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  • Chapter Book Formula

    Posted on March 1st, 2011 jean 2 comments

    So, the other day I was dappling with a new story that I figured was a children’s chapter book. It turns out it wants to be a middle grade novel. But while I was toying with the idea of a chapter book, I thought about how to convey a whole novel in approximately 4,000 words. There must be a formula for children’s books I mused to myself. How else can you quickly and easily keep yourself on track with the story arc and things like establishing characters, setting up conflict, bringing in action, building to the climax, resolution, etc.

    Being a bit of a research nerd (or just plain old nerd if you prefer) I turned to a few chapter books and created a formula. So, if you are thinking of writing a short chapter book, this formula might help you out.

    Here’s what I found:

    Chapter 1: Introduction to backstory, setting and main characters established along with their goal.

    Chapter 2: Introduction of story problem

    Chapter 3-4: Conflict introduced and builds

    Chapter 5: Final build up of conflict leading to story’s climax

    Chapter 6: Resolution

    To come up with this formula, I took three chapter books from the Rainbow Magic series by Daisy Meadows and ran them through the formula wringer (me). In this case, the book reading levels ranged from 4.3 to 4.9. The books are aimed at ages 6-9. Word counts vary from 4059-4254. Pages range from 65-67. 6 Chapters per book. Chapters tend to be about 8-10 pages long.

    There you go. Zero to sixty and back to zero again in sixty pages. How sweet it is. I suppose I could also apply this to middle grade novels, but stretch it out a bit more, taking more time to establish details and deepen the conflict.

    P.S. If you are looking at writing a chapter book, this link with tips might help you out. As well, this site, while a commercial site for teachers, is great for finding the word counts of published books.


    2 responses to “Chapter Book Formula” RSS icon

    • I’ve never thought of writing chapter books – I don’t know much about them, as I’ve taught MG aged and low YA aged kids over the years.

      It seems like such a small space to introduce, develop and resolve the problem. Tight writing most definitely required!

    • There is a lot to do and cover in a short space..sort of like in short stories, I guess!

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