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I've been working on a story for the last 4 years. It's just a personal project now and I've gone really in depth to clean up any plot holes I can readily see (thanks Cinemasins). I think I love this story almost as much as I love my boyfriend; it's a fanfiction (not the gross kind, a bringing-back-a-short-lived-90s-show-from-the-dead-because-it-was-great kind) of Ed Edd N Eddy. I'm in the editing stage now cuz this book needed a glow up, and I just finished the first chapter.

Based on Grammarly, it is 7,812 words long and has a 30 minute reading time and a 1 hour speaking time. My aunt, who is a 3rd grade teacher and doesn't seem to read more than the average elementary school chapter book, told me it was much too long and a chapter should only be about 10 pages long. This isn't an elementary school chapter book, and not even a middle school one. It's a book for Ed Edd N Eddy lovers to keep the show alive in their mind. My aunt seems to want me to feel bad but I still really love what I'm doing and it's making me happy. That's all that matters, isn't it? Should I really cut it down or is it fine to keep it how it is? It all seems to flow together, and when I read it, it didn't feel like it was that long.

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    Hi Emily, chapter length is like breathing. Some people can just hold their breath for a while longer. Also, "Cutting down" is a different thing from "breaking into smaller chapters". However, perhaps helpful to answer your question: how did you decide that all the 7812 words belonged to the same chapter? Is the style and register of your writing for an adult or young-adult audience? – NofP Jul 15 at 20:29
  • I suggest breaking it into 3 chapters. You don't need any chapter breaks, of course, or paragraph breaks for that matter. But your readers probably want them a bit shorter. – DPT Jul 15 at 20:33
  • Hi Emily, welcome to writing.se! Take the tour and visit the help center when you get a chance. This is a good first question, so good that it has been asked before. Check out the duplicate linked by Galastel, if there are part of your question that you don't feel this address you can edit your question to make that clearer. Then the question can be reopened (if it gets closed). Good luck and happy writing! – linksassin Jul 16 at 2:40
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I don't think it is too long, I write chapters nearly that long.

Some readers (even my own) complain that they use chapters to gauge their progress through the story and as stopping points, and very long chapters mess them up on that.

You don't have to break yours up, but in response to that I have broken a chapter somewhere in the 40% to 60% area, by finding a dramatic moment to end one chapter, but continue with exactly the same scene and dialogue in the next chapter!

In a way, it was just to emphasize something revelatory that one character said; making it the last line in a chapter, kind of like a cliff-hanger before another character responds. But anything that could use a "dramatic pause" will do.

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I put a paragraph break in your question as an edit, but it's still a huge block of text (now two huge blocks).

Chapter dividers are a grander version of that. They give your reader a chance to catch her/his breath. Don't make it hard for them to take a break. A lot of people like to stop at the end of a chapter.

Some books don't have any chapters at all. But a lot of people will choose not to read them for that reason.

So what's a reasonable range? Well it varies a lot. One comparison of well-known novels has a range from 942 words to 7226.

But...the 7226 (One Hundred Years of Solitude) is an outlier (and written in a language with a lot more use of articles than English). The next closest example is 6023 words, 3rd is 5294 words. The ones with the shortest chapters are young-adult/middle-grade or unusual formats.

The basic range seems to be 2000-5000 words for adult novels.

Sure, you can go over or under this as you wish. But I would break up your first chapter into two.

  • You don't have to say but I am curious what led to a downvote. – Cyn says make Monica whole Jul 15 at 21:46
  • +1 for the statistics. I was looking for one. It would have been very interesting to see the count for older novel. – NofP Jul 15 at 21:52
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    I would add that One Hundred Years of Solitude has a structure that reflects a major theme of the book, so the outlier chapter lengths have a clear justification. (That is, in this story there is no end to events, it's a continuum. No breaks for the readers!) – wordsworth Jul 18 at 20:29

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