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Some of my favorite Frank Herbert books go 70 pages between chapters. All the James Patterson books go 2-3 pages between chapters.

I know non=fiction uses chapters to help navigate, which means chapters are dictated by the related content. What are the purposes of having extremely short chapters? Does it actually do anything for the overall reading experience?

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A single very short chapter - like half a page - thrown between normal, long chapters carries immense impact and weight. If you want to give a short event a special frame of importance, give it such minimal chapter. But then, that's not what you're asking here... –  SF. Apr 25 '13 at 23:27

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up vote 11 down vote accepted

Using lots of very short chapters creates an impression in the reader of very rapid pace and lots of movement. For some genres (such as Patterson's thrillers), this accelerated pace is exactly the effect that you want.

Having long chapters creates the opposite effect: it slows the pace down and gives the author time to expand more fully a given section or theme. This doesn't preclude fast-paced action, but it does allow for more breathing space and a sense of epic scope.

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