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Is it appropriate to use chapter breaks in works shorter than novel-length? I feel as though the text requires breakpoints peridocially, and if it were a novel, I'd place chapter breaks there, but in a shorter work (!25k words), I'm not sure whether that's appropriate. If not, what should I use?

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Just pick up a novel and look how many chapters are used till the book reaches 25k words. A few, I guess, and they all make these 25k words more readable. – John Smithers Oct 27 '11 at 20:18
up vote 9 down vote accepted

It is absolutely acceptable. If your story requires a shift in scenes, for example, it would be totally appropriate to indicate that with some form of break. Whether you identify this by using extra space, an image, or any other means is ultimately a matter of personal preference. The main point is that you are using a common device to let your reader know that you are making some sort of shift in your story.

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Yes, chapters are appropriate for the most part. If you're writing genre fiction, your editor will almost certainly separate into chapters if you don't, anyway--readers often rely on them.

If you're not writing genre fiction, of course, you can do whatever the heck you like :) but what is important to keep in mind is that novellas are notoriously hard to structure, and chapters (or purely separating into three parts--beginning, middle and end) can aid your construction.

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I was unaware that genre pieces were more conservative in this regard. Any suggestions where I can learn more about this? I just finished chapterizing a YA fantasy novel, but would love to learn more about this. – Neil Fein Feb 15 '12 at 17:00

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