What is the Best Length for Novel Chapters?
How long are your chapters? How long is long enough or too long?
In his book, Lessons from a Lifetime of Writing: A Novelist Looks at His Craft, action/adventure author, David Morrell (creator of the Rambo character, among others), says he tries to write short chapters, so that a reader can complete one chapter (or structural unit) at one sitting. He bases his ideas on two essays by Edgar Allen Poe, The Philosophy of Composition and The Poetic Principle. Part of this discussion is about pacing, because it’s about keeping the reader’s attention. Morrell says he keeps his structural units small in order to accommodate the reader’s bladder, TV interruptions, phone calls, a neighbor who drops in, etc. Poe’s essay is worth reading, as is Morrell’s chapter on “The Tactics of Structure.”
Of course–a chapter should be as long as it needs to be. But consider shorter chapters which can be read at one sitting.