Discussion in 'All Things LitRPG' started by James G Patton, Aug 27, 2017.
I would, but I can't.
Maybe there is a causality somewhere there
(no, I probably wouldn't )
And to say something relevant, I just explained how my chapters & scenes are organised in my book in another topic the other day:
"I could say the chapters are usually the "settings", or significant parts of the story.
Chapter 1 is Yang's first day in the game, chapter 2 is his first actual quest/adventure. The scenes are used for two things: to switch between ingame and rl parts, but also, to switch between the scenes in the game, e.g. when he finds a ruined tavern in the ancient ruins in the second chapter, I start a new scene for that, and end it when he leaves the place.
This is why chapter 1 has short scenes; there are frequent changes in the scenery, and lots of jumping in and out of the game."
My chapters are big, 9-22k words currently. There are 10 chapters planned for the whole book. These are the "Chapter 1: Challenged" kind of parts. Inside each chapter I have 5-12 scenes, each between 500 and 2500 words. These are separated by
* * *
in the book.
Well I'm a guy who loves loads and loads of chapters, and about seven years ago on FanFiction.Net I tried practicing using an "episodic quartet" format. Because I never got any feedback, I could never quite understand if it worked or not. Not to mention that it was designed with FFN's chapter format in mind (by extension, most multichapter online fiction sites).
I wanted to make sure chapters didn't run on and on because this was one of those stories that was basically structured sort of like a TV series (hence the usage of the term 'episodic') and was inevitably going to have potentially 1,000,000+ words. In fact, it was definitely going to have more than that as I already got to about 120k words before giving up on the story (and I was absolutely nowhere near done), so since I wanted to keep things under one link, splitting these lengthy chapters up seemed like the best option.
In praxi, every "episode" was 4 chapters. In reality, those "episodes" were actually chapters; though I had to accommodate for chapter beginnings and endings as per usual, the endings of the smaller chapters (1, 2, and 3) were not "hard" endings per se. They might leave off on a cliffhanger that's soon resolved in the next chapter, but that was only because they were meant to be more or less breaks rather than actual chapter endings.
For example: let's say I have an episode called "In The Land of the Blind."
As a result, you'd see
In the Land of the Blind I
In the Land of the Blind II
In the Land of the Blind III
In the Land of the Blind IV
The smaller chapters had names, but they weren't given in the chapter selection screen. Each ranged from 800 to 5k words— very rarely did chapters have one of those two extremes, so I'd say the word average for chapters was around 1,500 to 2,500 words, with most episodes ranging from 6,000 to 10,000 words.
I haven't worked with this format in some time, partially because I haven't been writing much before roughly last year and the stories I've been writing didn't need such a format. It's really a good option when you have a more episodic style story, almost as if you're writing a TV show in prose (again, hence the usage of the term 'episodes'). This is a great way to create short arcs within a larger story.
I mention it here because when I first heard about LitRPG and discovered that it was basically "play an MMO, log your experiences, convert that to prose, and then sell the result for $4.99", I thought that this would be the perfect style. I was actually a bit confused for a while when I kept reading LitRPGs that played out like a more traditional sci-fi/fantasy work because it's my understanding that MMORPGs are more about your own personal adventure rather than you being the Chosen One and saving the world. And because of that, the episodic structure seems like it would work for things like questing and guild creation. The overarching novel could be about you slaying the dragon/interstellar pirate/Giygas-expy, but theoretically you would get 'Nice job, now get on my level scrub' by about 500 different assholes and then you'd move on to your next adventure arc.
But since that's not how most LitRPGs play out, I figured it'd just be a neat little meme to leave around in case others wanted to use it. And that's "meme" in the classical sense, not the lolcat or dank sense.
I'm crazy enough to do it to myself maybe. Heh.
I think like everything, you need to optimize your tools to fit the material. Fast paced action and adventure benefits from short and sweet chapters. Meanwhile, epic fantasy benefits more from long chapters that help pace the narrative and give it scope and scale and the feeling of ages past. When you're creating an immersive world, it is always worth remembering that chapter numbers don't belong in it and as such, if you're trying to construct an epic high fantasy world, short chapters can often make you come unstuck unless you do something to mitigate that. At least in my opinion...
OK heres the really important thing for me infact the only thing that makes me care about chapter length at all if your book shifts viewpoints make short chapters and make them switch every chapter I cant tell you how annoying it is to have a character you hate get an hour (audiobook) of having a chapter and then one you love or one with a ton of suspense get like 5-15 minutes with another hour chapter after that although I guess this really isnt a chapter length thing more of a viewpoint thing but either way its so annoying
Edit: this is probably because i read mostly audiobooks where most of the time i dont notice the chapter change
Yes. I publish everything in KU nowadays.
This is actually a really interesting conversation. I've been wondering about that. I tend to go for "natural breaks" as well when I write, but also try not to get the chapters going too long. I feel like really, really long chapters tend to either overwhelm or bore a reader in a lot of cases. Obviously it can work, but a lot of the times, it feels like those really long chapters would do better broken into smaller parts. At least to me.