Sunday, August 15, 2010

Why I Prefer A Lot of Short Chapters Over A Few Long Chapters

Yes, it's true; I prefer it when the books I read have a lot of short chapters over a few longer ones. I've read a lot of books, so I've begun to notice when some things work better for me than others. I really like it when my books have short chapters. (Like the Maximum Ride series. Each of those books has well over 100 chapters. Crazy!) So I am compiling a list of why and posting about the awesomeness of really short chapters.

  1. It sort of makes you feel like you're making a LOT of progress. Think about it; You're reading a book. You reach chapter 112. WOW! You've read 111 chapters already. SUCH progress! When really, you may only be on page 252 out of 10,000. (Yeah, I know that most YA novels are not 10,000 pages. It's called hyperbole.) Either way, it can help you, a modest reader, feel significantly more accomplished than when you started.
  2. I usually read late at night, right before bed. So, when I'm really into, a really great book, I really don't want to put it down. Really. So, when I finish a chapter, but I don't want to stop, but I'm tired and I know I should stop, I check to see how long the next chapter is: if it's pretty short, I'll read it! If it ends up being 25 or 30 pages, I probably won't read it that night. (Unless, I'm only a little bit tired.) So, by reading a book with smaller chapters, I can read "more" than if the chapters were longer.
  3. I like to break up my reading at chapters. If I know I have to go do something, like work, I'll try to stop at the end of a chapter. That way, I have a "lean beginning when I'm on break, or when I get home. It's so much easier to do that when the chapters are shorter. If I know I have ten minutes before I have to leave for work, or whatever, and I see that a chapter is two and a half pages, I know I can read that and maybe ANOTHER one! I'm more likely to get an entire chapter (or more) done on my 15 minute break when the chapters are shorter. And when I go back to work I don't feel like I left in the middle of a scene. I may still contemplate the novel and what happens next, but at least I stopped at what the author deemed an acceptable stopping point.
  4. Shorter chapters are more likely to have one or two real scenes or ideas. Longer chapters will cover a lot more content and will make it more difficult to go back and find that amazing passage from chapter 7. You'll have to go through more types of scenes. Smaller chapters will, generally, have one scene. Only one place or trip will take place. In longer chaptered novels, there may be several scenes and different things covered. It may even have several "sections" separated by extra spaces to show shifts in time. (Good stopping points when reading longer chaptered books) In my opinion, those can usually become new chapters. But, sometimes they should not. It's a fine line.
And that, my readers, is the compilation of my thoughts on short chapters. Although, I may come up with some more.

Note: There is NOTHING wrong with long chapters. Sometimes they're fun! They have their place in literature; there's no doubt about it. I just, generally, prefer a lot of short chapters. (Check Maximum Ride if you want to see a lot of short chapters.)


  1. I completely agree! I'm the same way. I read at night usually and if I see the next chapter is short, I'll continue on reading.

    I try to think about that when I'm writing as well! Awesome post!

  2. Aw, thanks! It's nice to hear that people agree with me. Everyone likes that right? :)