Just Curious....

For you novel writers out there, do you tend to write chapters that are fairly uniform in length or are you all over the place?  In the past, I've been pretty consistent, but with this current WIP, it's a lot more variable.

Just curious.


  1. In general, my chapter lengths vary. I've been trying to write longer chapters because I used to write chapters with less than 2,000 words. Right now, the chapters very from 1,200 to almost 4,000 words a chapter. The book I just finished, that's what the range was for the novel chapters. The one I'm doing the rewrite for is a bit more uniform, since the chapters were short but I'm trying to at least double the word count in length. Both chapters done so far are a bit over 2,000 words but I'm betting there will be longer chapters later on.

    Not very uniform in general, but sometimes close. I try to not worry about the length too much and write whatever the chapter needs.

  2. Mine are all over the place. I like variation in sentences, paragraphs, chapters, and book length. My chapters break wherever it feels natural to break them.

  3. I don't write chapters. I put the breaks in later where they fit. I always figure if the book is good enough the reader will only notice that they don't want to stop, not that each chapter is exactly 10 pages long.

  4. I try to keep them consistent, but that's not always possible. My kids are 13, 12, and 10, and I still read out loud to them at night (it's a family tradition we started a long time ago and none of us - except the 10 year old who's very contrary and can't agree on a book with the rest of us - want to give up.) Anyway, now that they're older I'm reading much longer books (right now we're reading the Fablehaven series) and it's really helpful to me to have an idea when the chapter's going to end, to know if I can fit two chapters into our reading time, or if I'm going to have to break in the middle because the chapters are too long to finish in half an hour. So I do appreciate books that are fairly consistent, but obviously the story has to come first.

  5. Excellent question, Karen. In the past, I think my chapters have been pretty uniform. My current WIP, which is YA, has a variety. What is consistent, though, is that every chapter regardless of format or length has strong dramatic action.

  6. Oooh, love the range of answers!

    Dawn--I'm curious why you felt the need for your chapters to be longer than 2000 words.

    Myrna--That seemed to be the general consensus of my crit group.

    Amie--Ooh. Such an interesting way of handling it. My mind works so differently. I just know when a chapter has just ended.

    Susan--I didn't even think about the read-aloud issue.

    Clara--Thanks! So important to remember the action. :)

  7. I focus more on scene length than chapter length. And yes, they're all over the place in terms of length. It just depends on what's happening in the scene and the pace. Some scenes are short because there isn't a lot of conflict but the scene is still important to the story.

  8. Right now, they are pretty consistent, but they haven't always been.

  9. Mine tend to be short to medium length with an occasional long thrown in. I guess I'm pretty random.

  10. I've written 4 novels in the last two years, none published yet, but my general rule of thiumb has been to outline based on scene breaks, and then break the chapters up based on that.

    I don't go by word count, because, since I'm seriously thinking about self-pubbing, they are formatted for print as I write them.

    5x8 sheets, 30 lines or so to a page, and 10-15 pages per chapter.

    I'm writing MG/YA Fantasy and SciFi, so the attention span is something I consider. Sometimes, I will see if a Loooong scene can be broken into two chapters.

    For instance, when I was writing book 3 of my Lynvia series, a certain chapter was to encapsulate a swordfight to the death, a battle to the top of the castle parapets, and then a wizard's duel up there.

    This ended up being 3 chapters, broken up just that way.

    I don't get hung up with the industry mandates of MG must be 50-65k, YA must be 70-85k, etc.

    I write a good, gripping, action-packed adventure with a great plot and identifiable scene ends for each chapter, often leaving the kids on a cliffhanger begging for 'one more chapter please please oh please, Daddy!'

    I live for those words! :-D

  11. Our chapters tend to average out at around 1200 words. Not sure why, but that's pretty much how they always go. Fairly short chapters, I guess. This is such an interesting question!