Really, just how long should a solid scene in a chapter be?

And what about when characters move setting but the topic is still relevant to the scene? How long would that be?

Currently my scenes in chapters are only about 2 pages long and it still feels way too short. Is there a rule of thumb?


3 Answers 3


The length of an "average" scene is about 750 words. But anywhere from 300 to 1200 is fairly normal.

Keep in mind that scene length varies by genre. Scenes also tend to be longer in the beginning as there is more description and exposition. Depending on the level of overall action, they can be shorter towards the end where there is more tightly-worded action. Here's a good analysis.

"Active" scenes tend to be longer than "reactive" scenes (scenes vs sequels), unless you're putting a lot of time into aftermath or decision-making.

Also, remember that these are just averages. Scene lengths naturally vary based on their content, and it's better to not have all scenes be the same approximate length, as that can get monotonous.


Think about what your scene is meant to show. Each one should contribute something to the story. Then, of course, the scene should end when it's accomplished that. A paragraph, a page, whatever, then move on.

It sounds like you think yours aren't doing enough. In that case, dig into the details, end the scene later or start it earlier. Play around with it. Rewrite it a hundred times.

For what it's worth, my writing tends to expand and contract several times. I'll start with not enough detail, then I'll dig in and write way too much, then trim it down. (In the final draft some of those scenes become nothing more than a sentence if that's all they deserve.)


I agree with what Ken said, and would also add this:

Look at other books in your genre. They won't all be the same, and some may be completely opposite, but sometimes, you'll find a commonality in them. I write thrillers, and they tend to have shorter chapters, so that's how I write.

Also consider your Point of View. If you are writing in third person limited, then you'll probably need to change chapters (or scenes) more often as you change POV characters. But if you're in first person, in one person's head the entire book, you may not need to change scenes so often.

But the biggest thing is just to figure out what your story demands. If the scene needs a lengthy chapter (for example, your climax scene), then stay with it longer. If it doesn't need much to accomplish what you need it to, then stick with a few paragraphs and move on. You shouldn't dictate how long your scenes are by "rule of thumb" because then your story often won't sound right. You'll either have scenes that say too little or too much for what the scene demands.

  • 1
    So many questions here can be answered by "Read." Mar 28, 2016 at 21:43
  • 1
    I remember reading a Stephen King novel, though which one escapes me, either 'The Stand' or 'Tommyknockers', where several chapters in a row were 15 to 20 pages, then the next one was one sentence. It basically reminded us that a count down was still going on, and one more sentence would have been too long.
    – IchabodE
    Mar 29, 2016 at 18:28

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