How Long Should the Chapters in My Novel Be?
If there’s one thing that new writers often get wrong, it’s word counts. They are so caught up in writing the stories that they are telling that they tend to overlook the importance of length.
However, length is one of the most important elements of a novel. In fact, most literary agents and publishers say that it is one of the most important elements. Of course, you want to have amazing characters, a compelling and unforgettable plot line, and an incredible title; however, even if you have all of these elements, if you miss the mark on length, there’s a very good chance that your book isn’t going to be as successful as you hope.
Why? – Because length plays a big part in holding the attention of the audience. If it’s too long, your readers are really going to have a tough time getting through to the end (in fact, they may not pick it up at all!); if it’s too short, your readers will be left scratching their heads and feel like your book didn’t meet their expectations.
To avoid making your novel flop, it’s really important to pay close attention to your word counts. The total word count will depend on the type of book you are writing. For example, a safe range for young adult novels is anywhere between 55,000 and 80,000 words, while adult fiction books can be as long as 100,000 words.
The audience you are trying to appeal to plays a big part in how long your book should be in terms of word count. As a general rule of thumb, the younger your audience is, the shorter your word count should be.
With that said, word count for the entire book isn’t the only thing you should be focusing on; you should also pay attention to the amount of words each chapter contains. But how can you do that?
Well, the truth is, there’s no tried and true length for your chapters. It really depends on your specific topic. Some chapters may be long, while others may be short; and still, some novels may feature chapters that have the same word length throughout.
But What About Length?
If the above explanation doesn’t answer your question and you’re really looking for solid numbers to follow in regard to chapter length, here’s what literary agents and publishers recommend:
If you’re book is about 80,000 words, try to aim for chapters that are around 2,000 words each. That’s just the right amount to read and digest in a single sitting. Many people read a chapter in one sitting, and 2,000 words seems to be the magic number for a single sitting. If your chapters are significantly longer, your readers may end up skimming through the pages to get to the end of the chapter, which means that they won’t really digest what you’ve written. If you’re planning on having imbalanced chapters, a good suggestion is to feature a shorter chapter and follow it with one that is longer. For instance, maybe one chapter is 700 words and the next is 1,300. Your readers will breeze through the shorter chapter and still be able to finish the longer one without it feeling too cumbersome.