Nantwich Writers' Group Logo
Nantwich Writers' Group
Sharon J's Writing Blog
Welcome to The Nantwich Writers' Group Web Site
Please feel free to look around - you'll find information about the group's work, our group diary as well as the writing diaries of individual members.
 About Penny
 Perpetual Story
 Message Boards
 Group Blog
 Penny’s Blog
 Sharon’s Blog
 Iona’s Blog
 Chris’ Blog
 Richard's Blog
 Christopher's Blog
 Kate's Blog
 Joan's Blog
 Shirley's Blog
 Carole's Blog
 Kate Allan
 Debi Alper
 Amanda Ashby
 Ally Blake
 Jaci Burton
 Martyn Clayton
 Julie Cohen
 Karen Dindia
 Karen Lee Field
 Liz Fielding
 Kate Hardy
 Fiona Harper
 Jeanne Haskett
 Anna Lucia
 Natasha Oakley
 Kim Rees
 Julie S
 Jack Slyde
 Kate Walker
 Sasha White
 Trish Wylie
 All Kinds of Writing
 Another 52 Books
 Characters Journey
 Inner Minx
 Literary Chicks
 Scribes' Sanctuary
 Struggling Writer
 The Hopeless Writer
 "Knit One, Kill One" by Maggie Sefton
 "The Pact" by Jodi Picoult
 "Common Ground" by Andrew Cohan
 "Dead Simple" by Peter James
 "When The Devil Holds The Candle" by Karin Fossum
 "Being A Bad Girl" by Julie Cohen
 "The Italian Duke's Wife" by Penny Jordan
 A Wife on Paper - Liz Fielding
 O'Reilly's Bride - Trish Wylie
 A Nanny For Keeps - Liz Fielding
 On Writing - Stephen King
 Acid Row - Minette Walters
 Light As A Feather - Helen Dunne
 A Mother For His Daughter - Ally Blake
  Happy Birthday, Willy Waggledagger.
  Easy PC? I Don't Think So!
  The Halfway House
  This and That
  Today Will Be A Good Day!
  Moved To The Nantwich Writers' Group
  A Day Out
  Name Change
  Poorly Thoughts
Powered by Blogger


Locations of visitors to this page

Number of online users in last 3 minutes

Zokutou word meter
Sherry & Leo
Rejected by HM&B
Zokutou word meterZokutou word meter
Darcie & Alex
17,221 / 55,000 (31.3%)
RNA Awards
Monday, April 24, 2006
Erica James - Winner of The Foster Grant Romantic Novel of The YearNo doubt most of you will have come across a few blogs mentioning the recent Romantic Novelists' Association awards ceremony at The Savoy in London. From what I've heard, a good time was had by all and my congratulations go to Erica James and Jessica Hart who won 'The Foster Grant Romantic Novel of The Year Award' and 'The Romance Prize For Best Category Romance Of The Year' respectively.

I noticed that The Independent ran a piece about the event congratulating Erica on winning the Foster Grant award, which I'm sure pleased her no end, but what I want to know is why Jessica wasn't mentioned. Is the winner of The Romance Prize not as important or newsworthy as the Foster Grant winner? I think that's rather unfair, don’t you? Unfair and discriminatory against authors of category romance.

Until now, I've always written my manuscripts first and then added the chapters afterwards by looking for the best hooks and placing them there. But a discussion at the last NWG meeting got me thinking that maybe I'd try doing thing the 'conventional way' (if there is such a thing) this time.

At the moment my WIP has an average of 5,300 words per chapter and I'm wondering whether that's too many. The longest has 10,300 words and the shortest 2,200.

I know there are no hard and fast rules around this--I've read books that have had chapters consisting of just one line and one that had just three chapters to about 100,000 words--but because, when I'm reading, I often find myself saying "I'll just finish this chapter first", it's important to me that chapters aren't too long or I feel as if I'll never get to the place where I can put it down and do whatever boring task happens to be waiting for me.

Having said that, it's also important that the end of the chapter has a strong enough hook that it leaves the reader hurrying through whatever chore or errand interrupted her reading, because more than anything else, she has to get back to the book!

So what do you think? Bearing in mind that I'm aiming specifically at HMB Tender, should my chapters be shorter or are they ok? I think perhaps I ought to split up the 10,000 word chapter as that's probably a bit too long to be work for those who do the "when I get to the end of the chapter" thing.

Any thoughts?

Posted by Sharon J on 3:09 PM   

Blogger madukwriter said...

I've got a few dozen or so modern romances floating around they seem to have between 10 and 14 chapters. Given the last time a looked the guidelines the size was 50 - 55k. So if you were aiming for the top target of 55k the most you could have would be 5.5k per chapter with only ten chapters.
My creative writing tutor keeps banging on about how you loose 10% during the editing phase, so I wouldn't worry about it if you are bit over.

8:45 PM   

Blogger Sue aka MsCreativity said...

Hi Sharon,
I'm not 100% sure about the length chapters should be. I don't have any recent Tender books, but I know the Medical line seems to range between 10 to 14 chapters. IMHO I think somewhere between 2,500 and 5,000 is good to aim for.
One thing I've started doing is trying to forget the wordcount and go by pages.
I too am finding it difficult to get the 'hook' in the right place. My problem is it seems to come too early. My first chapter is only 2,531 words (17 pages, and my second chapter is struggling to get that many words, purely because the hook is coming too soon. I hope as I settle into the novel the chapters will become longer.
Perhaps we are worrying too much on our first draft? :-)

8:56 PM   

Blogger Minx said...

Ask yourself some questions Sharon
1. Does the story flow with the breaks that you have put in?
2. Have you dragged out something that may feel better as two chapters?
3. What is the publishers formula (if you have one in mind)?
4. Do you like it the way it is?
5.Do you love it the way it is?
6. Will the chapter's order/sequence convince me that I will love it too?
My first book has ten chapters and the second has twenty-six. Some writers don't use chapters at all. How you write is up to you and I think we all get caught up in the many (mostly dreary) creative writing courses and their own personal advice. Stop worrying about it, you will get a better idea when you have finished the initial construction.

10:11 PM   

Blogger Jeanne said...

Interesting question, Sharon. I'm glad you asked it.

I checked my "control sheet" - my table in MS Word where I keep I running tally of both words and pages per chapter.

Bearing in mind that I write historicals which generally run anywhere from 80,000 to 100,000 words, my novel currently sitting with HMB has an average of 5,360 words, with the leanest (and first) at 2,105 and the longest 10,037. Very similar to the figures you report. Go figure!

Since Tender romances are shorter, I'd venture to say try not to go over 5,000 as MsCreativity advises. However, Minx is right - your writer's intuition should have veto power no matter what.

2:38 AM   

Anonymous Sharon J said...

Thanks for the input, folks.

Madukwriter (love the name). I can see what you're tutor means but as I revise as I go, I doubt I'll lose as much as 10%. Can't say for sure yet, though. It'll be interesting to see.

Mscreativity. I've read a good few Tenders and they tend to range from 10 - 14 chapters mostly (same as the Meds ) but apart from counting words, I don't know how many words the longest/shortest chapters consist of. I've come to the conclusion that a chapter should be as long as it needs to be - in other words, it ends when the hook comes. Although having said that, I'm going to try to keep them under 8,000 words because of the "I'll just finish this chapter" issue.

Minx. Let's see:

1. Yes
2. Not that I can find, no. I may find something when I do a final read of the entire ms, though.
3. I don't know, that's why I mentioned writing for the Tender HMB line. I was hoping a seasoned Tender author might help.
4. Not entirely. I'd prefer the 10,000 word chapter shorter.
5. See above.
6. How do you mean? I'm not quite sure how chapter sequence affects whether or not a reader loves a book.
7. Ah... there wasn't a seven!

I'm not exactly worrying about it (as in sleepless nights, etc), I'm just trying to learn my craft as well as I can and hearing others' opinions of different aspects of writing is always helpful. Even if I don't take the advise, it always gets me thinking.

Jeanne. Strange that our chapters are so similar in length. But as you say, yours is a historical and much longer. As I said above, I've decided to try to stick to 5,000 as a maximum (although I won't be beating myself up if I go over that). Thanks for your thoughts :)

So... back to the book. I'm going to have a look at that long chapter now. Maybe I can split it. Or maybe not. We'll see.

12:54 PM   

Anonymous Dattern din! said...

Do you remember the book Stray (Bustehale)? I lent it to one of my teacher, and I got it back today! She said she loved it, and her son has read it as well! =)

As you know, I'm not a great reader. But I am really really proud as I've now read two Anne Holt books, Salige er de som trøster, and, Død Joker (nesten 500 sider :O )... The "I'll just finish this chapter first" doesn't always work though - I said that at 22:00 and didn't let go of the book (oh it hurt when I finally did) before 03:00, having read more than a few chapters! :P

Hmm... *skravle skravle* Det viste du jo allerede... Bare litt stolt av meg selv! :P

2:01 PM   

Anonymous Sharon J said...

Yes, I remember 'Stray' very well. It's one of the best children's stories I've ever read so I'm not at all surprised that your teacher enjoyed it. I'll have to buy a copy for myself (I can already hear Richard crying at the thought of even more books coming into the house).

It's odd that you're not a big reader. I was always told that children who are read to a lot as toddlers will grow up loving books. Maybe you just had a bit of a break during your teens but that the desire to read will bloom now that you're older?

I've read quite a few Anne Holt books, and when you come over you can borrow my Karin Fossum book "When The Devil Holds The Candle". Their styles are similar but Karin's story is based in Drammen. Even though the town is never given a name, I guessed it was Drammen within about 10 pages.

Anne Holt has obviously succeeded in her mission as an author: to keep the reader hanging on to her book for as long as possible :)

Keep reading, sweetie. There's a world of entertainment out there waiting for you. Hopefully, one day you'll be able to read one of my books ;-)

3:34 PM   

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love short chapters - as a reader and a writer but my manuscripts have been about 80K. My wip is 100K and I do worry I have way too many chapters now. Something to think about.

9:45 PM   

Anonymous Dattern din... said...

Lol! Yes, I can hear him as well - your book collection isn't exactly getting any smaller! ;)

Just had a quick search and came across this (not sure if they allow links on here, but I'll try):

Is this the book you're thinking about?... I thought maybe, being as you once complained about poor translation (bad devil), I could red it in Norwegian in stead?

10:02 PM   

Blogger C. H. Green said...

I'm writing my first novel, and it's a suspense novel. My chapters are averaging 2000 words, and I am worried that they are too short. Plus, I am at, what I think, is the halfway point at 30,000 words. And I just talked to a publisher that says their standard is 80,000 words. Now I'm wondering if I'm going to be able to meet the length requirement. Since the book is still in its early stages, I am trying to focus on just getting my story down. I am determined that this will not be a half finished manuscript lying around gathering dust. Love this blog!

11:23 PM   

Anonymous Sharon J said...

Katy. I have to admit that, as a reader, I prefer short chapters but after reading the responses to my post, I've come to the conclusion that it really doesn't matter. I've asked a few friends, too, and they've all said they prefer short chapters but don't mind if the odd long one appears now and then. I think I'll just stick as I am for the time being. If the book sells (big IF there), I'm sure the editor will soon let me know if it needs changing.

Lise. No, that wasn't the book. You posted a link to a P.G.Wodehouse book. I guess that was a mistake? The book I was talking about can be found by clicking here. You're right about the translation - it left more than just a little to be desired.

C.H.Green. I'm so glad you took the time to visit my blog. It's always nice to 'meet' other first-timers. I think what you're doing is probaby best, to just get the story down and out of your head and then play around with it later. That way, at least it'll be written. I think all the 'fine tuning' during the initial first draft has been my downfall until now.

12:22 AM   

Blogger Kate Walker said...

Hi Sharon -

I keep getting asked your question - how long is a chapter. In fact, I get asked it so often that I keep a standard reply ready to post to whoever asked - so here you go . . .

A Chapter is a chapter - it has a beginning, a middle and an end, much as a whole book does. It starts when you want it to start and it ends when it comes to an appropriate point.

I have had chapters of 4 pages and chapters of 25+ - the whole point is that it has a curve of movement to it - starting from a point A and moving the action/characters/development of plot/development of the relationship to another point along the line of development of the novel. This can be a major breakthrough or movement forward - a step forward and then step back - or just a realisation that after all the debate/argument/ whatever - the couple are still totally at stalemate.

The only RULE about Chapter length is that there are no rules about it. Some people believe that a chapter must be no more than 25 pages - What would you do if you had 25 pages and one sentence? Cut that last sentence so that your chapter fitted?

A chapter is a scene or set of scenes from your character' stories - it is not a set number of pages, words or anything

I may have put this answer in the 12 Point Guide but I don't remember - anyway, I hope it helps


7:39 AM   

Anonymous Sharon J said...

Kate. Thank you so much for taking the trouble to explain that. I don't think the answer's in the 12-point guide (although I wouldn't bet my house on it) as I read through that regularly so I'm sure I would have known the answer. But not to worry, these questions are all part of the learning curve and part of what makes the experience of writing an interesting one.

Your explanation certainly makes sense and rings a bell with me somewhere (maybe it was in the 12-points, after all). With what you wrote in mind, I think my chapters will have to stay as they are. The reason they became the length they are is, after all, because I started the next chapter because the previous one came to its natural conclusion.

Thinking of them as mini-stories within the story is a good idea. Thank you :-)

11:10 AM   

Blogger Cherry Rolfe said...

What an interesting thread. After spending three years immersed in a Lit. degree, I have never analysed chapter definition. I am definitely a 'read to the end of the chapter' person thus giving authorial control to the writer as to when I either turn my bedside light off, get up, make dinner, pick DS up late or early from school, etc. etc. Now you all tell me its pretty arbitrary!! I love teeny tiny one page chapters such as Richard Brautigan's and I also love lengthy intricate chapters when "just finishing the chapter" means staying in bed until 2.00pm on a Sunday.
On the offspring's reading - my two were avid readers as children, and are too busy socialising now. I definitely had an hiatus in adolescence before returning to books, so maybe our miniatures will do the same.

10:20 AM   

Anonymous Sharon J said...

Cherry. I'm hoping Lise will gather momentum now that she's started reading again. She even sweet-talked me into ordering the book that she linked to in her comment (or tried to - I linked to it in mine) so there's hope.

Any chance of you sharing that glass of wine you're holding? You keep tempting me with it ;-)

11:33 AM   

Post a Comment

<< Home