How Many Words In A Chapter? Writing Tips For Writers

by CJ McDaniel // January 27  

You have finally made up your mind to write a book. It’s the first book you will ever write. Writing isn’t just about punching the keys on a keyboard. There are certain things you need to know and work on. And one of them is the number of words you’re going to write in a chapter.

One tip for writers is to learn how many words a single chapter of a book has. With that knowledge, you can plan your writing and deliver on the set deadline.

This post takes a complete look at the number of words you’ll find in each chapter of a book. Keep reading to learn more!

So how many words are in a chapter?

If you examine books from diverse eras and genres, you will find that a chapter’s average word count is 1500 to 5000 words. Most people might claim a page contains 3000 to 4000 words and they’re not wrong. 

Does The Number Of Words In A Chapter Matter?

Book chapters are not empty spaces. A writer has to fill them up with words. The words in each chapter take the reader from the first chapter through to the last chapter.

The number of words in a chapter is significant when you’re writing for an audience. It is also essential when you want your book to flow smoothly.

The length of your chapters influences how the reader would interact with your book. Long chapters can sometimes leave your readers feeling bored.

How Many Words Should A Chapter Contain?

The number of words that a chapter contains could depend on the genre. It could also depend on the writer’s preference and how much information he wants to convey at a time.

It is common for genres like young adult literature, mysteries, and thrillers to have fewer words and shorter chapters. Books in literary fiction tend to have more word count, especially novels written before the 20th century, romance, and sci-fi.

Books in the romance and sci-fi category usually have 3000 words, while thrillers typically contain 600-800 words in each chapter.

The number of words each chapter contains is not an issue as long as it conveys the right message. Readers will not count the number of words each chapter contains. However, when a book is well-written, it serves the reader’s interest.

Shorter chapters help the reader to read the book at their pace. It shows them when to pause as they read. However, the effect here is that they often continue reading when you end a short chapter in a suspenseful manner.

How To Conclude Each Chapter?

Chapters should end at the possible breaks in your book or story. However, don’t conclude each chapter abruptly. Your reader needs to have a satisfactory conclusion of the chapter they have just read.

One way to conclude each chapter is to ensure that your book has a beginning, middle, and end. It should be like a stand-alone episode that can survive on its own.

At the end of the chapter, you could also highlight the change in that chapter. If it is nonfiction, summarily running through the points or new information in that chapter will suffice.

You could also conclude a chapter by raising questions, which the reader should at the end of the chapter. It brings the reader up-to-date. Also, the reader will be clear on what questions the next chapter will be answering.

You don’t have to make these questions too obvious. You could hint at the question. Try to be as subtle as possible.

The Debate About How Long A Chapter Should Be

There is an ongoing debate on the ideal number of words for a chapter. But it seems everyone has different views on the subject matter. However, have agreed that 1000 words are relatively too short and 5000 words are too long on a general note.

This means that a safer place would be to find a middle ground. So, 2500-3000 words are the average number. However, the common ground between these views is that the length should depend on the story and serve the reader.

What To Note About The Length Of Your Chapter?

The first thing every writer should know about the length of a chapter is: there are no rules. There are only guidelines. Nobody is saying that a chapter must be a specific number of words. In all, it is up to you to decide.

You need to know that the story or message of the book is the most important thing. So, the length of your chapters would depend on what you are writing. However, the chapter should end at the point where a reader would want to take a break.

Famous Authors And The Number Of Words In Their Chapters

A look at what some famous authors did with their book chapters would give us pointers to what is obtainable. For example, Khaled Hosseini’s The Kite Runner has an average of 4282 words in a chapter. Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale has an average of 2096 words per chapter.

Twilight has an average of 4580 words in a chapter. Similarly, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone average 4560 words in a chapter. Middlesex seems to be on the longer side with an average of 6023 words per chapter.

What’s The Purpose Of Having Chapters In A Book?

Writers use chapters to segment the information. A reader does not have to consume the entire book at a stretch to avoid information overload. Instead, the existence of chapters breaks the book into sizable chunks for the reader.

Having a chapter also helps you to stretch the suspense in the book. You are invariably determining the pace at which the reader reads the book. When a reader reaches the end of each chapter, his mind gets ready to move in the story or book idea.

Tips On How To Write Book Chapters

It is the summation of the chapters that add to the overall story of the book. So, a chapter is critical in giving the reader a good reading experience.

Keep your chapters as short as possible. When it is too long, readers become bored quickly. It will feel like the chapter will never end.

There must be a correlation between the chapters of the book. If each chapter does not blend in with the rest, the book will not have a smooth flow. Each chapter must have an aim that connects it to the overall purpose of the book.

A good chapter should develop the character more, take the reader further in the overall message or story and convey more information. Ensure you don’t fill up your chapter with fluffs.

Each chapter should answer questions raised in the previous. It should raise more questions for the reader as it progresses. It is these new questions that the reader has to continue reading to find answers to them.

What every chapter must have:

If you are writing a story, your chapter should begin with a character in an activity. Every chapter should have a goal. The goal could be to introduce a new character; help the reader know a character more, etc.

Use titles for your chapters. The titles should summarize the chapter without being a spoiler. The titles should be relevant to your book or story.

A chapter title serves different purposes. It captures the reader’s attention. It also highlights the core focus of each chapter. With good titles, the readers have clear direction through the book or story.

You could also use each chapter to showcase a different point of view in the book. The main characters would have the opportunity to contribute to the story from their perspective. It gives the book a wholesome effect.

Ensure that your chapters have a good structure. The story should develop naturally. With a proper structure, the chapter will be able to serve its purpose.

Have a strong ending for your chapter. A lot of persons struggle with this. However, you could end your chapter before you get to the story’s climax or when the reader is tense.

Dealing with the first chapter:

Authors often say that the first chapter is the most difficult. However, it doesn’t have to be so difficult for you to read this. Start by letting your first chapter introduce the main character of your book.

You don’t need to reveal everything about the main character or idea here. Just some pointers are okay. However, the way you talk about the main character or idea should make us what to go on to find out more.

With the first chapter, you can set the tone for the rest of the book. Use the right words to achieve that. Subtly give us a clue of what the book’s theme is. We also need to understand where the book or story is starting from as we prepare to go on this journey.

In essence, the first chapter needs to grab the attention of the reader. With an uninteresting first chapter, many will not proceed to read the rest of the book. So, you need to grab attention with the first few paragraphs and sustain it throughout the book.


You could break your chapters according to time. You could also break it into different settings, narrators, and points of view. However, bear in mind that you decide what to make of your chapters. There is no fixed word count for your chapters.

About the Author

CJ grew up admiring books. His family owned a small bookstore throughout his early childhood, and he would spend weekends flipping through book after book, always sure to read the ones that looked the most interesting. Not much has changed since then, except now some of those interesting books he picks off the shelf were designed by his company!