Chapter Length

When I was writing a few months ago very short chapters posted frequently were recommended to get into the 'recently published' list as often as possible. Now I hear people talking about 3 or more k being ideal due to the new rising stars algorythm.

Is there debate, or diffirent strategies for different circumstances, or is the new rule universally applicable?

Re: Chapter Length

Less than 1000 word chapters are risky. The general wisdom is to keep it between 1500 and 2500 and, yes, post as frequently as possible.

As far as I know, the thing that you want for Rising is page count, I don't think number of chapters it's split into matters. Two 1500 chapters should be exactly the same as one 3000 chapter.

Re: Chapter Length

Your style will play into your word count. Some writing styles naturally lend themselves to shorter chapter lengths, which is perfectly fine. I think the conventional wisdom is 1,500-2,500 words per chapter, which seems to be within most people attention span. Personally, I believe my writing style sets up slightly longer chapters at 2,000-3,000, which doesn't stretch the conventional wisdom too much. 

Re: Chapter Length

I think seeking to understand and potentially game the system is completely legit and I encourage it.
That being said. What you write needs to be for an audience first of all.

As I read through this thread, it is made clear to me that people have varied ideas of what a chapter consists of. I agree wholeheartedly with anyone saying a chapter shouldn't be determined by a word count. I do however think the word count is a great overview of the chapter you have structured.

I am currently writing a story "Respec Ted" with my main goal of freeing myself from overthinking and improve my writing speed at the cost of "telling" over "showing". Which I later can improve as I revise the chapters.

My current chapters ranges between 1400-3600 words. The focus for each chapter is to have a start, middle and end.
Start - recapping/reminding readers of relevant previous content and establishing the scene.
Middle - play out the scene making revelations and discoveries.
End - intrigue the reader with a quick establishment of the next scene to be played out or whatever mystery we may see unravel in the next chapter.

Once I have written the full chapter with start, middle and end, then I will check the word count. It will naturally be around 2000 words. I will suggest anyone working the same to reevaluate your chapter if it multiple thousands away from 2000.

If your chapter is below 1000 words and has a start, middle and end, then you may have written too directly and I will recommend looking through your short paragraphs and add relevant details to "show" rather than "tell".

If the chapter is above 4000 words you may have purple prose or revelations and discoveries that builds into more revelations and discoveries in the same chapter. I would consider cutting it up into multiple chapters. If the chapter contains too many scenes and unrelated stories being unfolded, then the story can suffer and feel unfocused. I attempt to let a reader, who wants to re-read parts, easily find what they want to re-explore. If you cannot easily summaries a chapter you may have too many events unfold. I try to use my chapter's title to summaries the chapter, but put in a way only readers who have read the chapter can read through.

If we go back to trying to game the system and work with the algorithm in mind. I don't think you will get any benefit from attempting to write shorter chapters. You will have to write something worth reading and I don't see anyone saving any time trying to structure a satisfying chapter (start, middle, end) under 1000 words. I think I can speak for writers in general when saying that good writing takes it's time and you will likely end up with more words naturally. A well written and entertaining story with every chapter being super short and full of clever details is very much possible, but not the easy gaming of the system as you are contemplating.

Re: Chapter Length


JLCohen Wrote: I hit rising by posting ~1k chapters for about ten days, then swapping to a 3-day per week schedule.  It should be noted that my opening chapter is roughly 3k. 
If you're posting rather frequently, people seem not to mind shorter chapters. 

Now I'm letting my chapters be a little longer (1.5k-2k).

On another note, make sure you have 4 genres selected. It's harder to hit the fantasy/action pages, but other, less popular genres seem a little easier to get on the list for.

In my opinion, those are the most competitive categories:
  • Action, Comedy, Adventure
  • Fantasy, Scifi
Chapters don't have a "correct" length. You won't abuse the algorithm that way. The only question you should ask yourself is: Is the reader going to read the next one?
For that, do you need a good cliffhanger? A relatable character? An unstoppable humour? An intriguing plot? Free pizza? A combination of all this and fast updates? You can post more frequently by writing less... make sure it does not affect the quality of your work and story in terms of pace or plot. It's up to you to find the balance. For sure, you do not need a precise number of words. 

Re: Chapter Length

I started off by posting my whole chapters (some 10K-15K words) and the length of it was just a turn off to online readers. Since I want to be read, I opted to break down my chapters into parts between 1500-2000 words. 

A side effect of posting the whole chapter, it meant it was going to drastically affect my publishing schedule. I'd be posting a full chapter a month essentially. Which meant my read through rate would drop off and spike randomly. So that tells me that readers would wait a few months when I had more 'new' chapters to read. That hurt me in the algo right there.

Posting smaller chapters (even if it was just not a broken up chapter) increased my visibility on various platforms (see I tested on a few sites and the results were pretty consistent). I have back log here to last another year, so it gives me time to create new content, but I know from experience that it takes me a week to produce 1500-2000 words that I'm happy with. So this is something you need to consider for yourself - what is your actually writing pace where you would be happy to post stuff. Do you have buffer? Did you factor in rewrites? Some people wait until an act is complete before doing a batch of rewrites - that takes time. Are you going to go on hiatus while you do that? Or will you be posting new content - burning through your buffer as you do the rewrites?

It's all up to you, but these are things I've learned to consider when deciding my posting schedule and chapter breaks.