How many scenes and settings per chapter?

How many scenes and settings per chapter? 

I'm in the middle of editing a novel for the Quaraun series, and was putting some of the chapters up online, because fans had requested I do so, and as I was doing so this random question was floating around in my brain:

How many scenes and settings per chapter? 

The question was inspired by the fact that readers had asked me to post the chapters online to read. I used to do this years ago. Back when I was writing and publishing on, you'd see me every week or 2 or 3 times a week, write the next scene and post it, completely unedited, exactly as it came out of my head.

Okay, so, if you've followed me since my days back in the 1990s, you know that I have never written an 'actual' chapter in my life.

And if you've only just recently started reading my work, specifically if you are reading the sample "chapters" on my site here, you will no doubt by now have noticed that every one of these 'chapters" has a heading on it which states:

(No clue what chapter it is, it's anyone's guess; I did not chapter this novel, yet. You are seeing the pre-publication draft edition of it here, which is not yet edited. The published print edition may be different.)

Unless this is the first page of my site you've visited (if so, Welcome!) you have likely seen this notice as it is on several hundred pages of my site.

If you are a regular reader from years ago, you know how I write, but the rest of you may be wondering about this notice and why it is there. Which is what I was thinking about today, as I put up some new chapters for my readers to read.

You have to understand that when I started writing the Quaraun series, I never intended it to be mass market published as paperback novels available in books stores, like it is today.

Forty years ago in 1978, I wasn't even a teenager yet when I started writing it. I was a kid in school, who had a kindergarten teacher that went; "OMG! WOW! This kid can write, we gotta publish this!" It was a 16 page story story called "Friends Are Forever" about a talking cat from outer space, investigating a haunted house.

I wrote it, during class, because the teacher was teaching the A-B-Cs to the class, and I at 5 years old had made the comment: "Why am I here with these retarded babies who don't know how to read or write?"

Mrs. Bureau, didn't know what to do. She was a Kindergarten teacher. The only thing she knew how to do was teach 5 year olds the alphabet and count numbers...things I had already been doing since age 3. Her solution to the problem was to hand me a stack of books to read: Charlotte's Web, The Rats of NIMH, and the BFG. Three days later I had finished all three of them and started Treasure Island. After finishing Treasure Island, she had no more books for me to read, and so, she handed me a stack of paper and pencil and said: "Go write a book, just get out of my hair, I have a class to teach."

And four hours later, that same  kindergarten teacher was going; "OMG! WOW! This kid can write, we gotta publish this!"

Thus how my very short story: Friends Are Forever, got published in 1978.

I was taken out of school at 8 years old, because I was reading and writing at a high school level and the teachers concluded there was nothing left they could teach me, yet I was too young to attend high school. 

And by that point, at 8 years old, had already published more than a dozen short stories in various magazines.

I received my first college degree at age 16. In Dressmaking & Theatrical Costume Design. Intending to go immediately into a career in fashion design for costumes for theatres with my end goal being that I wanted to design the Las Vegas Feather Dancer style costumes worn by the Ice Capettes for The Ice Capades. (which explains my over the top CosPlays that I am also known for.) However, this did not happen, as instead of designing costumes for other people's plays, I started writing plays and designing the costumes for my own characters.

As a teenager, when most children were in school, I already had a thriving career as a published short story writer and stage script playwright.

In the 40 years since, I've published more than 2,000 short stories.

A lot of people seem to go into writing, with the goal of writing a novel. I'm constantly getting asked by newbie writers, my advice and they always say some line or paragraph about how they have the dream of writing a novel. So many have an end goal of publishing a novel but I never did.

One of the very popular questions that I get asked over and over again is: How many scenes and settings per chapter? 

I look at that question every time I get it and multiple thoughts go through my brain:

  • Do they know who I am?
  • Have they ever read my work?
  • Are they aware I've never written a novel?
  • Do they know that the books of mine which are labeled as "novels" are in fact sets of short stories that have been arranged in order, so they could be read like a novel, even though they are not in fact novels?
  • How am I supposed to know how many scenes and settings there are per chapter, when I myself have never written a chapter in my entire life?

I am of the belief, that if you are going to ask an author their advice on writing, you should at least have read the author's work so you know whether or not they write the type of thing you are asking about. I mean, doesn't that seem logical.

I never know how to answer this question because I do not write novel. I write short stories and stage plays, which later get compiled into novelized editions.

And so, here I am now, taking 40 years of short stories, 2,000 of them, compiling them into novelized editions for the upcoming 40th anniversary, and I'm trying to figure out:

How the heck many scenes and settings are there supposed to be per chapter? 

And for those interested in them, the chapters that I had just put up, that inspired this question are these:

So, I've been looking around at various novels I have read and you know what? I can't find a common thread to give an answer with.

Some authors have chapters that are 2 or 3 pages long. Others have chapters that are always exactly 10 pages long. Some have chapters that are 20 to 30 pages long. There are some that have no rhyme nor reason to it and have a 1 page chapter followed by a 30 page chapter then a 7 page chapter.

As for scenes, I've seen some that each chapter is only 1 scene and other that have 5 or more scene changes per chapter.

Who is right? Who is wrong?

I don't know.

So what is it that I do? How do I solve this problem in my own books? What is my solution?

My solution is to have no actual chapters in my books at all, and to continue writing as I always have. Writing a short story, that consists of one single, solitary scene. Only this and nothing more. In the novel editions each scene/story ends with:


Which acts as a stopping point for the reader. They can stop reading here like they've come to the end of the chapter, or they can continue on.

And so in the end, my novels have no actual real chapters at all and are strings of scenes that flow along in order.

Are there multiple settings in each? No. Each scene is always in one place. And as I write Slice of Life, that means often the entire novel takes place in one very small space of time (an hour or less) in one room.

I don't do the big epic scenery and settings sort of thing.

You can see an example of both the scene change *chapter end?) and a setting change happening at the same time here...

This sample is 3 connecting chapters from the book GhoulSpawn and The Lich Lord's Lover.

In the first sample chapter, we see main character Quaraun and his friends Unicorn and GhoulSpawn trapped in a dungeon/prison cell about to be tortured, but half way through the chapter, a portal opens and spits them out in the middle of a swamp. So this is an instance of a chapter with 2 different settings.

That chapter ends with them still in the swamp.

The ~o0o~ appears to alert the reader that the chapter has ended and a new scene opens, with the trio now having spent several days wandering through the forest until they came to the sheep farm of an ancient wizard whom they had been looking for.

In this chapter you see briefly the forest and the outside of the sheep farm, but then the rest of the scene takes place in the front parlour of the old wizard's house. This chapter ends with them leaving the house, but the reader does not follow them outside and instead stays to hear the old wizard's last words to them.

The ~o0o~ appears yet again and this next chapter opens with the three of them, several hours later as it is now night time, sitting around their campfire, deciding what they will do the next morning.

Thus you see that each chapter is it's own scene and the setting flows around the scene in question, with the chapter starting and ending with each scene, and the setting changing each time the scene changes. (Note that this was a section of about 40 pages of the novel, and I've only included here the opening and ending scenes of each chapter, and not the middle pages of them, for sake of space and reading time.

Harrier stayed by the door to Unicorn and GhoulSpawn's cell, staring at Unicorn and seemed to have no interest in anything else. He grasped his talon clawed hands on the bars and glared at Unicorn with a look so full of hate.

Are you coming?” the doctor asked the Phooka.

I do not approve of your work, Cheecka, you know that.” Harrier never took his eyes off Unicorn as he spoke. “Besides. I've no interest in the Flamite. The Lich is the one who started the Plague. He's the key to stopping it and finding a cure.”

We don't know that that is the Plague Lich.”

It is the Plague Lich.”

How do you know?”

I can smell it in his blood. This is Antaras.”

How can you be sure just on that?”

Harrier slowly looked up at the doctor. Cheecka cringed as the beast's solid black eyes made contact with his.

I know my own blood. My family is cursed. We are things that should never have been born. Born of death, made life. He is dead and yet he lives.”

Harrier looked back at Unicorn.

You have your history. We have ours. You fear the wrong king. Do what you're going to do, but leave me out of it. I want no part of you barbarianism. As long as the Gremlin is with them you're foolishness is doomed to fail. He has more power then you give him credit for.”

We have the Grand High Emperor...”

You have nothing.”

Harrier stood at the cell, his claws gripping the bars. His soulless eyes staring into GhoulSpawn’s frightened yellow eyes.”

I’ve seen this day a thousand times.”

You’re foolish, Harrier.”

You are. No matter how many times you kill him, the Gremlin is always going to reset time. I've been to a thousand pasts and a thousand futures. I've travelled with The Gremlin himself, I helped him build that machine, and I know you have nothing.”

Harrier turned back to Cheecka.

You don't capture him here and your foolishness now will make things worse. You've told him too much already. You should have sent him back to Black Tower the moment you knew who he was. Instead you babel on telling him more and more. You are writing this future which you claim you do not want.”

***(several pages of this chapter are removed for this sample, to jump to the end of the chapter)***

The doctor removed the object and was about to do the same thing to the Elf's other eye, when GhoulSpawn started begging them to stop, forgetting he was still holding the Necromancer's wand. Instantly a portal opened up in the ceiling and the three of them vanished leaving the doctors to wonder where they had gone. The last thing they heard was Harrier saying to the others: “I told you. You fools!”

Quaraun, Unicorn, and GhoulSpawn now found themselves in a swamp.

I'm wet,” Quaraun complained as he stood up. “I'm soaked! And I'm muddy!”

What did I do?” GhoulSpawn asked as he spun around in circles trying to determine where they were and how they got there.

You wove my wand around while you were talking,” Quaraun said, taking the wand out of GhoulSpawn's hand. “Apparently a bit a too powerful for you. You seem to attract portals to you. Maybe we don't have to find Black Tower to get home.”

What kind of a wand opens portals?”

This one. It's done it before, though I don't seem to be able to control it. I don’t know how it does it.”

I thought you said it unlocked Faery Iron.”

It does a lot of things. Mostly it grows flowers. And turns things pink. I used it to paint a palace pink once.”

Why pink?”

I like pink.”

What is it with you and pink? Where are we now?”

I don't know.”

Quaraun looked to Unicorn. He was still dazed from the Faery Iron, but the chains were gone and he'd soon recover.

Are you alright?” Quaraun asked the Phooka, who had not gotten up yet.

I am weak. It drained me. I is so very weak. I need time to recover. As do ya.”


Yis bleeding.”

Quaraun put his hand over his eye, then pulled a mirror out of his bag. Blood was running down the side of his nose, from the corner of his eye.

Why am I not feeling that?”

No brain left in ya head? Did dey just try to kill the Thullid in ya?”

***(several pages of this chapter are removed for this sample, to jump to the end of the chapter)***

 “Does we know yet what ya did to make them do this thing to yas?” Unicorn asked.

Ongadada. Whatever that is. They said it was a place. A place where I killed a lot of people and changed the world and made this world happen. I think, we need to get back home and then make sure, I never go to a place called Ongadada. We need to make sure this future never happens.”


Days passed in a blur as the trio made the long trek back south in search of The Gremlin. Following the directions provided to them by the saloon girl, they were able to locate Luke Swanzen’s old sheep farm, which the aged Gremlin had moved into.

The old house was in disrepair. Around it was many acres off wooden fences, surrounding many hundreds of sheep contentedly grazing.

My god,” Quaraun exclaimed. “Look at all the sheep!”

Dis definitely where our Ghouly live,“ Unicorn said.

They knocked at the door.

The old orange robed wizard answered the door.

Quaraun?” The Gremlin was astonished to see them. “What are you doing here?”

We don’t know.”

“You don't know? How typical of you, Quaraun. Do you ever know where you are or how you got there? Well, you might as well come in, now that you’ve found me.”

Someone behind Gremlin ran from the room, scurrying up the stairs. A door slammed somewhere on the 2nd floor.

Is there someone else here?”

That was Sunta. He lives with me.”

Sunta? You don’t live alone?”

I used to. Not any more.”

Who is Sunta?”

He’s, uhm... he’s... a friend.”

You sound uncertain.”

I’m uncertain if I should introduce you to him. He’s... shy? Shy’s a good word.”

You sound like you’re lying.”

So what else is new? I’m still a thief too.”

And you still have sheep.”

Ever so many sheep.”

Is it just you and Sunta here?”


Are you happy together?”

Why the questions, Quaraun? You jealous?”

When we saw you before. You were extremely sad. And very lonely. It made me unhappy that you were alone.”

Well, I’m not alone now.”

Are you lovers?”

Gremlin was silent a moment before responding.

What an odd question. You are jealous. I know you too well, Quaraun. We are. Sunta and I are lovers. But I don't think you'll ever meet him. Sunta is... apprehensive.”

Undoubtedly, considering he ran away when we entered.”

We don’t receive visitors often. It’s been years, and... he was severely mutilated. His injuries... he's scarred very badly. You understand what it is to be disfigured. He doesn’t want people to look at him. His face... He can’t talk.”

He is mute?”

Something like that. They cut out his tongue.”

“That's cruel. How do you communicate?”'

It seems irrelevant since you didn't know of his existence five minutes ago. I’m a Thullid. Remember? We have no need of tongues for speech.”

The hive mind. Do you have that now?”

Yes. And so does he.”

He is a Thullid as well?”

Gremlin nodded.

I expect we are the last two Thullids left alive. Humans mass massacred the Thullids.”

Gremlin made his way to the stairs.

Sunta,” he called up. “Come down. It’s Unicorn. You’ll like to see Unicorn. I know you would.”

Gremlin waited a moment, then returned to the others.

I don’t think he’ll come down. He’s easily frightened. Like a little jackrabbit.”

You always called me that.”

Well, not many people out there with foot long ears, is there? Rather unique feature of yours. Does it upset you, I call someone else a jackrabbit?”

Quaraun ignored the question.

Does he know Unicorn?”

Gremlin nodded, then sat down in his red armchair.

You still have that chair.”

Yes, and in the garage, you'll find I still have the 1974 AMC Gremlin. I'm a creature of habit. I don't like change.”

You're also a hermit who doesn't go outside other than to rewrite your future by disrupting your past.”

Gremlin glanced over at GhoulSpawn.

And I'm disrupting your life GhoulSpawn?”

Quaraun didn't give GhoulSpawn a chance to answer.

How did you find someone to live with you? I was of the impression, you were absolutely, completely, and insanely obsessed with me? I wouldn't think you would even consider making time for anyone else.”

I don't. I'm still obsessed with you Quaraun. That hasn't changed. It never will. I do love you. That was never a lie. I still do.”

But I died.”

You died. You both died. You and Unicorn. And I was left alone.”

You went to the ends of the world to change history and try to bring me back.”

I did.”

And now you live with someone else?”

You didn’t come here to talk about Sunta. Why are you here? What do you want?”

To go home.”

Home. I remember home. I suppose I should remember being here with you, visiting me. It is my past after all.”

Do you remember coming here?”

Sunta?” Gremlin called upstairs again. “Do we remember visiting us?”

Gremlin waited for an answer but got none.

No. We don’t recall visiting us. But we had a lobotomy. More than once. We don’t remember much any more. Either of us. Me or Sunta. Poor Sunta. They tortured him.”

Who did?”

White Rock. He was in White Rock as well. We both were. He’s alive. But after what they did to him... I’m not sure that’s a good thing.”

Would you like tea? I will make us some tea.”

Gremlin got up and disappeared through a side door, returning moments later.

Water is on the stove.”

***(several pages of this chapter are removed for this sample, to jump to the end of the chapter)***

Why should I believe you?”

I can show you, your father. He lives with Roderic. You’ll need to go there to get HellBorne’s book. Roderic has it.”

Erasing their memories... that feels wrong.”

They love you. They’ll kill me, when you die, if you don’t.”

They won’t remember loving me.”

They loved you once. They’ll love you again.”


Later that night, Quaraun, Unicorn, and GhoulSpawn were sitting beside a campfire, deciding what to do next.

He said we don’t need Black Tower to use the portals at Black Tower,” GhoulSpawn said.

Aye,” Unicorn replied. “But does ya not need de books what was in Black Tower to open de portals?”


Can’t you just open the portals?” Quaraun asked.


Gremlin does.”

Yeah, well, I’m sorry I’m not a thousand year old psychopath yet. I’m 19 and I’ve never done that way before.”

At some point you learn to. Perhaps that’s now?”

Yeah, and at some point I lose my freaking mind. Perhaps that’s now too?”

Ghouly what’s wrong?”


Yes. Something. You’re upset. Did I do something to upset you?”


Then what’s wrong?”


Did he say something? After we left? It was quite some time before you came out.”

He said a lot of crazy stuff.”

What did he say that upset you?”

I don’t want to talk about it.”

Then we should talk about how we’re going to get back home.”


GhoulSpawn stood up and ran away from Quaraun. Then he paced back and forth along the road for a while, pulling branches off trees and throwing them.

Quaraun watch the teenager for a few minutes before getting up and walking up to him.

Ghouly? You okay?”

I’m fine.”

I wasn’t trying to start an argument with you.”

I know. I’m sorry.”

Come back and sit down with us. Please.”

GhoulSpawn once again joined Quaraun and Unicorn by the fire.

What would happen if we didn’t go back?” GhoulSpawn asked.

I don’t we could live out of our correct time forever. It’d start to effect us. Why do ask?”

~From "GhoulSpawn and the Lich Lord's Lover" (Volume 22 of The Quaraun Series)

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