Some will tell you that 2,500 words is the average, while others will tell you that chapters of 3,000 to 5,000 words are more likely to be the norm. Most people think that less than 1,000 words is too short, while more than 5,000 words is too lengthy. Chapters should be between 3,000 and 5,000 words in length as a general rule.
Books are divided into chapters for several reasons. The most obvious is that it makes it easier to divide the book into sections for browsing or reading. But there are other reasons as well. For example, chapters allow the author to comment on related topics, to include references, and sometimes to explain away inconsistencies in the story.
In academic books, articles, and proceedings before 2001, books usually had from one to four chapters. More recently, however, some books have had five or six chapters. There is no hard and fast rule about how many chapters a book should have, but three to five seems like a good range. A book can have more than five chapters if it wants to cover more than one subject.
The term "chapter" comes from the old French word "capitale," which means head. So, a chapter is a brief summary that gives a quick view of the topic.
Generally, a chapter should be long enough to be informative but not so long that it becomes difficult to follow. Some chapters may only include a section or two while others may include several pages of text.
They are all in agreement that the chapter length should be determined by the plot and that any chapter length goals you set are only recommendations.
In terms of chapters as units, some writers divide up their work into segments or "chapters" before they start writing them, while others write full drafts without dividing them into sections. Some writers may have problems finishing their books, so they decide to split up the story into smaller pieces instead. This can be useful if you find that what you're writing isn't going anywhere or if you feel like you need a break from the project for any other reason. The most important thing is that you're not splitting up your story just because you want to write several chapters at once or because you think it will help with editing later on.
As for the number of words in a chapter, that depends on how much detail you want to include and how much space you have available. If you want to keep things simple, you can probably get by with around 500 words per chapter. More often than not, writers choose to be more detailed rather than less; therefore, we would recommend typing at least 1,500 words per chapter. There's no right or wrong here, but knowing how much text you're working with will help you determine how many chapters you should be writing.
We looked at novels from various genres and times to determine how lengthy a chapter should be. We may derive some parameters from these figures: the average word count of a chapter is between 1,500 and 5,000 words, with 3,000-4,000 being the most common sweet spot. There are chapters that are shorter or longer than this average; neither situation is unusual.
In general, a chapter should be long enough to contain an idea or plot point, but not so long that it becomes difficult to follow or interest wanes. A chapter of around 1,500 words is ideal; those who can write more efficiently may want to split their chapters into two parts of about 500 words each.
Some chapters are longer than others. The longest we saw was volume 7 of Gegege no Kitaro, which was 24 pages long. This is quite long compared to the other volumes, which range from 10 to 17 pages. Even after accounting for the fact that some chapters include additional material such as endpapers, magazines, or books, it seems clear that a Manga chapter can be longer than our estimate of about 1,500 words.
Manga tend to use more complex narrative structures than novelists realize, so it's not surprising that they would also need longer chapters. It's possible to write short stories in Japan too, but they usually only last around 1000 words because there aren't really any restrictions on story length.
The longest chapter in Charles Dickens' novel The Pickwick Papers is just under 13,000 words long. It takes up almost one full page of text in today's books. The shortest chapter in George Orwell's novel 1984 is just over 1,500 words long.
In his book The Art of the Novel, Henry James suggests that writers should attempt to write a chapter of between 500 and 1,000 words. This allows enough space for meaningful dialogue and description while not being so short as to make it difficult for the reader to follow the story.
There are many factors to take into account when deciding how long your chapters should be. For example, if you write action-packed scenes with lots of moving parts, then shorter chapters would be more suitable because more can happen in such a short amount of time. However, if your chapter mainly consists of characters discussing their feelings or thinking about past events, then longer chapters would be better because there is less room for description and more room for introspection.
The typical word count for a chapter is between 2,000 and 5,000 words, however it all depends on your tale. (We cannot stress this enough.) There are several novels that purposely manipulate the word counts of their chapters. So, instead of writing a chapter with one eye on your tale and the other on your word count, write a chapter with both eyes on your story. Then when you get to the end, look at how many words you have left to go.
If you think you might want to change or add something to your tale then writing a shorter or longer chapter is best. You can always cut or expand upon material later if necessary. As long as you are happy with what you have written so far then there is no need to worry about the number of words in a chapter.
Most writers choose to focus exclusively on one story at a time, but some authors may have multiple stories going at once. It all depends on the type of writing they do and how much control they want over each one. If they plan out their work ahead of time then they should be able to tell you exactly how many words each chapter of each story will be. Otherwise, they might find themselves stuck when it comes to writing certain types of scenes or characters.
The more detail you can include the better because your readers will not know what you are thinking or feeling unless you show it in your writing.
For example, if you're writing for genres with word counts ranging from 80,000 to 89,999 words (i.e. Mainstream, Thriller, Horror, Romance, Suspense, Mystery, and Literary) and wish to stick to the 3,000–5,000 word count range per chapter, you'd probably need 16 to 30 chapters. This is assuming you want each chapter to be around 5,000 words long, which is a common length for these types of books.
That said, you should always keep in mind what type of book you're writing when deciding how many chapters it will have. If you're writing a non-fiction book that's expected to have 20 or more chapters, then you should plan to write around 250 pages per chapter.
For examples of chapter lengths within specific genres, here are some approximate chapter lengths for various kinds of books:
Mystery/Thriller/Detective novels typically have between 15 and 25 chapters. This means you'll need between 45,000 and 75,000 words per chapter.
Romance novels usually have between 12 and 20 chapters. This means you'll need between 48,000 and 80,000 words per chapter.
Science fiction novels tend to have between 20 and 50 chapters. This means you'll need between 80,000 and 160,000 words per chapter.
History books often have over 100 chapters.