1. Nervous1st
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    Nervous1st Senior Member

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    Chapter length

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Nervous1st, Apr 18, 2009.

    Hi everyone,

    Sorry, I have another question. I would just like to know the average word length of your chapters. I know there are no ‘rules’ but as this is my first novel, I just need a vague guideline. I particularly don’t want to go into the review room and post the first chapter, only to annoy everyone with its length or lack thereof.

    My first chapter is around 5,000 words. Is this normal?

    As always, I appreciate your help!
     
  2. lynneandlynn
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    lynneandlynn Contributing Member

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    I think 5,000 is fine for a chapter...I say the length of a chapter doesn't really matter as long as it all fits within that part of the story.

    ~Lynn
     
  3. architectus
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    architectus Banned

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    I imagine each chapter being a short story with a beginning, middle, and ending. However long it takes to tell that short story is how long the chapter should be.

    However, I can focus on writing a 100 word short, 1,000 word short, 2,000, and so on.

    For my YA novel, most of my chapters are 2000 because I wanted it quick paced. For my sci-fi they ranged fro 2,000-5,000. For my romance I shoot for 3,000. The first chapter is 6,000.
     
  4. Rei
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    Rei Contributing Member Contributor

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    A 5,000-word post on the internet would probably turn a lot of people off reading it, but in book form, it's just fine, though I wouldn't go much longer than that myself. There are two factors to consider here. What does your story need in terms of things like pace, and how details each scene needs to be, and the demands of your audience. Age plays a factor in it, of course. Publishers don't want to reply soully on the few kids who do have the patience and skill for the longer, more challenging, stuff. The type of people you would expect to read it is also a factor. So just think about the type of people who would probably be interested in your work.
     
  5. OneMoreNameless
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    OneMoreNameless Contributing Member

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    Splitting the chapters at appropriate breaks (or cliffhangers, if it's dramatic writing) in the story is probably more important than length, but yeah five thousand words is fine. You might want shorter or longer chapters if the story is particularly short or long ... Maybe it's just me, but reading a novel with fifty tiny chapters is kind of annoying.
     
  6. PS Foster
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    PS Foster Member

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    In his book "Heart-Shaped Box", Joe Hill has some chapters - near the end- that are only one or two sentences.
     
  7. crimsonrose
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    crimsonrose Senior Member

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    I was wondering this same question. :)

    My chapters tend to be the same. The shortest I ever go is 3k, and I go back and add more detail later to expand upon it. My average chapter length is 5k, and the longest is 8k.
     
  8. OneMoreNameless
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    OneMoreNameless Contributing Member

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    If it was only a couple of chapters done like that for specific effect, they'd be fine. But if every chapter was only a thousand words long a book would be very abrupt and hard to get into, I think.

    The average chapter length in my last novel was around 10k each, but in retrospect I had a problem with writing everything too long. (I ended up with 17 chapters and my original goal was 80-100k words total, so yeah.)
     
  9. RIPPA MATE
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    RIPPA MATE Contributing Member

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  10. Nervous1st
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    Nervous1st Senior Member

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    Thanks for the replies!

    Although I really should have done a search on the subject before posting as this has been asked quiet a lot. :rolleyes:
     
  11. RomanticRose
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    RomanticRose Active Member

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    Mini skirt rule applies to sentences, chapters, short stories, novellas, novels, series, and anything else.

    A chapter (since that is the unit of words in question here) should be like a miniskirt. Long enough to cover the essentials, but short enough to maintain the interest.
     
  12. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    james patterson writes 2-3 page chapters and clancy often writes near book-length ones... they're both best-selling authors!

    so, don't ask about what's 'right'/'ok'/'normal'... or even 'average'... go only by what works for each one of your novels... let the content tell you how long each chapter will be... and they don't all have to be the same, or even nearly the same length...

    a chapter should end when what comes next is in a different time/place, or when another character's doings are going to be dealt with... not when you get to some arbitrary number of words...
     

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