is a good limit. (specifically for those target ages I mentioned.)

    – I feel that chapters can shift at either point (provided it keeps me turning the page. 🙂 a cliffhanger is good for that, but as long as something intriguing happened in the chapter making me want more(aka building suspense or conflict), ending on a thought can do this as well.)

    – I’ve heard of people doing both! Myself personally loves to make chapters before hand as I go. It helps me with the arc of each scene/chapter and helps me pace the conflict/character arcs accordingly. 🙂 I’ve never not done chapter breaks as I go, so i can’t speak for the other side. 🙂

    – Hmmm…. not sure cause personally some chapter titles annoy me. 😛 Sometime about not like the hint at what’s to come (it feels like a spoiler maybe?) However famous authors have used chapter titles and I’m sure they have a great purpose. Again I’ve never used them so I’m not sure. 🙂 Perhaps someone else will have better answers for you. 🙂

    Love your new word by the way 😀 Chapterifying.

    Rachel Rogers


    That’s great input, thanks! Lots to think about.

    I’m kind of partial to my newly invented word too. xD

    Ambiverted INFP. Scribbles all the words. Names the plant friends. Secretly Edna the Piguirrel.

    Taylor Clogston

    Rolena is right on the money with chapter length (and the other stuff too =P).

    Chapter break on a cliffhanger when you expect your reader to keep reading. Break at the end of a thought when you want to emphasize the poignancy of that last thought and expecting the reader might take a break here.

    As for planning out your chapter breaks, this is more important when you’re posting online in serial, like on Wattpad or Royal Road or even on your own blog. In this case you should be carefully episodizing your story in chapters. Otherwise I feel it’s more important to think of the story in scenes rather than chapters, and never chapter break in the middle of a scene except at the climax. But that’s just my opinion =P

    If you’re serializing it’s 100% necessary to have chapter titles. Online you treat chapter titles like mini book titles, additional chances to hook new readers in the middle of your publishing cycle. Otherwise, you should be looking at your genre conventions and following them (same with chapter length, though 2500-3500 is a great safe zone for everything above middle grade and maybe thriller). Some people like Rolena and I hate them, but in some genres they’re expected. I’m afraid I don’t know what those are, though =P

    "...the one with whom he so sought to talk has already interceded for him." -The Master and Margarita

    Brandon Miller

    Ugh, so chapter breaks are the one thing that I’ve kind of always been good at?  (Not in like a stuck up way, but just in a ever writer is really good at one thing to start with way…) And so… I really don’t even know.  I don’t think I’ve ever thought about how to end a chapter.  I organized my chapters around value changes, so that each chapter encompasses something significant happening in the plot, and then I wrote toward that until I hit an ending (usually a line) that was either suspenseful or thought-provoking.  So… yeah I’m no good at helping on this one.  Sorry.

    Fair Winds and Following Seas,
    Brandon Miller -- Wesley Turner

    Parker Hankins

    I always write chapters first. It just helps me out so much with the story. The main problem I run in to from that is if I have to delete or add scenes. Otherwise, it helps me get ahead for the next draft.

    Living in a world of mystery and dangerous predicaments while working with the AWESOME Meraki's.

    Rachel Rogers


    Good points. Thanks! I’m not serializing, but I’ve thought about doing that at some point, so I will definitely keep that in mind if I do! 🙂


    Ugh, it’s so annoying when other people are good at stuff. Lol. Thanks for trying. 😛


    Cool. Thanks for the input! 🙂

    Ambiverted INFP. Scribbles all the words. Names the plant friends. Secretly Edna the Piguirrel.


    @scribbles Such great questions!

    I think it all comes down to opinion in some cases (chapter titles, chapter length – me personally, I love chapter titles [adds personality!] and a good chapter length for me is kind of in between short and long [longer chapters than 1-2 pages but shorter than like 20-or-more full pages], like @rolena-hatfield said… sadly I fit into the short-attention-spanned teenager stereotype xDD), but I would like to say a few things anyway and maybe it’ll be of some use. *thumbs-up*

    A bit on chapter titles, I absolutely love them, like I said, but there are a few things of which one should take note… (also note: these are all just my opinions. xD)

    • Chapter Titles are awesome when they are ironic or perhaps even a little sarcastic, not as much when they aren’t. Exhibit A) “Justin Stops By” [oh, Justin stops by… okay]. Exhibit B) “In Which The Neighbor Is Annoying” [Hilarious and even relatable, plus a little foreshadowing on Justin’s appearance. Thumbs up, author].
    • Chapter Titles are awesome when there’s a hint of foreshadowing or symbolism, but not when it’s painfully obvious. Exhibit C) “Darkness Falls”/”My Eyes are Opened”/something along those lines [obviously we know something terrible or important is going to happen here, which takes away some of the suspense and makes us lose interest in the story, and honestly when this happens I lose some respect for the author – try harder, boi]. Exhibit D) “Nathan Hale” or something, I admit this bit of chapter-titling is not my strong suit. xDD [Nathan Hale, as the history geeks may know, was a spy who was executed during the revolutionary war, and was quoted to have said “My only regret is that I have but one life to lose for liberty” (or something like that ^^’) – and this image could very much pack a lot of foreshadowing and symbolism, while at the same time not being too obvious. Plus, bonus points that some people may not even know who Nathan Hale is. *thumbs-up*]
    • Chapter Titles are awesome when written from first person, especially if the narrator is comedic. See Exhibit B. If the story to which this chapter title belonged had a spunky, twelve-year-old brunet boy as the main character, that would increase my love for it. Because it’s just great. xD

    As for chapter endings, @taylorclogston makes a great case for that, but I still have a few things that may be helpful:

    • I’m not a huge fan of cliffhangers and then perspective switches because it just makes me want to skip to where the character I was reading about resurfaces. xD Call it cheating, but it’s still true. I rarely ever end up actually doing it, but it does make me kind of skim through the next chapter and not really pay attention to what’s going on because I’m just like, whaT HAPPENED TO MY BABY!?!?!??
    • The above being considered, I would end my chapters on cliffhangers at the beginning of the story, probably, because the readers aren’t as attached to the characters and the suspense alone could be what keeps them reading. HOWEVER, it may actually be better to do cliffhangers when the readers are more attached to the characters because it makes them scream internally, which is good because then you know your story is gripping. xD So, I’m not sure. I guess there’s a lot to be considered when choosing when to do a cliffhanger. Another thing you need to think about it, how many cliffhangers have I done already? I know that, for me, if the last three or four chapters were like, honest-to-goodness cliffhangers, I kind of get bored and lose interest due to the author’s various attempts to raise my alarm. In trying to create a lot of suspense, it usually ends up backfiring. At least when I’m reading it. But then again, I’m not the kind of person who immediately reaches for thriller books either, just because I’m like, the main character is probably going to survive anyway, so… Or I just kind of open the book and don’t really get attached to the characters because I know a lot of them are probably going to end up dying. *shrug* There really is a lot to think about. xD Those are just a few of my thoughts.

    And I think that’s about all I have to input. P: I really couldn’t say much about how to split chapters and scenes because… I have little to no experience on that… so…

    GOOD LUCK! *thumbs up*

    Married a blacksmith, and now frequently uses his knowledge for writing fantasy.

    Rachel Rogers


    Lots of good info! Thanks!

    Ambiverted INFP. Scribbles all the words. Names the plant friends. Secretly Edna the Piguirrel.

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