Your Book Needs Chapters

Hopefully you already know this. Your book needs chapters. The book I’m currently reading hasn’t had a chapter end or start in the first 50 pages. That’s unacceptable. It reminds me of writing a single paragraph that goes on for multiple pages on a college paper. The person reading it notices and it’s just not right.

I don’t know if this book is going to ultimately have some chapters for me, but if it doesn’t it’ll be the first book I’ve ever read that doesn’t. It feels like I’m reading one giant blob of text. I don’t want to be reading one giant blob of text. Ugh. I don’t even care if you end and start chapters at terrible points in the story, but please at least do it. A book without chapters is a book almost unreadable to me.

Have you ever read a book without chapters?

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48 thoughts on “Your Book Needs Chapters

  1. No, and I like them too, sometimes I need them, as an excuse to put a good book down, you know, “I’ll stop at the next chapter, and go sleep, promise!”, to hubby, when the light is still on, past midnight, and he can’t sleep cos I’m not sleeping!

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  2. That would be almost unbearable. Something to add to the list of pet peeves. I have read books with super duper long chapters and that’s ALMOST as bad. But at least they were there.

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  3. Nope! I don’t have the attention span for that sort of thing. You definitely need chapters for a break in the text.

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  4. No,I have not. Now it makes me want to know what book are you reading?

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  5. Yes I have. Stephen King’s “Dolores Claiborne” doesn’t have any chapters… and you’re right, it’s very odd to read because it feels like there’s no end. It’s like being on a highway with no exits. It’s just one long road that dissipates into the horizon with no sign posts telling you where you can rest and breathe.

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    • Well I’m already one of the two people in the world who hasn’t read any of his work, and now I know which book to avoid once I get around to it. Ha! You made the perfect comparison for reading without chapters. Very nice.

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  6. NO. But now I’m wondering about it. I personally like short chapters. It keeps me reading. I check and go: Oh! Look. It’s just 10 more pages… That happens for the next 4 – 5 chapters… No chapters seems intimidating.

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    • I do that whenever I’m reading late night right before bed. Since I already stay up til about three each night, I can’t just keep reading forever and ever. I personally dislike chapter longer than about 25 pages in length but I HATE no chapters at all.

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  7. Ok, are you reading a Discworld novel because almost all of them have no chapters! Haha but hey, millions around the world have read it and managed. I guess it depends what story it’s telling. 🙂

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  8. I don’t wish to jump on the Sir Terryevangelist bandwagon, but … No, he doesn’t have chapters as such, but he does have regular section breaks, where he swaps from the main story to subplots, or between different groups of characters. He doesn’t just have one big block of text, honest. And his scenes are rarely very long – definitely within the 10 – 15 page ish limit.
    And he does make up for that minor irritation with some great, rollicking stories, adventure, death and Death, the Death of Rats, Swamp Dragons, Golems, six foot tall dwarves … They’re wry, funny books, very smart, using humour and fantasy to take a sidelong, snarky look at our own world.
    Plug over.
    I agree with you about chapters. In the book I’m writing, I’ve aimed for 15 or so pages max per chapter, largely because that feels a comfortable amount to me as a reader – so glad to hear you agree!
    How do you feel about long books? I don’t know why, but for some reason if a book is 1000 pages plus it can put me off reading it. Nearly didn’t read Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell because of this, though I did in the end and loved it .Same with Game of Thrones – they’re all just too huge.
    But… I don’t know why it puts me off. I always have a book on the go, so what difference does it make if it’s three of 300 odd pages or one of 1000?
    I can’t answer my own question 🙂

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  9. Reading Cormac McCarthy’s, The Road, was the worst thing ever. I never realized how important chapter breaks were until I read that book.

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  10. WHAT?!?! Who the heck would read a book without chapters? I’d walk away from that one. I don’t mind long chapters, but there has to be a break of some kind. Unless it’s a kid’s picture book. But that’s an entirely different concept altogether.

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  11. Recently finished Beautiful You by Chuck Palahniuk – took me about 50 pages to realize there were no chapters. Not a terrible book, but can’t say that I would recommend it even if it had chapters…

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    • So did the lack of chapters have any effect on your reading? Or of what you ultimately thought of the book?

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      • The lack of chapters was slightly annoying since I generally stop reading at chapter breaks. It wasn’t a deal breaker since there were plenty of line breaks where a chapter might have gone. The book itself could have been good, but felt phoned-in by the end of it.

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      • Eh. I think I’ve probably read a few books like that. The author just didn’t seem to have the desire to write the whole thing as well as they should have.

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  12. That’s strange that there’s fiction books without chapters–maybe the author was trying to be different. I wouldn’t prefer reading a book without chapters, especially since I tend to want to continue reading to see what happens next. I guess I would have to force myself to create some imaginary stop and end points throughout the book 🙂

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