How much do agents care about the length of chapters?
I've read many times that most of 'rules' don't matter as long as the writing is good, BUT, as any writer trying to find her place under the stars, it's my job to obsess over any/every little detail that will get me to procrastinating. :D
Jokes aside, I personally love short chapters that are packed with action and keep me going through them without breathing. Dan Brown executes them very well, but he is already established in the publishing industry.
Since I aim to get traditionally published, I wanted to know whether the length of chapters plays a role with agents and/or publishers?
And I'm talking short, not long. :)
James Patterson has elevated short chapters to an art form, and a he's hauling a lot of cash to the bank these days.
There is no one answer to this because like a lot of things about writing: it depends.
If you're writing a high octane, page turning thriller, short chapters are a good tool for keeping up the momentum.
If you're writing atmospheric character driven suspense novels, you don't want people on the edge of their seats, you want them reading more slowly and building dread.
So, it all depends on what you're writing.
I don't count words in chapters when I'm considering a book for my list.
It's only if I feel whiplashed, or as if I'm inside a pinball machine, that I go back and assess whether the chapters are too short.
If you want an example of a writer who uses long/short chapters to great effect in the same book, check out Dana Haynes' Fiero and Finnigan series, starting with St. Nicholas Salvage and Wrecking. Yes, I sold those books so this is not a truly objective recommendation.
This is place beta readers can be of help. But be careful what you ask. Not "are the chapters too short?" Rather: did you get confused? Did you feel rushed? Ask how they feel about the book, not what needs to be fixed.
Any (short or long!) questions?