Being a writer – part 20 – chapter length

Hi Everyone,

I hope you’re having a great start to the new year. If you’re considering self-publishing your book this year, drop me a mail. I’d love to hear from you.

The weeks progress

I have now written 16 chapters, nearly 26,000 words, for the sequel to “Am I really a secret alien spy?” – title to be revealed soon – I promise.

That’s got me thinking about chapter length. An average of 1,600 words per chapter seems short. The book I’m reading at the moment aimed at a similar age group has 280 pages and only 9 chapters. Assuming 300 words per page, that’s a chapter length of around 9,000.

But what’s the ideal length?

Firstly, what is a chapter?

A chapter is simply a way to subdivide your book up into smaller chunks. It makes it easier to digest for the reader.

The chapter is a scene, or an episode of a TV show.

Is there an ideal length?

Simply – no. There’s no hard and fast rule for an ideal length. My personal opinion, as a reader, is that I like to read a chapter at a time, I don’t like leaving a book part way through a chapter. If a chapter is too long (in my opinion), and I’m tired (I read in bed) then I tend to want to get to the end, which means I don’t read the chapter as thoroughly as I would like.

Conventional theory is that a chapter should be between 2,500 and 5,000 words.

I aim for smaller chapters because I’m writing for a younger age group.

Another theory is that a chapter is there to tell a part of the story, once that part of the story is over, then the chapter is over. Some parts of the story are naturally shorter or longer. I like this theory.

My chapter lengths vary from 1,100 words (this is considered very short) to 2,500 words.

Should all chapters be a similar length?

I do try and aim to keep my chapters within a broad parameter of words, however I let my story line define the word count, rather than the other way around.

Would the reader really enjoy reading those extra 500 or so words you put in just to increase your chapter length? Yes, if they enhance the story, no if they’re just filler.

You can use a very short chapter – 200-1,000 words for example to add emphasis to an event, however I wouldn’t do this too much.


As with all writing advice, chapter length is subjective. My personal preference is to work within a broad parameter of acceptable lengths but let the story dictate the chapter length.

If you have any questions about self-publishing, then get in contact with me. I’d love to hear from you.


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