Size Doesn't Matter

Iseult, Iseult, what grace may death not keep
As sweet for us to win of death, and sleep?

It occurred to me recently that I had no idea how long a chapter is supposed to be. Yes, I know this is a non-question; a chapter is as long as it needs to be to convey the information it's supposed to convey, and all that.

But still... what's a good length for a chapter? I'm not big on constraints, but sometimes they can be useful. If I knew, say, that a chapter is generally 30 pages long, I could write with an eye towards that. No stress if I'm under or over, but at least I have a guide, right?

So I googled, and discovered that just about the only people who want to tell you how long a chapter should be also have a magical formula for writing a bestseller and want money to share this information. This reinforces my original guess that chapters are as long as they need to be and all that.

I could have given up, but that might have meant actually working, so it was time for some research! I pulled four books of roughly the same size (around 400 pages) off the shelf and figured out how many pages per chapter for each.

Chapter length ranged from fifteen pages per chapter in a very silly paranormal romance-comedy to thirty pages per chapter in an angsty horror-romance. The other two (both fantasy romances) were at twenty and twenty-five pages per chapter. It was interesting to note that each book's chapter length remained pretty much constant throughout the entire book.

So, in my not very scientific survey, the average chapter length was twenty pages. For what it's worth.


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