Archive for category General

Length: Scene, Chapter, Novel

I’ve been working on my writing recently. For me, that means going over my outlines and setting things up for narrative. It got me thinking about writing and length goals. Here’s my run down of my research and some thoughts.

taken from blog indiewire

Novel Lengths:

Writers Digest Bree Ogden Literary Rejection Writers Workshop
Adult Novel 80-100k 70-115
Sci-fi 100-115k 100-115 90-125
MG 20-55k 30-40 25-40
YA 55-70k 55-90 50-80 50-70
Picture Books 32 pages 500-600 words 500-700 words 500-700 words
Western 50-80k
Memoir 80-90k 70-110 70-100
Commercial/womens 80-110 75-120
Crime 90-100 75-130
Mysteries 70-90
Romance 40-100
Fantasy 90-100 180-200
Paranormal 75-95
Horror 80-100
Historical 100-120
NA 60-85

What I learned:

  • There are no exact numbers. 80-85k feels like a pretty standard number for adult novels. Sci-fi and fantasy runs longer. YA runs shorter.
  • Although there are notable exceptions outside the norms, they are exceptions and not the standard way to break into writing.

Chapter Lengths:

All Write Karen Woodward Advanced Writing Better Novel Project
General 2500 640-1000 5000 3500-4500
Romance 3000
Thrillers 600-800

What I learned:

  • Chapters are not consistent
  • Beginning chapters tend to be longer because they have more set up but even then they vary
  • Varying chapter lengths helps build the pace and tension in a novel.
  • One website indicated that a chapter is roughly 2-3 scenes long. Another says that a chapter is a location change. A third indicates that it is a natural breath in the action of the novel. There doesn’t seem to be any specific guidance for finding a standard break.

Scene Lengths:

The Write Practice Writer’s Digest Be Kind Rewrite
Scene 750 2-15 pages 300-1300

What I learned:

  • Like scenes, there is a significant variance in the scene lengths.
  • Writer’s Digest relied on Make A Scene by Rosenfeld. I enjoyed Make A Scene but the page reference felt less useful than the word suggestions offered by the other websites.
  • Advice I really liked from Make A Scene is that scenes should vary widely throughout a novel. Shorter ones tend to speed up the pace. They condense the action. They allow character reactions and a breath. Longer scenes allow for full dialogues, more complex action, and changes in unique scenery.

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Brandon Sanderson 321 Lecture

I have been working my way through Brandon Sanderson’s 321 Lectures shared on youtube from his class at BYU.

I have been thoroughly enjoying them and thought I would share with the group.

Brandon Sanderson 321 Lecture Playlist on youtube

I think this started with the 2013 summer class when a student recorded the lectures for some other project he was working on. The syllabus for that year’s class can be found here. It doesn’t quite line up with the newer series of videos, but I thought it was nice to have.

Writing About Dragons 2013 Summer Class

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