If you’ve been in the writing game for any length of time you’ll know that word count is a common topic of conversation. How long should a novel be, or a chapter, or (in our case) a serial fiction? With the current rise in serial fiction amongst the online reading community, we decided to get to the bottom of the question: What should the word count of serial fiction be?
In Short: Serial fiction word count will depend upon the number of chapters or episodes in the work. The average serial may have as high as over a million words (like Worm) or as low as 15,000 words. Serial fiction that is told over fewer episodes may be as short as 17,000 words. Serial fiction that is told over a longer period of time and many episodes could be into the hundreds of thousands of words.
At the end of the day, serial fiction is as long or as short as you want it to be. It’s a bit like a TV show but without having to wait for a greenlight on renewals.
Length will likely be closely associated with how you think of your serial. If you were to package the serial as a book would it be a novella? How about a novel? Maybe a series of novels? Knowing this can help you understand roughly how many words you should be preparing to write.
Episode or Chapter Length of Serials
This will also vary by platform. Wattpad readers, for example, expect between 1,000 and 3,000 words on average. Readers on Kindle Vella also seem to gravitate toward this number based on experience alone, however, the writers have the option to go up to 5,000 words per episode.
No matter what, you should pick an average word count word and stick to it. (You’ll also want to ensure each chapter ends on a cliffhanger.) It could be worth it to stretch the word count slightly if it ends on a better cliffhanger.