1. RusticBohemian
    Offline

    RusticBohemian New Member

    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2012
    Messages:
    2
    Likes Received:
    0

    How Many Words In A Decent Fiction Chapter?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by RusticBohemian, Feb 26, 2012.

    I realize there won't be hard and fast rules for this, and that that there are plenty of examples of really short and really long chapters.

    But I'm trying to gauge how long is too long for a fiction chapter.

    Any idea what a reasonable range in terms of number of words for a chapter?

    Thanks.
     
  2. Yoshiko
    Offline

    Yoshiko Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 14, 2009
    Messages:
    758
    Likes Received:
    27
    As many as there needs to be.

    There is no "reasonable range". Just write it.
     
  3. TheWritingWriter
    Offline

    TheWritingWriter Senior Member

    Joined:
    Oct 16, 2011
    Messages:
    106
    Likes Received:
    1
    Location:
    A little to the left
    Don't focus on word counts. Just write. Also, don't worry about chapters in a first draft. It's really not important. Write the story, and then break everything up when you have a first draft finished.
     
  4. Mallory
    Offline

    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 27, 2010
    Messages:
    4,274
    Likes Received:
    191
    Location:
    Tampa Bay
    I always just break up chapters after each major scene, or after 2-3 smaller scenes. Mine are usually around 10-15 pages, but it varies for everyone.
     
  5. RusticBohemian
    Offline

    RusticBohemian New Member

    Joined:
    Feb 26, 2012
    Messages:
    2
    Likes Received:
    0
    The reason I wonder is because the chapter I'm writing handles a two chronologically-linear events. I'm close to wrapping up the first of those and it's about 3,500 words, and I estimate. that the second will tack on 2-4k more.

    It would equally be fine to break the chapter into two halves or leave it together, and I'm just wondering if a reader would prefer the break of switching to another POV narrator chapter between the sections.

     
  6. Nakhti
    Offline

    Nakhti Banned

    Joined:
    Feb 22, 2012
    Messages:
    400
    Likes Received:
    16
    3500 words for a chapter is fine. 5500 words is fine. 10,000 words is fine. As long as your chapter starts and ends in a logical place, any word count is ok.
     
  7. minstrel
    Offline

    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2010
    Messages:
    8,724
    Likes Received:
    4,821
    Location:
    Near Los Angeles
    Chapters, schmapters. The number of words doesn't matter. Look at published novels by good writers. Sometimes you find really short chapters (Dan Brown - sometimes less than 100 words), and sometimes you find chapters of 10,000 words or more. My own chapters tend to be long - I love creating a huge atmosphere and a huge scene. But pacing is an issue, and if you want things to just pop pop pop, maybe shorter chapters are better for you.

    Find what works for you and go with it.
     
  8. Mallory
    Offline

    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

    Joined:
    Jun 27, 2010
    Messages:
    4,274
    Likes Received:
    191
    Location:
    Tampa Bay
    5,500 words is a totally fine length for a chapter. That's probably like 23 pages double-spaced.

    Maybe a section break would be good, but only if there's a good spot to put one in. Don't force awkward breaks that don't fit.
     
  9. mammamaia
    Offline

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2006
    Messages:
    19,316
    Likes Received:
    1,014
    Location:
    Coquille, Oregon
    as noted by most above, it's useless to even ask this question, because there is no answer... make your chapters as long as they need to be, period!... if you get a publisher and your editor thinks they're too long or too short, then is the time you need to consider a change, not now...
     
  10. Erato
    Offline

    Erato Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Feb 23, 2012
    Messages:
    294
    Likes Received:
    8
    Location:
    A place called home
    I don't like to do chapters... I realize they're the norm, but I find them awkward in my own writing, breaking up the action. When the action needs a break I put a line break, and leave it at that. Between my line breaks tends to be pretty long.
     
  11. mammamaia
    Offline

    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 21, 2006
    Messages:
    19,316
    Likes Received:
    1,014
    Location:
    Coquille, Oregon
    that'll be very reader-unfriendly for most, erato...

    and i doubt any agent or publisher will take on your ms in that form, so you're seriously hampering your chances to get it published, by going so far astray from accepted book structure...
     

Share This Page