The Perfect Chapter

A question I see quite often on writers’ forums is that of the perfect chapter, or to be more exact, the question of what the perfect chapter looks like. To be honest, it’s one that has been bothering me a lot lately. Nobody seems to have the actual answer to this question, as it is very personal for both the writer and the reader, but I’ve found the ones below to be used most often.
Some say a chapter should read like a short novel; it should contain a beginning, a middle and an ending, including a climax. This works if your novel contains lots of long chapters. In this case, the entire story would be in perfect harmony – even better if every scene is built up the same way. However, I am not so sure about this technique. Do readers really want to read these novel-like sections? In a way, it takes away the anticipation of the next chapter, especially if the chapter ending is rounded off perfectly.
Some say a chapter should be nothing but a scene. It does not have to contain an actual build-up – it could start right in the action, in medias res, although the same goes for novels. This one seems to be the most useful in action-packed novels, which require a steady pace and the readers’ anticipation of what is going to happen next. I personally prefer this one, as it is not as demanding and longwinded as the first idea. However, the concept of longivity is relative in this case.
Some say a chapter should be long, as not to disrupt the novel’s flow and pace. This goes hand in hand with the novel-like chapter; it can be a nice read, but the writer needs to keep in mind that it could become tiresome for the reader not to have a break in there. I don’t see this one often in adventure-packed novels, but I may be mistaken.
Some say a chapter should be short, compressed and not contain any unnecessary information, in order to force the reader to keep reading and anticipating the next chapter. This may or may not work, though, as chapter breaks have several possible outcomes. While they allow the reader some breathing space, they may also cause the audience to stop reading then and there – just because they can. In that case, the writing probably is not interesting enough to grasp the reader’s attention, and the chapter may need to be longer to be interesting. Many chapter breaks also may cause the novel to appear overly simplistic or annoying to read. However, I still believe this is a great technique in order to keep the readers’ attention, as long as the writer actually knows what they are doing.
There are many answers to the question as to which is the perfect chapter. The only actual answer I can give is that the writer needs to figure out for themselves what works for them. Only they know their flaws and strengths, and only they know how to present their story in the most interesting way. The opinions above, whether they are valuable or not are just what they are: opinions.

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