Re: RARA-AVIS: Chapters

From: Patrick King (
Date: 03 Jul 2008

  • Next message: Patrick King: "Re: RARA-AVIS: Re: Chapters"

    --- On Wed, 7/2/08, <> wrote:

    I'm a big advocate of chapters. Ever try to read Moll Flanders? One long slog, IMO. Chapters leave handy places to stop reading, break up the narrative into cohesive sections, and help create reference points as one Avian pointed out. I've read books with 12 chapters and equally-long books with 50 chapters. I've read chapters of 50 words or less, and some that were as sprawling as Texas. Each worked for me in the context of the novel. If someone wants to get cute and literary and eschew chapters (as well as punctuation, capitals, paragraphs, etc.), be my guest. I won't read it.


    While, as I've stated, I more or less agree with you, I must say that when I hear there's a new Elmore Leonard book out my first reaction is not: "Hey, wait a minute; are there chapters in this book?" A great story will sustain the most self-conscious author however silly his style or book structure may be. On the other hand, no amount of literary tricks can turn a poor story into a good book. The most self-conscious writers I can think of are James Joyce and William Faulkner. Their books are still read and taught not because of the peculiar way they structured sentences etc, but because of what they have to say. If you encounter a great book without chapters, I can't believe you won't read it just because it doesn't meet your preconceived notions of a book.

    Patrick King


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