What’s a Good Length?

31 Jan

Just how long is too long? What about too short? What is a good length?

No. That’s not what I mean—although that is a good question… What I mean is chapter and book length so get your mind out of the gutter. Or at least take me there with you. 😉

Anyway, I’d love to get opinions from the reader’s perspective. Even other authors because, after all, we were readers first and still love to read. But I’m not talking about what we prefer to write—that’s another issue.

I know there are many people who like those big, thick books. The ones that make my head hurt just looking at them. There are people who like long, drawn out chapters. The kinds that make me want to throw a book across the room because I need a break but don’t want to stop reading until I get to the end of the chapter. Now, if there are breaks in the chapter, that’s not so bad. It gives me a breather.

I guess you can tell I don’t prefer long chapters and books. My schedule is so busy I barely have time to squeeze reading in. I’m lucky if I can read a chapter or two a day right now—and those are my beloved short chapters.

Because I don’t get to read much, I want shorter books so it doesn’t take me all freaking year to read just one.

I prefer novellas and short novels between 20,000 and 60,000 words (probably 200 pages or less) but if the story is good enough I might be able to get into something around 100,000 words, although that is rare. I prefer chapters around 2000-3000 words (probably less than 8 or 10 pages).

I like short stories and novelettes sometimes, too, but I don’t really like flash fiction—although I have written some. I want more of a story than that offers so I guess that would be too short for me.

Unfortunately we don’t have a lot of time to spare anymore. So what do you think as a reader? Do you prefer shorter books and chapters or longer ones? What is too short for you and what is too long?

And as for that other question regarding size, I plan to tackle it in another of my Let’s Talk About Sex posts in the future.


Posted by on January 31, 2013 in Reading


Tags: , ,

6 responses to “What’s a Good Length?

  1. Andy

    January 31, 2013 at 12:05 pm

    When reading, I prefer digestible chapters as well. It gives you a place to breathe. When writing, I always aim for 2k. That’s my comfort zone. I feel like I’ve done it justice at that point. Some chapters rightfully deserve more, but they can’t be endless. But, I think it also depends on the part of the book you’re in. You don’t want massive chapters to start. Big chapters feel slow in the beginning of the book. But, once your in the heart of it and approaching the climactic moment, I think you can get away with more because the reader wants more at that point.

    • Lorraine Pearl

      January 31, 2013 at 12:59 pm

      Hi Andy, thanks for stopping by and commenting. You’re definitely right about some chapters needing more, especially in the latter part of the book. But then, I’ve seen it just the opposite where the author throws in shorter chapters toward the end that cut quick and leave you wanting more. It kind of ramps up the climax. I’d say that has to be the best thing about books and writing, whichever way works for the story is the best way so they can all be different. Still, when I’m reading, I rarely want those long chapters–or long books. And when I’m writing, I prefer chapters the same length you aim for. If it needs less, okay. If it needs more, okay. But I rarely write a chapter over 3500 words.

  2. intheAMDay

    January 31, 2013 at 7:04 pm

    It depends on how a book captures me. I’ll read hundreds of pages like Eclipse and Breaking Dawn…read them 3 times each. Oh and Fifty Shades book 1 & 2 over again. If there is decent hook, length isn’t an issue unless the reader is left hangin’ and wondering.

    • Lorraine Pearl

      January 31, 2013 at 9:08 pm

      That’s great that you enjoyed those books enough to read them repeatedly. The only books I ever did that with were Anne Rice’s. I think most people are probably like you and as long as a book hooks them, it doesn’t matter how long. Wish I was like that, but it’s rare for me. Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

  3. Michelle Proulx

    February 1, 2013 at 11:22 am

    I usually prefer mid-length books — so, approximately 100k words. That being said, epic fantasy books can stretch to three or four times that and I have no problem with it, as long as said epic fantasy is good. Like you, I get really annoyed with long chapters, especially when I’m lying in bed and think, “Okay, I get one chapter before I sleep”. But if the chapter stretches on for ten thousand words, then it becomes 3 in the morning and then I’m exhausted the next day. So, relatively short chapters = good, long books = good (so long as the book is good!).

    • Lorraine Pearl

      February 1, 2013 at 7:32 pm

      Hi Michelle, thanks for stopping by and for commenting. I know you’re right that 100,000 is probably mid-length, especially in the fantasy world, but for me that is almost always too long. I think I’m in the minority with that, though.

      I know what you mean about reading a chapter before bed. I hate when that happens. Sometimes it will make me so frustrated with the book that I won’t finish the chapter and I’ll shelve the book for a while–unless it is too good to give up on.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

Rose-Marie Sorokin

Yoga, meditation, spirituality, writing, retreats, super health

Specializing In Romance Cover Art

C.M. Blackwood

The Journal of a Delusional Writer

Nail Your Novel

Nail Your Novel - Writing, publishing and self-publishing advice from a bestselling ghostwriter and book doctor

Corey D. Truax

Author | Editor | Father of Thor | Veteran | Military Spouse

Author Don Massenzio

Independent Authors Unite!

Skinny and Single

Single and Almost 50 and Not Suicidal About It


for writers and readers....


"There is nothing to writing. All you have to do is sit down at a typewriter - and bleed." Ernest Hemingway

Writer's Treasure Chest

A blog for authors, about authors, written by an author

Colleen Chesebro ~ The Fairy Whisperer

YA Fantasy Novelist & Fairy Prose Metrist

The Last Krystallos

Its those silly dreams that keep us alive...


Handmade jewelry and wedding decoration


The Adventures of a Blonde Writer

Girl Meets Monster

Writing, Reading, and Helpful Hints for Dating in the Underworld

Nicholas C. Rossis

Award-winning, dream-protecting author

Circles of Gemstones

Enjoying & understanding semiprecious gemstone jewelry

Romance Debuts

There's nothing like a new romance

Stevie Turner

I'm a medical secretary with writerly aspirations. I tell it like it is.

Archer's Aim

The speculative fiction of P. H. Solomon

Suffolk Scribblings

All is not quiet in the countryside

Bryn Donovan

tell your stories ~ love your life


Romance Author


Writer: Historical Detective Fiction; Contemporary Fiction; The International Sales Handbook. Writer for Hire


Did aliens visit ancient civilizations?


Writing, Publishing, and Marketing Ideas

Authors You Want to Read

Get to know new authors and books!



Authors Supporting Authors

Authors United to Make Dreams Come True.

Everything Indie

Supporting Indie Authors with Tips, Reviews, and Services

The Literary Game

Editing and Advice for Determined Writers

Penguin Blog

Thoughts and ideas from the world of Penguin

Confessions of a published author

Storyteller, Order of Merlin 1st Class, Master of Potions, Holder of the Golden Snitch, and Author of Infertility, Infidelity, and Insanity

Erotic Romance by Sascha Illyvich

Stories by the Gentleman Playboy of Romance

Kev's Great Indie Authors

Supporting Indie Authors Worldwide

Books: Publishing, Reading, Writing

And, for good measure, a bit of Cooking and Eating

Veronica Bale


Live to Write - Write to Live

We live to write and write to live ... professional writers talk about the craft and business of writing

Luke Young

Author of the Friends with Benefits Novels

Ian Dalton

Author of the Victoria Wilde Novels

Lit World Interviews

Share and Spread the Word About These Authors!

Skye Callahan

Feed the Darkness


Writing Mayhem

Atlanta's CW69

Atlanta's CW69

%d bloggers like this: