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How to Divide a Work of Fiction Into Chapters


Sometimes it can be difficult after creating a large work of fiction to divide it into chapters. Arrange your chapters into small chunks, for the most part, and you can't go wrong: As a rule, fiction readers prefer short chapters. The actual number of pages in a chapter can be anywhere from 1 to 14 before you risk losing your reader to impatience. Remember that actual page numbers in a chapter are arbitrary. Analyze your audience before you write to determine the type of reader that your book attracts. A reader of historical romance may prefer longer chapters, whereas a reader of detective novels may favor short ones. This article provides you with several strategies to divide your chapters logically.

Scenes

Divide your book into chapters according to the number of settings and end the chapters when the character(s) move to another place or setting. For example, in chapter one/setting one, character(s) are in the kitchen. In chapter two/setting two, move character(s) to garage.

Plot

Divide your novel into chapters by plot development. Have your protagonist murder her cheating husband in the living room; this is chapter one/setting one. Keep her there while she phones the police; this is chapter two/setting one.

Number of pages

Determine the number of pages in your book and then decide on the number of chapters. Divide your book evenly into 40 chapters with 10 pages each if, for example, your novel has 400 pages.

Complete the book first

Write your book without chapters or sections and when you revise the manuscript, put the chapters in at that time. Do this if you write and don't revise or edit until you've written your entire novel.

Section and chapters

Divide your book into sections and determine how many chapters you want for each section; make sure to end scenes and plot developments accordingly.

Study books

Pick up a few of favorite books and study how the book is formatted. Check the page length of chapters and sections. Analyze how the publishers divide and section their books.

The outline

Create a book outline and divide your book into chapters according to the outline. With this method your new chapter is clearly written out in black and white. When the scene and/or plot development is complete, according to your outline, the chapter ends; page length isn't a factor.

About the Author

Juanita King began writing in 1971. She holds a master's degree in written communication and a master's degree in human development with a post-master's degree in counseling from National-Louis University.

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