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Writing Books/Chapters in a book


When should I begin a new chapter in my book?  What determines a chapter?

Dear Cordelia,

Good editors will often "re-chapter" your set chapters, because they have a professional understanding of the importance of how a book "flows," but generally, you should start a new chapter when you come to a kind of "pause" or "break" in the story.

It's really more of an instinctive thing; there are no hard-and-fast rules regarding when to begin or end a chapter -- I usually end a chapter when I want to move to another day, another scene, or pick up dialogue that I had left off earlier, a few chapters back.

It's almost like literally telling the story, as if you were speaking: you know when to pause, add reflection, and stop when you're talking to someone, describing something, etc., and the same kind of thing applies to written communication.

Again, it's a matter of instinct more than anything, really. One chapter can be two pages, and the next can be fifteen. It's not really as measured-out as it may seem.

Hope that helps, and thanks for writing!

All Best,
Catherine Van Herrin

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Catherine Van Herrin


I am an American-born, native English speaker with a BA in English and more than 26 years of professional editing, writing, and proofreading experience. I have edited several books and book-length manuscripts. References and titles available upon request.

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