What is the point of chapters in a novel? ?
Can you just not have them in a novel? As someone that is writing, how do you know when chapter starts or ends?
- Anonymous1 month agoFavourite answer
People rarely read a book from start to finish in one sitting. Chapters are simply a way of dividing the work into 'episodes' and for a lot of books that was how they were published - which is often why they end like cliffhangers (see something like Bleak House or The Old Curiosity Shop by Dickens). Someone like Terry Pratchett famously didn't use chapters for his Discworld series, so they are entirely optional; someone like Kate Atkinson used them to shift the action between times, with interludes between in eg Behind the Scenes at the Museum..
- DaveLv 51 month ago
It's called a plot transition. The attention turns from one character or scene to another.
- GBLv 51 month ago
Try reading a short novel to see how chapters work.
- MarliLv 71 month ago
1. It is reader friendly. Most people can't read a novel at one sitting. Chapters (usually) break the text into manageable sections.
2. Chapters and scene breaks make shifting locations or viewpoints or time progression easier. One chapter could end in New York on Friday and the next chapter begin the following Tuesday in Philadelphia. That cuts out the unnecessary description of the journey that would slow the pace of the story. If your story has multiple viewpoint characters or sub-plots, separate chapters help the reader move from John finding the treasure on the island to Mary fighting the pirates on the ship.
Some chapters or scenes are, like paragraphs, written to covey information or a change in mood or pace. For instance, the grouchy porter scene in Macbeth. He plods to the gate and fumbles with the key, rambling on about 'equivocation' after the high tension scene of the Macbeths murder of King Duncan. The "knock, knock knock" keeps us keyed up because we know what the people the porter will let in are about to discover; but the pacing is slow and the porter is comic. His scene is a "breathing space" of calm, dull everyday life before the shouts of horror and high words about Murder and Desecration of the Lord's Anointed Temple.
If you are writing your first draft, you could write one long narrative (no chapters ) and read it over after you have typed "The End". Then you will see how chapter breaks are useful in long stories such as novels. When you revise that draft, you can break and manipulate it into chapters suitable for telling the story in the way you think is the best way.
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- SpeedLv 71 month ago
While there exist novels lacking chapters or even scene breaks, they're less reader-friendly than the ones that use them.
As a writer, I tend to break for a new chapter either when the location changes or when time has elapsed. Over the years, I've gotten better about ending chapters with a sentence or two that makes the reader want to continue--not every chapter, and not just empty teases, but something that sparks interest the way the opening sentence does.
- ElaineLv 71 month ago
While there are a few novels without chapters chapters are like paragraphs expressing a complete thought.
- Zac ZLv 71 month ago
Stephen King's "Dolores Claiborne" doesn't have any chapters. Or blank lines providing breaks between sections. It's a novel length monologue by the eponymous Dolores at a police station talking about how and (more importantly) why she killed her husband.
That sounds like a recipe for disaster, and in the hand of an amateur writer it would be, but King pulls it off excellently.
But as a reader, even though I love that novel, I'm happy that most novels do have chapters or other breaks in the narrative. It allows for natural points to put the book aside and continue another time to give just one pragmatic reason.
As for how you know when a chapter starts or ends, well the start is easy: it starts after the previous chapter ended! :-p
OK, seriously, there are no rules how long or short chapters have to be. It depends somewhat on the genre; thrillers for example tend to have shorter chapters to keep a brisk pace.
But I've seen it all. Anything from a chapter being a single word ("The Eyes of the Dragon", also by Stephen King) to just one or two chapters or even, as mentioned above, no chapters at all.
Books targeted at younger audiences tend to have shorter chapters (maybe to account for a shorter attention span, I'm guessing).
But in books for adults chapters might range from two or three pages to 50 or a 100 pages (or even more, although this is kind of rare).
It makes sense to have a formal break when the story changes locations or its PoV narrator. Otherwise, chapters often contain a narrative unit and a new chapter will start when a new unit begins. What constitutes a unit will vary.
I suggest to read through a couple of different books, consciously choose books of different genres, from different times, for different audiences, etc. and pay attention when the writers choose to have their chapters end. (And how you feel about it as a reader.)
That way you'll get a feeling of when you want to start a new chapter as writer.
Lastly, I suppose that you might just intuitively know as a writer that it's time to have a new chapter start. But even if you don't or you change your mind, you can always change the chapter structure of your tale. I wouldn't lose sleep over that before you're polishing your first draft.
Anyway, good luck!
- LomaxLv 41 month ago
The short answer is that it is rare for anyone to read a book in a single sitting, which means that they appreciate clear breaks where they can leave off in order to return later.
As for when a chapter should or should not end - that's up to the writer. Some break their work down into a large number of short chapters, some prefer a small number of long chapters. Neither approach is right or wrong. Some of the latter break chapters down into sub-chapters.
Nor are chapters the only divisions. Some authors divide their novels into Books or Parts - with each book/part broken down into chapters.
I have, only my bookshelf, books with 20,000-word chapters, books with one sentence chapters, books with one word chapters, a book in which two successive chapters each consist of a blank page, a novel that starts, "Book One; Part One; Chapter 1; 1" (though I think the author was doing it as a joke), and 450-page novels that have no chapter breaks at all.
And, of course, there's the question of whether you should give each chapter a title. Some authors do, some don't, some only do sometimes.
So - as an author, pick the approach that feels best to you.
- deniseLv 71 month ago
Their like 'scenes' in a play and parts in a tv drama.
Its like a natural break in the story, when you can say ' 2 days later' for example, before carrying on with the story.
- Anonymous1 month ago
I don't know....................