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This is for fiction literature. I've got this story where the original chapters became so huge that I had to split them into 5 chapters each. But each original chapter is relatively distinct and isolated from each other.

So I would like to keep that format somehow, but don't know how to divide the parts. For now I'm using the term "Superchapter". Is there a real format for this? What is it called?

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    You could also utilize some arbitrary word that would be a bit unexpected in this type of usage, such as Stratum 1, 2 etc. or Progression 1, 2 etc. Just an idea. You can probable come up with better variants, as I'm no native,
    – m.a.a.
    Nov 15, 2022 at 22:48

2 Answers 2

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I'm not aware of there being a universal convention about this, as most works don't use that many levels of organisation.

One possibility would be to call them chapters, and the smaller ones subchapters. It's more typical of non-fiction, but with only one subchapter level I have seen it used in an occasional novel, too.

Or you can call the larger parts "Part One, Part Two...", or even use a more poetic term, such as "book". If it fits the mood of the genre, I don't see anything wrong with "superchapter" either.

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The usual approach is to divide the novel into books. You see this in Lord of the Rings, it was broken into six books by the author. The publisher grouped the books into a trilogy. Similarly, the novel Dune by Frank Herbert is broken internally into 3 books — not to be confused with Dune Messiah and Children of Dune, which were sequels to Dune.

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  • To be clear, do all those books have multiple Parts which are divided into Chapters? Sorry I've never read those famous ones.
    – DrZ214
    Nov 7, 2022 at 23:31
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    In LOTR, the books are divided directly into chapters (about ten per book). There's the motto poem, prologue (in four... parts? chapters? it's a long prologue), books 1 to 6 (divided in chapters), and appendices (A to F, I think, and IIRC some of them consist of three or four smaller units as well). The prologue functions more like an introduction on hobbits and the Shire styled like non-fiction; the appendices give more of Tolkien's "research" of Middle-Earth, its languages and history. And Books One to Six actually tell the story.
    – Divizna
    Nov 8, 2022 at 10:16
  • Can't tell you about Dune, as I don't know it either. But in any case, if the structure of your story calls for it, there's no reason why you couldn't divide book/part/chapter, even if you were the first author ever to do this (which I think you won't be even if I can't give you an example).
    – Divizna
    Nov 8, 2022 at 10:28
  • And to oppose a little to what EDL said, I wouldn't say that "books" are the usual approach. They're one of the more common possibilities, but not the only. They appear in old classical epic poems, and then in fantasy, which is inspired by those old classical epic poems and a deliberate allusion. But in more traditional prose of the last three centuries, if there are units larger than chapter, in my experience they're most often called "parts" (and there tends to be a smaller number of them than "books"). If an author is alluding to drama structure, they might call them "acts" instead.
    – Divizna
    Nov 8, 2022 at 11:04
  • @Divizna Thanks but I'm getting confused between physical book and "book" the internal division. Are you saying each physical book of LotR has 6 internal divisions called "books"? And yes I favor Part over "Book". To me, if you go chapter (3-7k words) to part (40k words)...if you then go to "book" (200k words?), you are already getting too big for one physical book. However, if your chapters are much smaller like 2-3k words, but your parts are still pretty big like 40 to 50k words, then that really calls for an intermediate division but idk what.
    – DrZ214
    Nov 8, 2022 at 13:10

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