Chapter Length

Question: My chapters are coming up a bit short. I've been told the average chapter is around 5000 words. I know I shouldn't worry too much about the length of my chapters or my word count, but I'd really like to get an idea of how long my novel will be. As I only have 19 chapters planned, I don't want my word count to fall too short. Can you help me?

Answer: I suggest you finish the first draft without any thought as to word count or chapter length. Just write the story that feels right to you in the way it wants to be written. Who cares how long the average chapter is? Very few chapters can be called average anyway, just like no average person exists in the real world. Average is just a statistical way to fudge the answer. Focus on making each chapter the right length to express that portion of the story in the way that carries the greatest emotional and intellectual impact.

Once you're done that first draft you'll know the word count. After you've set the manuscript aside for a time, you can go back and revise. That's when you can see if there are issues you haven't fully explored, ideas you want to develop more, or irrelevant sections that need to be cut.

In the end, it's better to have a really solid book that's 65,000 words than a 100,000 word book full of unnecessary verbiage.

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