Chapter Lengths

Recently, I began to wonder about chapters, and how big they should be. I know that there is not proper limit for the amount of words you should write, but I’m still curious. I asked about this a while back, all the way back in March, and one commenter said the usual average word count for chapters was around the 3,000 word mark. Since then, I’ve always aimed for that.

Anyway, as I said, I recently began to ponder this again, and did some research. The answers all varied, but many sites did say around 2,000 – 3,000 words/chapter. Of course, this all depends on the genre you write. Fantasy, as I read, can be larger, around the 5,000 mark, while YA and MG are shorter, around 1,000.

Personally, I prefer shorter chapters, as I like to finish reading at the end of chapters. I cant stand reading chapters that stretch on for pages, it gets to the point where I skim over the words, trying to reach the end.

What about you? How large do you aim for your chapters to be? Or do you just write, not worrying about the size? And as a reader, do you have a preference for long/short chapters?


3 Responses to Chapter Lengths

  1. Anna says:

    I have to find the reference in On Writing about chapter lengths, but Stephen King suggests that the writing shape the length of the chapter rather than the author trying to hit a certain word count before wrapping up the chapter. I think I replied similarly to your Twitter question.

    If you think of chapters as scenes then that could dictate the length. I’ve read books with chapters that are a paragraph long to several pages long.

    My chapters are usually about 1500-3000 words long. I got into a bad habit of writing for a word count instead of writing for the story, which meant my chapters were sometimes a little unwieldy or cluttered.

  2. Anna: I try to aim for 3000 words, so that I can ensure I don’t rush through the chapter. If a chapter is bigger than 3000 words by a lot, I’ll perhaps try to cut the chapter in half, while if the chapter is too small, I’ll add it to another chapter.
    Thanks for your comment!

  3. SaintAsh says:

    As a reader, I usually disregard chapters entirely when it comes to picking a place to stop. I just try to get as much in before something pulls me away. 😀

    As a writer, I generally shoot for 3K a chapter, because I’ve often found that when I write chapters of 1K or less, things become too threadbare or feel rushed.

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