This Wikipedia page tells you under which classification a fictional work falls under depending on its length, so we have 3 I am most interested in, namely: novellette, novella and novel. We could argue that all of them are novels, so would you agree that the length of a chapter should depend on the length of the novel?

Moreover, how short should the shortest chapter be? I am asking, because sometimes, you write a scene, and you have a hard time adding any relevant information to it and you want to end it as soon as possible. One of my chapters is barely 400 words long, so I was kinda concerned about the length.


5 Answers 5


Shorter chapters for shorter books, but you don't have to.

I mostly read novels on longer side, epic fantasy and similar. In these chapter length varies widely from author to author. The most common would be to have chapter lengths between 3000 and 4000 words. Some though use far longer chapters, with section breaks rather than chapters. And some use far shorter, chapters don't even have to cover the entire page.

I have read novellas without chapters at all and novellas where the longest chapter was ~1000 words.

In general I would say the shorter the overall work the shorter the average chapter length. If you want to use long chapter in shorter works you will need to do more with each chapter. 5000 word chapters in a novella may only give you 3 or 4 chapters to tell your story. However this isn't a bad thing and many good books have this structure.

In writing this answer I realised a lot of what I was saying was a better fit for the more general sizing of a chapter question so a lot of what I said there also applies here. In summary, use chapters for pacing and don't worry about actual word count.


The length of the chapter should be dependent on what you need to say. If you're writing a battle scene from the perspective of a character, then make it longer. However, you do not need every chapter to exceed a word count. Write and do not worry about word count.


Chapters should reflect the sequence or flow you are looking for. Keep the reader interested enough to want to actually read the next chapter. Some books almost want you to "skip" a chapter.


There are no hard and fast rules about how long a chapter needs to be, or should be.

A chapter in a novel is a consumable / semi-self contained chunk of a story, it may contain one or more scenes.

If the average length of your chapters in your story is 5000 words, there is nothing to say that you can't have a mega chapter with 15,000 words, or a tiny transitional chapter with just 1,500 words.


yes i agree it doesn't matter how many chapters you have it only matters if your happy with it and you put a lot of hard work into the pages

"writing a book is not easy and it is a lot of hard work but it is one of life's satisfying achievements"

Thanks Myah Mitchell

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    Oct 30, 2019 at 1:48

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