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Writing Books/ballpark, how many chapters are in a fantasy novel


writing a book is not my problem. cutting it into chapters and how long to make them, is what i need help on. thank you for your time
         pamela busby


When you were in school, did you ever have a teacher who assigned a paper for homework, and when a student invariably asked how long it needed to be, the reply was, "However long it takes you to cover the subject"?

Well, that's my answer to you.

There's no real guideline for how many chapters a book should have, or how long they need to be.  I had a professor in college try to convince me once that a chapter should be about 40 pages.  But anyone who looks at a variety of books will see this is baloney.

A chapter ends when the particular bit of the story you're dealing with is sufficiently addressed.  If that seems arbitrary to you, I'd suggest you pick up a novel and read it, and pay attention to where the chapter breaks are, and why the author chose to put them there.

For example, in my novel WISH YOU WERE HERE, Chapter one begins with the hero's arrival on a world not his own.  It ends at the point where he realizes that the method of his sudden arrival is not going to be so suddenly determined, and that he might be stuck there a while.

Chapter two begins with him taking measures to become acclimated to this alien society.  During the chapter, he meets the girl who is the love interest in the story.  The end of the chapter is after their meeting, and focuses on his attraction to her.

Chapter three begins with him accepting a temporary job as part of the escort team taking tax collections to the local duke.  It ends when the party is attacked and he is injured and falls unconscious.

And so on.  I think you get the idea.  As I said, check out other books.  The reasons why the authors chose specific places to end chapters should be fairly obvious, once you read them, and should help you in developing that intuitive ability yourself.

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Vincent M. Wales


I am a speculative fiction novelist (fantasy, science fiction, and so on). While I may be able to answer questions on non-fiction, my specialty is fiction. Please keep that in mind when asking questions.


For four years, I taught a series of fiction writing classes in Sacramento, CA.

BA in fiction writing.

Awards and Honors
My 2004 novel, ONE NATION UNDER GOD, won BEST FICTION in Fresh Voices 2006, BEST FICTION and BEST YA FICTION in the NCPA Book Awards, and placed as a finalist in BEST BOOKS 2005. In 2002, my novel WISH YOU WERE HERE won awards for Best Fantasy and Best Fiction/Drama in the 8th Annual SPA Awards. My latest work is a trilogy titled THE MANY DEATHS OF DYNAMISTRESS (a superhero memoir). The first book, RECKONING, was released in 2013 and won the SF category in the 2014 San Francisco Book Festival, took second place in the 2013 Royal Dragonfly Book Awards for the SF/Fantasy/Paranormal category, second place in the SF category of the 2013 Reader Views Reviewers Choice Awards, and was finalist in Foreword's 2013 Book of the Year Awards, Fantasy category. The second book, REDEMPTION, will be released in early 2015 and the final book, RENAISSANCE, is scheduled for release in late 2016.

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