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Writing Books/Chapter length and pacing


I've been writing a book for about half year now first draft after planning and working on ideas since I was 14 and I have become disheartened and disappointed with what I have written. It might be me being my own worst critic but I find my chapters too short and pacing far too quick. I've tried writing longer but that seems to be a fast track to writers block with me, I lose interest in writing and I seem to be going around in circles rewriting the same chapters over and over again. The book is a cross between a fantasy novel and an action thriller.

So far I've written over 80,000 words and my longest chapters are 2,000 words and my shortest barely a page at a 250 words. Any advice, ideas or help would be great thank you.

Hi, Mark!

When you say you've written 80K words, what does that mean as far as the plot? For a fantasy novel, you probably only need another 10K-15K words to finish up for today's marketplace. In my own 100K books, I vary between 25 and 35 chapters (one was as low as 18 and one as high as 42). In other words, chapters vary in length. They just do, because it comes down to where you're splitting the action.

What motivates you to end a chapter? Are you changing viewpoints of characters, moving in time or place to another point of action, or even ramping up the tension in the middle of an action scene? It might be you're splitting the chapters just right for what you're doing, or it might be a scene break would be a better use of the shift, rather than a chapter break. Do you use scene breaks at all, or just chapter breaks?

Give me a little more information and I might be able to help! :D


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Cathy Clamp


I'm happy to answer questions about any aspect of writing novels, from the beginning kernel of an idea through completion. I can help with writing a query letter and synopsis to an agent or editor. I can explain publishing terminology and acronyms. I can also assist with questions about verifying the credentials of agents/publishers and how to proceed once you've been accepted for publication. I can teach the rules of formatting a manuscript, creating viable plots, characterization and flow in the following genres: romance, science fiction, fantasy, thrillers, suspense, horror, women's fiction, mainstream and mystery.


I'm a USA Today bestselling author of urban fantasy and paranormal romance for Tor/Forge Books. Along with a co-author, I've published fifteen novels (combination of mass market and trade softcover) since 2003, and have contracts for four more books through 2011.

Romance Writers of America, Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America, International Thriller Writers, Western Outdoor Writers, Horror Writers of America.

Tor/Forge Books, Western Reflections Publishing, BenBella Books, Running Press, Wild Child Publishing. Many others.

My educational background is limited to real life experience of publishing novels commercially for the past five years.

Awards and Honors
USA Today bestseller, Waldenbooks Mass Market Paperback Top 20 bestseller, Nielsen BookScan Top 20 bestseller, RT BOOKreviews Career Achievement Award winner, 2009, Book Buyers Best Award for Paranormal, Romantic Times Best Werewolf Novel, Write Touch Readers Award, EVVY Best Historical Chronicle Award, The Lories Best Paranormal. Many others.

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