Word Count

Question For a novel-length chapter, what should my word-count be roughly? I ask because all books are formatted differently in terms of pages per chapter and word count per page. I'd like to make sure that my chapter would "add up". I'm guessing between 4000-5000 words?


Answer: If your chapters are novel length, you are writing waaaaay too many words.

Seriously, you are quite correct that chapter length varies according to each author's style and also audience (children's books have shorter chapters than adult books). Sometimes publishers have rigid rules for certain lines, but that's the exception.

Generally, don't worry about chapter length. Insert chapter breaks when the breaks feel natural, such as when you change points of view or when one event finishes or there is a jump in time and location.

As long as your chapters are a good read, it doesn't matter much how long they are. Also, it's perfectly fine if your chapter length varies. Sometimes you only need a short chapter to do the job. Other times, such as a very important event in the story, you may need a longer chapter.

That said, 5,000 words would be a perfectly acceptable average. It's just that few things in life are average.

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