I think the ideal length should be based on the length you're comfortable with writing. My average length for a chapter usually spans between 5000 to 8000 words. These are multi-chap fics, for one-shots I can go well over 10k words. I don't have much control over the length of my chapters because I only stop when I reach a point that I feel comfortable stopping at, and I just happen to end up with around 5000-8000 words for that chapter. I think you should focus more if you're reaching the goal you have set for the chapter rather than the length of it.
I personally like and look for fanfics that have at least 5000 or more words per chapter because I like reading long chapters. It doesn't put me off if it takes me 30 minutes or more to finish a chapter, in fact I love it more lol Especially if the fanfic is on-going or if the author is one of those that take forever to update. But for many fanfics, I see authors write 1000 to 3000 words per chapter on average and that is a pretty good length for a chapter. But I think you should write at the length you feel comfortable with and end wherever you feel comfortable with :)8/10/2013 #121
|miss skinny love
I personally have no problem with however long a chapter is. 70 000 words? Awesome. Chocolate, chair, phone, let's do this. But if I start reading, I ain't gonna stop 'til I'm done, baby! I mean, yesterday I got the book 'Mila', a 470 page book, and devoured it in 3 hours. No break. I literally get sucked in. My problem is the grammar/spelling on fics. A few mistakes? It's chilled. They happen. More than ten? Uuuh, no... Lots? No way, man. I'd be embarassed. It's an art that you are displaying- show some pride! I'd be afraid to read it, for fear I'd become a moronic idiot playing dress-up in the world of literature.8/30/2013 #122
Hahaha it's not just American teenagers who have short attention spans :') I have horribly short attention spans too, and I really cannot read long stories... I think it's just our generation and all. Unless it's very exciting then I would wish the author to have written more. Other than that, I think it's best to keep it short, but not too short, 3000 should be good!
Writing from a reader's POV, not an author's. I have no rights whatsoever to be talking about chapter length as an author cause I write extremely short stories! Due to my laziness2/4/2014 #123
I think it's a big mistake to get too caught up in the numbers. Word count doesn't create a good story. If someone told you 3000 was the ideal chapter length but the chapter your writing involves this big involved action scene, are you going to cut it off at 3000 even if you suspect you have about 1000 more words to go? If you were writing a chapter that was perfect at 2000 words, are you going to add filler to plump it up or extend it beyond where its natural end is, to hit that ideal number? I would hope not.
Chapter length is more something you feel and sense rather than rely on any number pulled out of the sky. When I read, I don't care about how many words a chapter is. In a good story, I won't even notice chapter length or word count. It's when I do take notice of how long or short the chapter feels, then there is a problem for me. A chapter that is dragging and loaded with filler is too long, a chapter that feels cutoff and incomplete or unfulfilling is probably too short, regardless of word count.2/4/2014 . Edited 2/4/2014 #124
I've checked my word-count as a way of checking progress, but I think all this does, is tempt me into beefing up my story unneccesarily.
As of right now, I'm forced to use my email to write with . . 150 words at a time. I'm focusing far more on just moving through the events. I think that because of this, I'm actually working a lot faster than I have in the past. I feel that I can be done with this first draft in a matter of weeks.2/4/2014 #125
This will probably sound strange, but I can't read a structure without at least 1000 words a chapter average. If I see a story with 22 chapters, but only 1.7k words, I can't read it.2/4/2014 #126
Most of the chapters I write tend to be between 4000 and 5000 words. I have written a few chapters that are around 1000 words and one chapter that was just over 8000 words. When I look to read a story, I tend to click on the ones that, when averaged out, are around 4000 words. 1500 words and below aren't enough for me to 'get my teeth into'. I find that 5000 words is a little to much for a chapters and usually the chapter drags. That's just my opinion, though.2/4/2014 #127
Writing from a reader's POV, not an author's. I have no rights whatsoever to be talking about chapter length as an author cause I write extremely short stories!
Actually, I think the reader's perspective is more important than an author's perspective. The author isn't the one reading it, most of the time. It's a whole bunch of readers. There are tons of things that authors will love about their own fics and loathe in other people's fics. Why? Because it's theirs. And when that happens, you can't really go off author opinion. It's reader opinion that really counts.
I think it's a big mistake to get too caught up in the numbers.
Very true. Reading the same 3k for fic can drag on forever while disappearing quick for another fic, just because the first author didn't make good use of those 3k words and the second did. Some people don't know how to make information interesting or fun.2/4/2014 #128
For my main story, I started out with 2,000-3,000 words per chapter and I did get some complaints about how short each chapter was. My recent chapters have all been 4,000-5,000 which I found doable, and I haven't gotten any complaints.
I think chapters that are really long (7,000) just start dragging a bit.2/6/2014 #129
EDIT: Sorry, thought the title said "Character Length"!2/6/2014 . Edited 2/6/2014 #130
My story has 90k words and only 10 chapters. Welp. Shorter chapters give you a lot more viewers because you update it more. That's all.2/6/2014 #131
I like long chapters but will admit to not even reading chapters that are to long they get boring4/23/2014 #132
Long chapters turn me off just as much as a short chapter. I find between 3,000-6,000 words is the sweet spot. For me personally I have a limited time to read stories, so if I can't finish the chapter in a sitting, I find it annoying to have to scroll down to find the place I left off to continue reading. I will say that if I see a story that's 50 chapters long, but only 50,000 words long, I'll pass it over, the same is true if I see a story that's 10 chapters long, but 100,000 words long.4/24/2014 #133
There is no perfect chapter length.
The ideal length of the chapter tends to vary significantly for person-to-person. Some may be willing to read at least fifteen-thousand to twenty-thousand words per chapter; others tend to prefer chapters of up to three-thousand to eight-thousand. Chapter lengths just depend on how much content you want or need to put in your chapter.
I wouldn't advise putting filler in a chapter just for the sake of making it longer; not only it's time-consuming and wasteful for the reader, it also serves no purpose in the plot. Make the content meaningful and focused on the themes and topics of your plot.
In my opinion, I don't think ten-thousand words is ridiculously long, but that's up for debate, really. Just focus on determining the amount of purposeful content in your chapter.4/25/2014 . Edited 4/25/2014 #134
My first complete story, The Scorpion's Serenade, is exactly 6,686 words and split into four chapters about 800-1000 words each. It was originally a Oneshot when I first uploaded it.
My second story, Hide Away, Love, is 8082 words the last time I checked - I am working on it right now. Each chapter is somewhere around 1000-3000 words each.
There is no perfect chapter length.
I agree with that. It depends on the author - some authors like to write short chapters, and others like longer chapters. Though personally, I think a decent fic should be anywhere between 800-3500 words for each chapter. When I read fanfics I'm usually looking for fics with 1000 - 3500 words per chapter (4000 words at maximum), depending on how gripping the plot is (and also my mood). Some days I am inspired to get lost writing well over 2000 words in a single day (I took two days to write The Scorpion's Serenade from start to finish). Other days, I have the attention span of a goldfish's memory :p
x MangaTheatre.4/25/2014 . Edited 4/25/2014 #135
My criteria for the length of stories is usually around something like a minimum twenty-to-three thousand words. For short stories, something around three-thousand to six-thousand.4/25/2014 #136
What about Oneshots? For me, I would usually go for about 4000-5000 words for Oneshots, otherwise pretty much the same for TwoShots (e.g. 2000-2500 words for each chapter).
x MangaTheatre.4/25/2014 . Edited 4/25/2014 #137
Sorry, I should have clarified that I call oneshots 'short stories' now, since they are pretty much the same thing, in terms of length and purpose.4/25/2014 #138
Hi, I'm Aoi-Chan. I'm kinda freaking out here! I'm working to publish a book in the future. It's my first book and I really need advise! So I've written about 4-5 chapters (I just begun 5) and chapter 2 has only 1245 words in it. I'm afraid that is too short? Please help?!?!?!4/27/2014 #139
I really wouldn't be so concerned with the length of only a single chapter. And you haven't actually said how long the other chapters are, so it's not like you can get an answer yet anyway. Chapter length usually has more to do with the complexity of the story and the target audience than it does word count. If you're afraid a chapter is too short, try giving it more details. Add in the five senses, don't summarize the events that occur or conversations that are had. Show what people are doing as they talk and expand on the thoughts and feelings of your characters. And if you're missing any of this in the chapters you already have, you'll want to add it in because this is a common problem newer authors have. They don't realize just how much goes into writing a story.
I also suggest getting a beta to help you make the story better, fix flaws and generally get your story headed toward being the best version of itself that it can be. It can also help to look through the threads on this forum and learn from the discussions we've had here. There's a lot of good info that can help you become a better author. The critique threads have a lot of good examples of things people miss in their stories and why that's a problem.4/27/2014 #140
Hello Aoi. :) So like Wildcard said you probably shouldn't worry about chapter length so much. Personally I would focus on length consistency. This may just be me, but I wouldn't be thrown off by a short chapter unless it was the only chapter that short without there being a good reason for it.
Also, and I think I'm repeating Wildcard again, think about your target audience. Generally speaking, the older the audience, the longer the chapters are expected to be because the stories are generally more complex. I wouldn't regard that as a hard and fast rule though. Just something to think about.
I am assuming, based on the way you describe your chapter, that the others are presumably longer, but I don't know how much. It might not be a big deal, but if there's a significant difference go back and look at it. More often than not when I go look back at short chapters I can find whole scenes that I could put in there without messing with the pacing or plot, in fact often adding to it.
Good luck with your book!4/27/2014 #141
So I've written about 4-5 chapters (I just begun 5) and chapter 2 has only 1245 words in it. I'm afraid that is too short?
I don't think this is something you need to worry about right now. You're at the start of your first rough draft. Deciding exactly where the chapter breaks go is something I'd not even consider doing until I'd completed my second draft. You can waste an awful lot of time tweaking something which may end up being cut, or completely rewritten, or combined with something else entirely.
(I just begun 5) and chapter 2 has only 1245 words in it.
I would throw away the preconceived notion that a chapter has to be a specific length to be good and instead focus on content and pacing. After all, chapters are as long or as short as they need to be. There are some books that have a chapter length of only five - ten words and it works for the story.
In general, I find my sweet spot to be about 6k words/chapter. I tend to run on the verbose side, of course (*cough* Mercenary has a what, 12k word prologue?) but I've been told that despite the wordiness, I don't tend to drag.
I usually prefer fics with longer chapters as well, probably because I like having little worldbuilding details, and for some reason, I tend to find fics with longer chapters flow better for me. Cadence, IMO, is far far more important than actual word count. A story with a cadence I can get along with is a lot easier to read than one I can't get a long with.5/14/2014 . Edited 5/14/2014 #144
I've always been the type to give myself a boundary for each chapter. At LEAST 1,000 words, with a cut off of 4,000 words is my personal preference. I do it for a two-fold reason:
1. I do it because I don't want to waste my reader's time. I've always tried to be conscious of the fact that people are taking time out of their day to read what I have to offer, so I try not to bore anyone by rambling for too long.
2. Some writers are great at writing a ton of words and holding attention, but I understand that it's not my strength, so the limit is also a reminder for me to trim and cut out unnecessary parts.
If it's a one-shot, I usually shoot for 2,000-6,000 words (But I don't write a lot of those...)5/14/2014 #145
It's 'Usually', I think you were trying to say. Not uselessly. Uselessly is a variation of the word useless, which means something has no use.7/3/2014 #146
|Rogue black knight
My average chapter length is 3000-5999 words not counting prologues or one shots. I originally wanted to do a 10000 word long chapter but always break it up due to length7/4/2014 #147
Somewhere from 1500 to 4000 is where I like to both read and write. However the chapters for one story should remain a similar length.7/12/2014 #148
There is no "good chapter length". Writers' workshops have discussed this matter in length. Faulkner and Stephen King have these one-liner chapters. Kurt Vonnegut's chapters are short and to the point. And then there are peeps like Erikson who spends some 60 pages per chapter (just checked on Midnight Tides).
You have to remember that a book is not exactly what you see on FFN. FFN does not allow you to insert the opening page, for instance. As it is on screen, there is also the issue of "readability"; that is, people tend to read far less on the screen than on paper. I had a HECK of a time reading Lionel Shriver on screen, blazed through it in a night when I got the actual book.
I have noticed that shorter chapters apparently make reading a little easier, but easier does not always mean better. So the simple answer is, whatever length you feel is right for that chapter... is the right length. That's all.
I use Scrivener to write, and my fictions are set up differently. My original fiction can run up to 10,000 words per chapter, but have 3, 4 scenes; the one I'm re-writing averages about 3000 words per chapter; the one that's on hold originally was divided into 3 scenes per chapter, 3000 words per scene.7/12/2014 . Edited 7/12/2014 #149
|m r s . w r i t i n g
GabrieleduVent, you make a very good point about reading on screen being way different than off screen. Sitting at your computer, and reading a fan fiction can get tiring - especially when you're a writer who spends time writing AND editing AND reading AND (in some cases) reviewing everything you read. That time adds up, and not everyone has a ton of disposable time. Granted, that amount of time is definitely going to vary, because everyone reads at a different pace. I, for example, am a slow reader. I always have been. I take my time, and when I do, I enjoy and soak the story up more.
The "ideal chapter length" will depend on a lot of things. The individual reader's free time. How long it takes them to read. What genre the story is, & the plot of the story. Are there situational complexities? Is there a lot of elaboration and detail needed to establish the quality of the read? Also, with every writer, especially fan fiction who write for free, with jobs, school, and families to worry about daily, the frequency in updating may affect the word count. I just don't update as frequently as I would like, so when I do, I try to make it worth while for my subscribed readers. I'd feel like I'm cheating them with a short 1,200 - 2,000 word chapter. I want to give them something to enjoy, around 5,000 words or higher. That's just my personal preference, based on my situation: my time, my story, my updating frequency, and generally what my readers have approved of in the past.
I think each writer will lean more towards either what makes them happy or what will keep the readers coming. If it's really important to you to please the reader, that's okay, and there are ways to communicate with your readers on FFnet (and other online sites) to gather opinions, or windows of opportunity with author's notes & such. You can find out how long they want the chapters. Other writers are particular on what makes them happy, and that's fine, too. And then there are the experienced writers who've found a happy balance.7/12/2014 #150
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