Sunday, March 3, 2013


Action can be broken down into sections. Real life can be divided into days, television has commercials, and books have chapters.

Do you pay attention to chapters? How they break up the action of the story plays a big part in how the book is experienced. Are chapters long or short? Do the chapters have divisions as well? I believe that chapters and their placement as well as length, play an integral part in the pacing of a novel.

In general, I am only able to read in short bursts. I try to read for 10 minutes or so during my lunch break at work. My main reading time is in the bathroom. Yes, I admit it. I am a bathroom reader. I love to read in the bathtub and that's where most of my reading is accomplished. Sometimes I read in bed, before going to sleep and sometimes, when I'm on vacation, before getting up. With that in mind, I prefer short chapters. I also tend to read more with short chapters. I finish one so quickly, that I read another...and another, especially when the chapters end with a cliffhanger. It's interesting to note that some chapters end at a stopping point, while others are cliffhangers. Those cliffhangers beg you to keep reading.

Some chapters have divisions within themselves. I'm never sure about those. Why not start a new chapter? In some cases I see the chapters might be considered too short if the author were to do that. Still, some chapters are quite long and have those breaks as well. Personally, I like to stop reading at the end of a chapter. Sometimes super long chapters prohibit that. In some cases I even stop reading to see how much longer I have to go before the chapter ends.

Some authors have a table of contents at the start of their books, listing all of the chapters. Sometimes these chapters also have titles. Carole Nelson Douglas does this with her Midnight Louis Series. If you read these you may have a glimmer of what's to come. Some authors start each chapter with a saying or quote, Darynda Jones uses this approach in her Charley Davidson Series. Krista Davis starts each chapter of the Domestic Diva Mysteries with a question and reply from either Sophie or Natasha's columns. Some authors give tips between chapters (gardening tips, recipes, and so on) while others put their tips at the end.

What do you think about chapters? Do you have a preference between long or short chapters? Or have you not even considered it?

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