Are my chapters too long?

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Are my chapters too long?

Postby Sunshine Temple » Wed Sep 29, 2010 10:09 pm

FF.net is down for me right now.

Comment on the latest chapter of AiTDW

So I'll reproduce the post here.

From: Bree R. ( http://www.fanfiction.net/u/1701616/ )
Reply URL: http://login.fanfiction.net/review_pm.p ... =112720183
-------------------
I was the person commenting on the work over on the C&C sections at Fukufics
so excuse the rather brief review here:

Very nice work all in all. Intirquing plot elements and story telling is
staying and surpassing it's initial run. It's always interesting to see how
you'll go about corrupting and subverting the Eva cannon and I find it
emminently enjoyable to see the changes. Love Insana, and romance novel
obsessed Rei quite a bit though Rei could use some more scene time.

One problem that I didn't think of on Fukufics that I will state here is I
think length of the story for you is a pretty big issue in terms of
accessibility. You've got a great story and the story moves great i just don't
think a vast majority of people can sit down and read through 30k words in one
sitting and given the issues with picking up where you left off on a site like
this that I'm convinced this hurts your readership. I don't rightly know your
writing style but perhaps somewhat shorter and more broken up chapters (even
if they are released all a once) would be more easily consumed? I know I
would've had issues reading through this full chapter had I not loaded it onto
my ereader and posted comments there before sharing them with you on Fukufics.
It's my opinion that you write novellas not chapters. But as perceived as
posted here and elsewhere each of your novellas lacks clearly marked stopping
points within themselves. Perhaps if you don't wish to change the flow too
much breaking up 'chapters' into actual chapters within a longer post would
alleviate this issue?

Anyway nice story but I eagerly await the return of the sappy formerly human
and thus quasi-cannibalistic Succubus, or even a bit more about a reluctant
fairy queen if that strikes your fancy.


This is a relevant question. Are my chapters too long? I have noticed the feature creep. I originally had a floor of 12k words per chapter. Strained Harmony did not help with it's monstrous chapters. However in that fic the pacing and tone was very different.

It could be that my chapters have grown too large.

Looking at Return this has happened alot fic/
You'll see numerous Part 1 and Part 2. Areas where the original chapter got too big.

Though the split chapter could still be too large.

I guess the question is should I work harder to keep my chapters at between say 12k and 20k?

And if so, should I work to split up this most recent chapter of AiDTW?

Edit: Also shorter chapters would mean they come out faster.

PS: I really appreciate how much people want to read Return again, and as a minor nitpick, she does eat other succubi, so she's still a cannibal ;p
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Re: Are my chapters too long?

Postby Spokavriel » Wed Sep 29, 2010 10:30 pm

I think they are a bit overly long because of web site display issues. I keep my browser window at 640x480 to make it easier to multitask and at that size Fanfiction.net tends to make it so that there is a banner ad shadow from Flash ads. But it doesn't appear on your smaller chapters until about 3/4 of the way through. The only way to clear it is to reload the story. And with alterations to the page loading routine there forcing ads to load before Page content it doesn't always go away any more even with that. Making it so anything under the flash shadow has to be selected copied and pasted outside of page to even be read.

I'm not sure what the actual page length limit in word count should be but I've more or less given up reading your stories there preferring to read them in the story area attached to this domain.
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Re: Are my chapters too long?

Postby Dumbledork » Wed Sep 29, 2010 11:20 pm

Shorter chapters would be better.
And that's the bottom line 'cause Dumbledork said so.

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Re: Are my chapters too long?

Postby frice2000 » Thu Sep 30, 2010 12:28 am

Amazingly I'm going to agree with the genius who posted the review since it'd be kind of odd to disagree with myself...

Anyway, yes the Chapters are long. This isn't a problem in that content is good and even though some authors are more prolific in that they push out more chapters in a given year I think you're more prolific in word counts then any other quality fan fiction author I follow. The problem for me on originally reading through some of your work years ago is that I detest reading lengthy chapters off a computer screen. Ereaders have fixed this problem and now I read most longer stories directly on my Kindle as opposed to sitting at a computer or staring at a backlit iPad screen which I also dislike. In that format your stories are immensely more enjoyable as I can stop for a quick second or an hour or two and be right back to where I left off. Of course most modern browsers have this functionality as well but I find it to fail quite often so I try not to rely on it.

The sole problem then I've come across in using this method to read your stories is that each of your chapters can at times feel like 4 or 5 chapters of what would be a professional novel. A clear delineation would I think serve my reading method well. This is especially the case in regards to the Internet readers. While I can't understand the barbaric practice of reading long segments of text off a backlit LCD screen many seem to find it to not trouble them. To these people i think you'd do them a service if you had some break ups for different chapters within the stories. You've got horizontal lines but in some cases if you'd put something like Chapter 2 there it would serve to making the story far more accessible by letting the reader pick up later easily with a quick and easy textual search using their browsers. Your stories take the better part of at least one or two hours to read through if not more and I'd imagine many people find it hard to make that much of a time dedication to a story all at once. Breaking up the story within itself would help these individuals immensely.

Alternatively, i think an excellent solution I stated in the review was simply releasing multiple smaller chapters at the same time or with a week or less between releases. This again makes your stories far more accessible. I can understand not wanting to artificially inflate your chapter counts but I think this would get you more response and exposure as well as more feedback when you post the story here. It's a lot of work to read through that big segment of text quoting differing areas for a variety of reasons. Eventually one gets tired of doing it and i think this results in less feedback for you as well as less responses for you to cull from.

None of this is to say I think you should be less ambitious with your writing. You shouldn't strive to make the chapters shorter for the sake of faster release times or expendiceny. But I do think you desperately need to separate things out in some fashion to make your work more accessible. One of my ideas or something else is called for. Imagine reading a novel with absolutely no chapter breaks it'd be quite a slog to read as you'd always feel you were in the middle of the narrative and could never quite put it down for a bit.

Please excuse any stunted language or misspelled words the iPad is not a good typing device.

@Spok I know you run an older computer in a lot of cases but no adblocker whatsoever? And I can understand 800x600 but 640x480 man...My monitor won't even try to display that.

Edit:
PS: I really appreciate how much people want to read Return again, and as a minor nitpick, she does eat other succubi, so she's still a cannibal

Oh yeah Ranma did nom one succubus down...But at that point it was a little vague whether or not Ranma was a full succubus since she could regain his original form. After that point though full Succubus before he was kind of both so my statement stands I think...Does make me wonder about traditional succubae funerary practices though.
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Re: Are my chapters too long?

Postby Spokavriel » Thu Sep 30, 2010 1:06 am

I didn't say my screen is that small I said I keep the browser window that small for the sake of multitasking. That way it is less than 1/4 of the screen and it is easier for me to have multiple windows open cross-referencing data in other windows at the same time. Sometimes watching NASA or online news streams as well such as NRAnews.com

Unlike most people I have my own computer and I can leave a story open on a browser tab in the same place for however long I want to before returning. Not everyone has that luxury and someone else with access to the computer could easily make someone lose their place. So I can see some reason to smaller chapters but I think frice is suggesting a bit of overkill. But to each their own.

If it wasn't for that banner shadow I wouldn't have any problem at all.

As to stories I would love to see more of well there's always Generation Lost ;) Still haven't gotten to see other people's reactions to the latest Oneal or all the modifications to templates getting this Sentai team assembled together a bit more uniformly.
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Re: Are my chapters too long?

Postby frice2000 » Thu Sep 30, 2010 1:20 am

Ah good because i can't imagine doing anything at 640x480...Still think you should toss an adblocker on your browser though. You can whitelist sites you want to 'support'. I honestly have times reconciling complaints people have about sites I recommend with them telling me popups and ads suck there since I never see them on my phone, laptop, computer, or iPad thanks to jailbreaks, rooting, or add-on adblockers lol.

Also I can see how my explanations of what i was saying were a little complicated and overkill but it's really simple. Just substitute Chapter 2, 3, 4, etc. Rather then horizontal lines where appropriate when breaking up action and scenes. That alone makes it flow better.
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Re: Are my chapters too long?

Postby Crescent Pulsar R » Thu Sep 30, 2010 1:34 am

Chapters can be used to accommodate your method of writing or your readers, or both. The main problem is that, should someone not finish what they're reading in one sitting, they will need a good place to stop along with a reference point so they don't have trouble searching for it next time they feel like picking up where they left off. Physical books have such things as page numbers, corners that can be folded, and bookmarks.

At the very least, what I suggest is to continue writing in whatever way you're more comfortable with (thus ensuring your productivity), and find appropriate places to mark where someone can break via a Find Word reference (and having them listed at the beginning of the file). Unless, of course, those places end in such a way that starting a new chapter from there makes sense. Whatever works for you.
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Re: Are my chapters too long?

Postby Konsaki » Thu Sep 30, 2010 5:16 am

I personally like long chapters versus short chapters, but I do agree that you seem to be ramping your word count to the high extreme of the spectrum. I would suggest pulling back to around 15k words than the 31k you have for your latest UMG chapter. This would also have the added benefit of cutting down these long dry spells between chapters, not like I'm one to talk about that but... :roll:
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Re: Are my chapters too long?

Postby mondu_the_fat » Thu Sep 30, 2010 6:23 am

I find 15K words to be digestible. 20k, pushing it...

I like reading chapters in one sitting. If a chapter is too long, real life creeps in and I have to do something else before I finish it. By the time I get back from real life its either I've already forgotten that I was reading something, or I want to do something else, or something else has caught my attention. In all three cases, I'll likely only go back to that fic if a new chapter is out, then I'll remember that I hadn't finished the last chapter, but the interval between chapters has been too great and I have to refresh my memory so I have to reread the previous chapter... which is too long to finish in one sitting and so the cycle repeats itself. Eventually I just stop reading the fic.
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Re: Are my chapters too long?

Postby Shanami » Thu Sep 30, 2010 9:29 am

Crescent Pulsar R wrote:Chapters can be used to accommodate your method of writing or your readers, or both. The main problem is that, should someone not finish what they're reading in one sitting, they will need a good place to stop along with a reference point so they don't have trouble searching for it next time they feel like picking up where they left off. Physical books have such things as page numbers, corners that can be folded, and bookmarks.

At the very least, what I suggest is to continue writing in whatever way you're more comfortable with (thus ensuring your productivity), and find appropriate places to mark where someone can break via a Find Word reference (and having them listed at the beginning of the file). Unless, of course, those places end in such a way that starting a new chapter from there makes sense. Whatever works for you.


I would agree with this. While I, like Spok, can easily leave a page open for as long as I want, it would be useful at the very least for you to use numbered scene breaks if you don't feel like splitting up the chapter into smaller pieces. I'd personally favor splitting the chapters into 10-20k segments and just multi-part posting them, bu simply adding some sort of searchable feature would easily suffice.

I actually prefer seeing larger chapters released at once, I happen to like the 30k+ blurbs, but I don't think that most people can digest that much at once and I really doubt that most people read as fast as I do.
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Re: Are my chapters too long?

Postby Ellen Kuhfeld » Thu Sep 30, 2010 11:16 am

When your chapters become novellas, you're in trouble - unless you can make them true novellas, capable of being read ab initio and with a moderately satisfactory beginning, middle, and end. I figure three to eight thousand words is the most comfortable chunk for me to write, and read. That works whether it's a chapter, or a short story. Your mileage may vary.

I'd rather see smaller, more frequent, chapters from you. That way I'd be more in the flow of your story. When waiting months and months, the details of what-has-gone-before start to fade.
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Re: Are my chapters too long?

Postby Cheb » Thu Sep 30, 2010 1:28 pm

I completely agree. 8 Kwords is the reasonable top limit, with 5 Kwords being the ideal.
Any higher than 8K brings continuity problems, with reader unable to swallow the whole uber-chapter in one go and pausing at a random place, not the one you intended them to.
When I see my chapter pushing 8K I start searching for the best place to cut it in two.

One of the reasons I haven't commented on your newest chapter yet is that I couldn't to do it in one go, then I put it aside and now it just sits there in one of Firefox tabs, forgotten for days :(

I mean, you could still keep your release schedule, just upload your story already diced to reasonable chunks. I, for once, was known for releasing my stories in two-chapter bursts. :mrgreen:
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Re: Are my chapters too long?

Postby Sunshine Temple » Thu Sep 30, 2010 4:13 pm

Wow. Too many responses to actually reply to them all.

I found a good spot to split AiTDW ch8 in half.

I'll re-upload as ch8 and 9.

Thanks for all the thoughts. I can see the size getting overwhelming. Fortunately this doesn't change much content wise. Since I tend to write the stories fluidly and cut off when I feel I have a good chapter arc.

This means I'll try to make the cut in a more manageable location.
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Re: Are my chapters too long?

Postby Undeen » Fri Oct 01, 2010 12:22 pm

Wow, I have to say reading through the responses to this surprised me a bit as I personally like the longer chapters far more than shorter ones. I will freely admit that Sunshine's chapters tend to be the longest I find, but I've always liked that fact, thankfully most people seem inclined to say stick to the 12-20k range and I've no problems with that. I expect we'll see even more part 1, part 2, etc chapters in the future.

I did note at least one person saying 5 - 8k chapters. Brr. I read stories with chapters that short, but I'll always prefer my chapters to be at Least 10k+. Then again, I have my own computer to keep up a browser with my latest story open and I am more likely to have to reboot my wireless connection between chapters rather than have my browser fail.

Well anyway I'm off to read the new chapter. Chapters now, I suppose. As happy as I am to see an update for any of your works Sunshine (you are one of my favorite authors) I'm hoping we'll be seeing an update to The Return before the new year.
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Re: Are my chapters too long?

Postby WG_Writer » Sat Oct 02, 2010 10:52 am

I think many writters have their own way to count legnth. I tend to use a standard formating that looks good on my screen and write 9-10 pages in word, which word seems to report as 4k words, ff.net counts that different, and a higher number so meh there. Truely its up to the specific reader and author as to what the legnth should be but I haven't heard much in the way of complaints, if any that I recall.
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