Hey WBP! I’m back with a new feature called “WBP SURVEY,” where we survey the writers of WBP on a topic or question.
Today’s question is: What is your average chapter word count for your novel(s)?
I personally agonize over my chapter word counts, mostly because I want them to be uniform in length. But after conducting this survey, the general consensus seems to be: there is no magic number for chapter length!
Chapters are made up of scenes, so your chapter length is determined by when you’ve reached the end of a scene. A chapter can be comprised of three 500 words scenes or two 2500 word scenes. As long as the scene ends when the chapter ends, you’re good to go.
Axie: For REBEL SEOUL, chapters average around 2.5k, ranging from 1.5k to 3.5k.
Akshaya: I try to keep chapters under 3k whenever possible, but I probably tend to average around 2500.
Ella: I try to keep them 3-4k 🙂
Christine: In THE DEVOURING GRAY, they’re 3.5-5k.
Kat: For GUMIHO, the average per chapter is 1.2k (editor’s note: see photo below of how Kat came up with this average)
Melody: 2k-4k, with a handful of 1.5k chapters thrown in and one special chapter that’s super short
Meg: As one of my grad school professors told us, “It’s as long as it needs to be.” I can feel when something needs to be longer— that scene just needs something. I’ve got chapters under 3k and I have one over 8k. They work because the pacing works. Choose your poison basically.
Ashley: 3.5k on average, 2k-4k overall.
Foody: In DAUGHTER OF THE BURNING CITY & the Shadow Game series, I’d say they start out around 3-4k and end at 2-3k.
Katy: My early chapters are 4-5k and then they get shorter.
For Foody, Katy and Mara, the length of their chapters became shorter as the books got closer to the the end. On the opposite spectrum, Christine’s became longer.
For Kat’s GUMIHO, the word counts for each chapter have a wide range. Pictured below is the result of asking Kat what her average word count is. Everyone else just ballparked it, Kat did math. Her average word count is: 1203 words (out of 89 chapters).
In conclusion, don’t overthink your chapter lengths! You’ll know when your chapter is over because it will have a sense of “rightness” developed from having read a ton of books yourself. It’s a special feeling for a writer to reach an end of chapter. In the long journey (or video game) of novel writing, completing a chapter is like reaching a checkpoint (or finishing a level). Pat yourself on the back (save!) and move onto the next chapter.
Here’s the question posed for all of you: What is the average word counts for the chapters in your novels?
Lastly, are there are any questions or topics you’d like to ask WBP?