I'm getting interested in the evolutionary purpose of chapters, and so this article about the reasons not to "binge-watch" TV shows struck me as relevant.
A chapter or an episode is a unit itself, and there is meaning resulting from the very existence of a beginning and end. The pause for the reader or viewer before the next one starts creates a different experience than we'd have if we had no break at all. There's a moment (or a week, for TV) of contemplation, of recovery, of return to reality. And there's also the choice to plunge back into the fictive world.
I am guilty myself of exactly what the article author mentioned. I watched all of S4 of Breaking Bad the other night when I couldn't sleep. And I remember very little of it. It was like eating a meal in twenty minutes. It all tasted good when I was stuffing it in my mouth, but the appetizer and the entree and the dessert are all jumbled up in my memory (and stomach).
I'm thinking about this because I was noticing how common it's become in books for a chapter to start on the same page the last chapter ended (I mean, no page break between chapters). This is especially weird in ebooks, where paper costs are not relevant. I realize I like that little break, and am not sure why it's been determined to be expendable.
I remember a friend told me that she never put in chapters in the first draft. I do-- I just "know" when it's time for a new chapter.
Kerouac's On the Road manuscript is on display, btw, at my local art museum. It was typed on one long roll of paper. (Pay no attention to the donor of this interesting exhibit, who will always be known in our town as The &^$% Who Released Peyton Manning.)
Anyway, I'm wondering how you know when you're writing that it's time to start a new chapter. Scenes are organically determined-- one time, one place, more or less, and they end when they end. But chapter divisions are somewhat arbitrary. A chapter might be three scenes or two or one, depending. Depending on what? What decides for you where to start a new chapter?