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Does length matters?

Discussion in 'The Authors' Café' started by Crystal, Oct 8, 2012.

  1. Crystal

    Crystal The Pokemon Observer

    I just read a thread in another forum that said the length of the chapters may encourage or discourage the readers to continue reading the story. Therefore, some authors at that sites tends to make a word limits (both minimum and maximum limits) when they write a fic.

    From the viewpoint of a reader (NOT from a writer), do you think length of the chapters matters? Does it really discouraging for you to read a long chapter?

    Currently I'm reading a light novel, where chapters can range from approximately 15 pages up to a third of the book itself. Personally I don't think it is a pain to read it, I'm encourage to read it not because of the length, but because of the story plot itself. For me, as long as the story is good, the length doesn't matter.

    But I know, not all readers are like me. So I wanted to know, does chapter length matters to you when reading a book? Whether it is fan-fiction, non-fiction, or even articles.
  2. Diddy

    Diddy Renegade

    It can work in both ways.

    If you see a really long fic, with a lot of high word length chapters, then you know that you'll have a lot to read and enjoy if you like the fic. On the same token, it could end up being 100,000 words of trite nonsense. It could be decent enough, but have excessively tedious descriptions and padded out scenes and filler chapters to give the illusion of quality. There are honestly people out there who believe that quantity = quality and that's perhaps why long fics can put people off.

    Also, not everyone has time to read long fics. You might only have about half an hour of computer time and you don't want to spend all of that on one chapter of one fic.

    Short fics have the ability to amuse people for five minutes and give them a short but sweet slice of life. They can also signify lack of descriptions and no substance, which if added, could make the fic a lot better. Then again, some people write short fics to be "artsy" and it comes off as annoyingly pretentious instead of an enjoyable short story.

    In short, there are disadvantages and advantages to both. I will say this though, it's often generally accepted that UP UNTIL A CERTAIN POINT, quantity is really important as it gives the reader something to... well, read. If Douglas Adams released Hitchhikers' one chapter at a time every week, then when it got around to the chapter that's about one line/paragraph, then everybody would feel cheated out of their time. It's like waiting all week for the next episode of your favourite anime only to find out it's a clip show episode showcasing the highlights of episodes already gone.

    Once you've reached a happy minimum for a word count that people can actually sink their teeth into and enjoy, the rest of the chapter can go where it wants. At least in my opnion.
  3. Griff4815

    Griff4815 No. 1 Grovyle Fan

    Length isn't so much as important as how you use it.

    If a story is really engaging, I don't particularly mind long chapters. Like I said, it's more the content of the chapters that matters to me.
  4. Air Dragon

    Air Dragon Ha, ha... not.

    Like Griff and Diddy have said before me, it's not how long you make, it's how interesting it is.

    This is just me, but if the chapter's of a somewhat considerable length, it basically tells me as a reader that he put some time into this. Sure, I'm wrong at times and the length isn't everything. It just means that there's more for me to sink my teeth in. :D

  5. Dragonfree

    Dragonfree Just me Staff Member Moderator

    I think it's fairly natural for length to affect how willing a reader is to read a story - I'm likelier to read a page-long one-shot than to read a 100,000-word epic because reading the one-shot takes very little time and commitment once I decide to read it, while the epic takes a lot. Sure, I've occasionally gone on epic-reading sprees, and when I'm already engrossed in a fic I'm not going to care how long the chapters are when they come out, but length is definitely a crucial factor in what I'd generally be willing to start reading, on a normal day when I'm maybe briefly bored but have no reason to expect I'm going to have the time or ability to read 100,000 words.

    Similarly, if I'm interested in reading a short one-shot, I'm far likelier to think "Might as well just do it now" than if I'm interested in reading a 100,000-word epic, even if I'm in fact far more interested in the 100,000-word epic, because starting to read the epic would be a major commitment, whereas reading the one-shot is only going to take a matter of minutes.

    In other words, it's not that long chapters are worse if you do start to read it, but they are a hindrance when it comes to reserving time for reading something.
  6. LizardonX

    LizardonX Banned



    It depends on the content really, when I start reading a new story on FF I usually check the ratio of reviews/favs/follow to the length and if the ratio is good then I pop in and take a gander. But usually I'm just in and out of 500 word drabbles and I take a quick look at massive epics if the review ratio seems good.

    This is coming from a guy who has read the entirety of Latias's journey AND brave new world.
  7. TeamRocketGrunt

    TeamRocketGrunt WobbWobbWobb Wobrudo

    Sometimes, length can be great to go into detail of your story. If you just use it to reminisce about nonsense just to fill a page number goal, then no.
  8. Kutie Pie

    Kutie Pie 桜咲くこの坂を今も上っている

    I do agree that choosing to read lengthy chapters depends on whether the content's interesting or not, but I think it tends to be more of a personal preference than anything. I generally won't read a story unless it's of a certain length because I really like to read. But I will go to the lesser word-counts if I feel like it, which isn't a lot, but it's not rare.

    To me, this doesn't always apply to total word count of a story. Long chapters attract me in the most. Sure, like someone said, it's proof someone spent a lot of time on it, but there are a lot of bad stories out there with long chapters. So even though I really like reading for as long as I can, if the content of the chapter is bland, or I don't like where it's going, I stop reading and go somewhere else--just like every other reader does. Attention span also applies, and a lot of us here have rather short attention spans, especially if we're looking for something specific and want it now.

    Stories--fiction and fan fiction--are like TV channels. If I don't like what I see or am not entertained in the first nanoseconds of a scene, I will go to the next channel. Rinse and repeat until something actually catches my eye longer than three seconds. There's a reason the first chapter is your most important chapter, as it hooks in readers. If it fails to appeal in the first few lines, then you lose a potential reader. And there's nothing wrong with this, even if the hit-count for the first chapter is ridiculously huge compared to the rest of the chapters. You just can't please everyone.

    So for readers, first impressions are rather crucial, and it usually comes in the form of a story's length, chapter(s) or overall.
  9. Psychic

    Psychic Really and truly Staff Member Moderator

    Honestly, I'm somewhat of a lazy reader, so it definitely makes a difference for me.

    Your goal as a writer is to hook a writer immediately. If your story is chaptered, you generally have one or two chapters in which to get them interested. Depending on the reader, they may or may not want/need a long time to decide whether or not they want to stick around. Unfortunately, I'm the type of reader who wants to just get through a chapter asap, and often, just seeing that a chapter is long enough that I'm going to really have to invest in it is enough to make me want to put off reading it.

    The same thing applies to one-shots. As Dragonfree said, I don't want to feel like I have to "commit" to reading something, especially if I don't know how much time I have (because I hate breaking in the middle of a story/chapter, which I feel will inevitably happen).

    Of course, I don't represent your average reader, but if you can take anything away from my response, it's "hook 'em early and hook 'em fast." Length doesn't have to matter if you can catch a reader's attention within the first paragraph - if you can do that, hopefully you can get them to stick around no matter what length you're totting. ;>

  10. lovetheangelshadow

    lovetheangelshadow One heck of a Nobody

    Okay I admit I write very long chapters (usually 15 pages) however when I post them I post them in 2,000ish segments once a week. At my old haunt that was the biggest complaint I got was that my chapters were too long. They liked the story...it was just too long. So yeah I post in short segments semi catering to the readers. Although this doesn't seem to have much of an effect I've noticed as certain short proses are still getting all the spotlight (not here-my old haunt).

    However in book publishing form I keep the original length simply because the story does not work otherwise.

    Althoygh right now people are telling me to break up my first book into smaller books. However due to the way the story is...its very difficult to do. Seriously its only 500 pages approx. It's not that terrible.
  11. jireh the provider

    jireh the provider Video Game Designer

    For me, length just may vary on your amount of writing needed. Another thing to consider would the amount of events and detail you will have to place on your chapter.

    Personally for me, my non pokemon story will have an average amount of 1500 words excluding my prologue. Another factor to consider would be planning your chapters ahead in order for you to compensate with the amount of details you want on your stories. Personally for me, a quick reader is 500 words so amount. Avid readers go about to 1500 to 2000, Dedicated ones go to 3000+ words. For my story's condition I guess the reason why my story did not get any reviews would most likely be either my lack of impression just from my prologue or readers are not THAT catchy with my type of story. you're right, first impressions make a difference. But of course, a story would get much more reviews and attention later for some stories.
  12. Scaldaver

    Scaldaver Limitless

    For the sake of gripping the reader's attention, make the first chapter fairly short as to make them think 'Hmm, I could probably read this quickly,' because, in the real world, one cannot carry the computer around with them and real life factors may disturb the reading of a longer chapter, meaning the reader may come back, look at the massive text left to read and say 'To hell with it' and do something else.

    By all means, after that first chapter you can make the rest as long as, because after the first 'sample' chapter the people who are hooked will read the rest because they'll think it's good.
  13. フェージングのエコー

    フェージングのエコー The Boss of ur Boss

    Reading long chapters doesn't really bother me, but sometimes I have only a little time to read the chapter so it would be better if it was short. If a long chapter is filled with gibberish then it isn't worth reading, but sometimes the long chapters add something to the story. It also depend and the factor if you like the story or not, although I dont know why you would read it if you didn't like it... Quality /=/ Quantity. Qantety could be gomplete gibberish or an amazing piece of literature, and likewise for a small chapter.
  14. Focus Aipom

    Focus Aipom Why so serious?

    Well it's an opinion to be honest. Some people prefer stories with detailed and long chapters in high dept while others prefer it shorter. However in general terms, length doesn't really matter in my opinion. While it's always nice to have an expanded story to keep readers engaged in the story, we also have many short stories which in a way are just as effective in engaging readers as longer stories do. So it could really work in both ways honestly.
  15. SeiyruKazohu

    SeiyruKazohu I can haz poffin?

    It honestly depends for me. I seemed to be more discouraged from finishing a story if I notice that the author has tried to extend the length by adding sometimes unnessisary filler. However, I also do not like to read stories that are shorter in length because the author hasn't extended the story by elaborating on certain plot points. I will usually read a story throughly no matter the length if I can understand the story and it feels engaging. Also if there's not too much filler, that seems to deter me.
  16. jireh the provider

    jireh the provider Video Game Designer

    Okay ... for a beginner ... my personal suggestion would be practicing making a oneshot with the minimum of 1000 words. Its what I did 4 years ago as a rookie in fanfic writing. I'm now in the middle class type of fanfic writer. But it really is hard to have a strong appeal on first chapters. Its still the challenge I'm enhancing to become better.

    These also works as a practice for being an actual writer in the long run
  17. ChloboShoka

    ChloboShoka Writer

    Length doesn't really bother me to be honest, but sometimes it depends on the story. Sometimes when I'm first reading, I have a tendency to read only the first three and the last three chapters of a story if they're very long and then reread it again without skipping anything.
  18. jireh the provider

    jireh the provider Video Game Designer

    Just out of curiosity ... I do notice a pattern the furthe you go to the further chapters, especially the conflict, the climax, and the resolution. The amount of detail must be longer. Is it often true if your readers are dedicated readers? Same goes to casual readers?
  19. JX Valentine

    JX Valentine ██████████

    If you mean that the further you go in a longer work, the more detailed it becomes (or at least the higher the quality), then I think that's more of an effect to a cause than a rule by itself. Think of it like this: the longer you spend working on one project, the more reviews you get. The more reviews you get, the more you learn from those reviews. The more you learn from those reviews, the more your style changes, and the end result is the first chapter will always be inferior in quality to the latest chapter you wrote unless you're constantly editing (and even then, that's not a sure thing). Therefore, you could end up with chapters that are more detailed than the ones that came before them, just because that's what your readers are subtly encouraging you to do.

    So you could say that there's really no rule about being more detailed in later chapters, but you'll probably use more detail in later chapters without even thinking about it. Make sense?

    Not sure I understand your question concerning dedicated versus casual readers, though. Any chance you could rephrase it?
  20. jireh the provider

    jireh the provider Video Game Designer

    Dedicated readers are the types who can read a chapter with a lot of scenarios, details, and words with a lot of quality. (just think of reading one chapter of any harry potter book or The Da Vinci Code book)

    Casual readers are the polar opposite of dedicated readers. Few scenarios (about two to three), and few scenarios, yet it has words with good quality. (Like reading a chapter of any one small Novel book like "Tuesdays with Morrie")

    In my work so far (check by clicking the picture of my signature), I've edited my previous chapters to have more than 1000 words. Most would have 1100 to 1450 words so far. But one of my chapters reached 1600 words (way more than my target. 3 of the arcs of my story have a range of 1100 to 1450 words). It will stay the same on the fourth arc (this is planned from the get go).

    But I am approaching the fifth arc (I'm almost done with chapter 20, aka. chapter 2 of the fourth arc). Does, I don't know how much quality and number of words should I place at the chapters of my fifth arc and beyond. Do you think I should start going for maximium amount of 2000 words one I reached the fifth arc of my Original story (the one at my signature Picture)?

    yet I only got one review. I haven't got any other reviews yet other than other readers will check out my story.

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