Roughly, how many words in a chapter of a novel?

I”m writing a novel and I’m wondering

How many words in a chapter of a novel?

I have rougly 2 500

would that be enough?

5 Answers

  1. I basically agree with ‘mizpriz30’.

    The length depends primarily on two things.

    First it depends on the projected audience.

    A book for children may have very few words per chapter, and if you are writing for the academic /college or scientific communities, there could be 10,000 if you cared to.

    The Second idea, however, is what she mentioned. Break your chapters where they seem to break naturally, according to the story. You may not actually break the chapters on a cliff-hanger. That depends on the genre, but you can end it at a “scene break”. That means where the location, the point of view or the plot changes. (such as the introduction or conclusion of sub-plots)

    There are a lot of famous writers who write shorter chapters in the 2000 to 2500 word range, while some (myself included) tend to ramble on and generally find my chapters range between 4000 and 6000 (when shooting for a medium range of 5000.)

    I can tell you that it is generally better from the readers point of view if you keep the chapters fairly consistent in length. That does not mean that every chapter must be exactly the same length. It is good, not mandatory, if they are ‘similar’ in number of pages. Number of pages can vary a lot with the same identical word count, by the way. You can write 2,500 words of narrative and have, say, 9 pages, while you might write 2,500 words of dialog and character interaction (conversations & quotes) and have 15 pages. So, that is another thing to consider. Again, this is not a hard rule, only a suggestion or guideline.

    Bottom Line: There are no hard rules that say a chapter must be a certain length.

  2. 2,500 is a good number. I’m writing a book as well, I have the chapters as, 2,500 words or more. Nothing less.

    It also depends on how many chapters. I’m doing about as many chapters there is in the Hunger games or Divergent or The Young World… But as Daniel said, your book can be as small or as big as you want it to be. Its the world that you have created, it starts when you want it to start and it ends when you want it to end. Let your imagination fly


    I would worry more about the feel of the chapter, and how fluidly the events are described. When I was younger and reading, the thing i hated most about reading was the over describing of some things, with feet and inches and… blech.

  4. That depends on the book and the author. I just finished writing my first book, and my chapters tend to run long. There are 28 chapters in my book. I’m currently reading a book whose author favors shorter chapters – there are about 80 chapters in his book. Generally you want to end one in a cliffhanger or something that makes readers want to turn the page to the next chapter.

    2500 is a good length. Mine average between about there to up to 5000 words. During my rewrite, I’ve noticed I’m removing 300 to 500 words anyway.

    Basically, there is no set rule to how many words have to be in a chapter. You just end one where it seems to naturally end, and start on the next one. If, however, they run TOO long, then you need to divide it somewhere – I’ve done that a few times.

    Oh, and I’m adding that if you don’t have an outline, make one now! This will help you sooo much. I outlined my book and then divided all the scenes into chapters, so I knew before I’d finished the book how many chapters it would have. That varied though: I started out with 32 chapters planned, then the number went down and up, depending on whether I could combine a chapter into another one (didn’t happen often) or divide one that was too long. Once or twice I even deleted an unnecessary chapter once the story had evolved.

    Add: Thank you, Daniel, that was nice of you. I gave you a thumbs up. 🙂

  5. it ll depend on how many chapters you plan to have

Relevant information

Now that we’ve covered how many words are in a novel, it’s time to break it down even further by finding out the ideal number of chapters in a novel and how many words are used in a typical chapter.

Depending on the writing genre, word count in book chapters can vary considerably.

As previously discussed, there are different requirements for both fiction and non-fiction genres. Since there are varying ranges when it comes to the number of words in a novel (depending on the genre) it’s also expected that novel chapters would have no stringent rules when it comes to word count.

What is the purpose of having chapters in your novel? According to NY Book Editors, chapters (also called chapter breaks) give your reader “a mental respite” and “allow the reader to digest everything that’s happened within that section.”

So why is chapter length so important? Reedsy, a publishing platform, encourages keeping chapter length reasonable in order to sustain your reader’s interest and prevent information overload. It also helps you set the pace of your story and create suspense as you deem necessary.

A sensible chapter length gives room to build up suspense—yet, it should end the chapter precisely at that point when your reader needs a breather to process the events which ensued in that part of your story.

It is important to end a chapter with a gripping thought—one that would compel your reader to get back into the story after taking a little break.

Of course, there are distinctions between writing chapters for fiction and non-fiction. We’ve broken them down here for easy reference.

Fiction Novel Chapter Word Count and Breaks

When it comes to chapter length, Brian A. Klems of Writer’s Digest says that “there are no hard-and-fast rules” and that “each chapter in your book tells a mini-story that forwards your overall plot.”

Klems further advises to “let your content dictate your chapter length, not the other way around.”

For fiction novels, the number of chapters varies — some may go as far as 50, but the general average.

Literature on chapter breaks often notes the best method is to know primarily “when and how to end a chapter.” It’s not a matter of how many words you use, but how you utilize your plot or sequence of events to compel your audience to keep reading.

Most writers and editors advise that you start writing freely at first, then assess later on where to place chapter breaks.

Sectioning your story into chapters is best done during the first phase of editing your initial draft. This is when you begin to have a structural feel of your story. This also helps you figure out what a target chapter word count might, as a consistent chapter length gives readers an anchor while engrossed in your novel.

“It’s during the editing phase when you’re most effective at correcting flow, pacing, and logic,” says NY Book Editors.

Think of the process as like making bread—you begin by mixing all the necessary ingredients together to form a dough. Then, you bake the dough to turn it into bread before cutting it up into slices.

During the first phase of editing, start dividing your story into chapters by creating an outline. This will give you a better idea of where to place the highs and lows in the sequence of events.

Once you are satisfied with the overall structure, remember to end each chapter in a stimulating manner to keep your reader wanting more from the story.

The same Reedsy article cited above recommends these approaches when writing a chapter ending:

  1. A promise or foreshadowing of things to come – this creates intrigue and sets the reader’s mind thinking: what comes next?
  2. A resolve or a means to summarize the chapter – you can use a flashback to re- familiarize the reader with past events or bring a scene to a close with a resolution.
  3. A cliffhanger – this can either be ending the chapter in the middle of a suspenseful scene or with a character’s realization which would affect his decisions or actions in the next chapter.
  4. A shift in POV – you can utilize a chapter break “to switch things up” in order to transition to another character’s POV in the next chapter.

Always think of chapter breaks as rest breaks for your reader. However, you need to sustain your reader’s anticipation and interest in order for them to keep reading your book.

To give you a general idea of the average chapter length, the range is usually between 3,000 to 5,000 words. But remember, this is more of a guideline than a rule.

For example, if you’re writing for genres that have a word count range of 80,000-89,999 words (i.e. Mainstream, Thriller, Horror, Romance, Suspense, Mystery, and Literary) and you want to adhere to the 3,000–5,000 word count range per chapter, then that would probably entail about 16 to 30 chapters.

Some chapters will end up being longer than others—don’t fixate on the word count, focus on the storytelling instead.

Shorter chapters are typically used at the beginning of the story to speed up the tempo towards the climax, but it all depends on the creative intent of your book.

Finally, develop your writer’s instincts by immersing yourself in the art. In order to write well, you need to be a voracious reader, too.

Non-fiction Novel Chapter Word Count and Breaks

Non-fiction novels are mostly designed for learning more than leisure. Because of this, they tend to be short and more straightforward — your readers want to read and learn what they can at the shortest possible time.

They also need more time to absorb and process the information they acquire from your book. So while your non-fiction book seems short, the thought process involved increases its value.

For non-fiction novels, Author Unlimited gives some methodologies and advice but asserts that there is “no right way to write a book.”

Here are some principles you can work with to keep you on the right track:

  1. Be clear about the purpose and intent of your book. In terms of length, Author Unlimited recommends writing structurally sound sections and making good use of bullets and numbers. A reasonable word count for a non-fiction book would be between 30,000 to 50,000 words. Your chapter length has to work well with the overall word count of the book — short chapters create an even distribution of both content and action.‍
  2. A chapter should only be as long as necessary. It should be enough to communicate your message effectively. Some readers skim through chapters, others may only choose topics that are relevant to them. Organize your chapters in such a way that makes it easier for your readers to find what they need.‍
  3. Each chapter should be comprehensive by itself. The content on the topic or sub-topic should be complete and can stand on its own. Cite examples and stories to help your reader achieve full comprehension of the topic being discussed.‍
  4. Work on transitioning seamlessly from one chapter to another. While content for each chapter should be complete and independent, your novel still needs to have a logical flow — from beginning to end. There has to be a “connection” that ties your chapters together. This will encourage your audience to read the whole book. There are techniques you can use to make your non-fiction novel more engaging. An open-ended question at the end of the chapter or a story told in bits and pieces across all chapters are some approaches which may help sustain your reader’s interest.‍
  5. Use as many chapters as you need to tell a complete story or to relay necessary information. Opting for fewer chapters may lengthen each section excessively and bore the reader. Conversely, chapters that are too short may not give you enough room to provide the complete story. Don’t let a particular word count drive your story, make it about the content.‍
  6. Your chapter should be clearly structured. There has to be a structure within the chapter itself. Use sub-headings to guide your reader through its content.‍
  7. Your chapters should be of similar length. While it’s understandable that each chapter can’t exactly be of the same length, a similar word count makes for consistency. Free tools like our word counter can help you stay on track.‍
  8. Entice your reader at the beginning of the book. With so many books (and e- books at that) in the market, it is essential to grab attention right away. People don’t have time to read through a lot of details — the first few pages of your book should instantly capture your reader’s interest.

To sum things up, these are the key points you need to keep in mind when writing a non-fiction novel: structure, readability, engagement, and value for your reader.

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