Chapter Length: How Long or How Short?

August 12, 2016

Someone asked me, "How long should my chapters be? When you're writing do you worry about length? I'm just afraid to force them to be longer and I'm worried it'll end up being unnecessary filler material."


Well. Here's the thing, there are no hard-and-fast rules on how long or short a chapter needs to be. As the writer your the one in charge of how you tell the story. It could be three pages. It could be 22. It could be 40.


I've always found it easier not to set guidelines for yourself on chapter length. I've always let the content dictate the chapter length, not the other way around. That said I do oddly have habits and because of that my books average 4,000-5,000 words per chapter. Whereas my Fan fictions average about 7,000-8,000 words per chapter.


The way I see it, chapters can be used as a tool. Each chapter in your book tells a mini-story that forwards your overall plot. Chapters should be just long enough to serve a purpose and, once that purpose is served, cut off so a new chapter (or mini-story) can begin.


You can use them to switch a point of view, move the story from one scene to the next, or keep time. I'm currently working on a fan fiction where every chapter is a different day. I've read books where every chapter is a different person perceptive.


And some times I just use chapters to cut off scenes I don't want to continue. Chapters lengths are very custom and can be tailored to however you want them to work for your story. 

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