I agree that short chapters can disappoint. You just get going and stop suddenly :)
but then i read it back and think 'my god, what have i done'
i like reading chapters of around two thousand words
sometimes when i'm done i'll break a chapter into thirds
As a reader, I have found that I prefer shorter chapters because short chapters trick me into reading just one more for hours, but that's just me *shrug*
More readers have said that they like longer chapters so that it's not ending as soon as they got immersed into the story and hence why that ~2,500 words seems to be a sweet spot for a lot of the successful stories.
I usually wait until a series has a buildup of chapters before I start reading them because I usually don't get interested until, sometimes as late as, chapter ten.
The only reason I might want the chapter to end sooner is if I'm not enjoying it and forcing myself to read in the hopes that the story gets better.
If I was going to upload a chapter significantly shorter, I'd probably have a double update day so that readers still get a decent amount to read. But I think the only really short chapter I have is an epilogue. 🤔
So yeah, I agree with others that that 2-3k word count per chapter (for online fictions) is probably the aim.
Here are my current lengths so far, I stick to 3,500 words on average (3,518 if actually calculating), though it doesn't include the text in my images:
DesiA Wrote: I think between 1-4 thousands is fine.
I agree with this, but with the caveat that if you have one 4k word chapter and a 1k word chapter, the 1k word chapter is going to feel small and unsatisfying by comparison.
Another tip is to try to keep your longest chapter no more than double your shortest chapter i.e. within the range that you stated, it might be better to stick to 1k-2k words or 2k-4k words.
That's just another thing to consider is the usual chapter length that readers come to expect from your fiction.
Take from this picture here. This chapter has been broken off into multiple parts, but the total length is about 28k words long. It is the longest chapter in the book, and about double the length of quite a bit really. This book is shorter than the rest in the series, mainly because it is a gateway. My shortest chapters in this book specifically, are between 4k to 10k is starting off, and gradually becomes larger. The center has the longest, between 11k to 28k. The final chapters(19 to 25(Finale)), has between 6k to 9.9k.
If a chapter misses a proper end, then it will feel too short almost no matter how long it is. (It will be exhausting before the feeling of being too short stops and only then the relief or it being over will only overshadow the feel of it being too short).
That said, depending on the author's style and abilities there will be some minimum average number of words needed to prepare a proper end, and perhaps some more needed to move the story forward, so you need some quantity to reach quality, too. But I doubt that number will often be very interesting (except if you plan plot for something where you want to generate chapters as fast (and thus as short) as possible and already plan to also publish it on dead wood.
Except for our chapter 2 due to story situations and not having a good break point in chapters 1 and 3, 3,000 words is the hard minimum for all my chapters.
It's usually 4,000 words though, and sometimes it will get up to 5,000.
5,000 is the soft limit, and we don't put out anything at 6,000.
Which is why we update only once a week. It takes time to make quality 3-5K words, and I absolutely hate the idea of cutting up these chapters to be smaller as they were designed to be complete chapters, even if that would mean being able to post more.
You can optimize for other things, but it doesn't seem like the most popular works do so.
fknmz Wrote: My approach is "as much or as little I need to get the point and details across," but seeing the 3k average here after I just uploaded a 10k chapter makes me feel a bit like I messed up somewhere.
That was my approach as well. I have a chapter that hit 14k words and I feel like I need to split it. To try and keep updating regularly I am now breaking my chapters into parts with about 1100 - 2000 words a week. People seemed to like my chapters being at around 2-5k, but I just can't write that much a week. I think chapter size is just where you are comfortable at as an author and where good break points are in your story.
MalevolenceMau Wrote: I know it is a bit of a small sample size right now, but through a recent poll it seems at least my readers prefer 3,500 words and more:
Your poll could possibly be skewed by the fact that no one particularly wants to tell you to post less content. It would be less prone to that error if you had a clear disclaimer saying quantity of content wouldn't change, only update size and frequency. 3,500 does sound like it could be a reasonable number, just wanted to chime in with possible poll biases.