Chapters

by Marissa
(Ohio)

Question: I know that it doesn't really matter but I'm going to ask any way. How many chapters should be in a novel? Like what between what is usually a good number of chapters?


Answer: It's only the number of words that matter, not the number of chapters.

A good length for a first novel is between 80,000 and 90,000 words. If you are using proper manuscript format, which is about 250 words per page, that would give you roughly 340 pages.

However, this guideline is not rigid. Novels can be anywhere from 50,000 to 110,000 words (not counting epics). Children's and YA novels are often shorter. High fantasy is often longer.

You are free to divide a manuscript into however many chapters you like. Children's books typically have shorter chapters, but there are no fixed rules for adult books.

A good guideline is to make each chapter contain at least one event. Put a chapter break at the resolution of that event, bearing in mind that a good resolution sends the characters in a new direction, raising the reader's curiosity as to what will happen next (so they want to read the next chapter).

If you're concerned at all, get hold of a dozen or so best-selling books in your genre and see how many chapters they have on average. You might count the words as well (add up the words on a typical page and multiple by the number of pages). Then you will at least know if you are really out of line with readers' expectations.

Click here to post comments

Join in and submit your own question/topic! It's easy to do. How? Simply click here to return to Questions About Novel Writing.