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Acceptable Scene Breaks? (1 Viewer)

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TheMightyAz

Staff member
Mentor
I've always opted for the usual asterisks: '* * *' but I wondered if it's acceptable to mix other formats for different effects? I'm looking at the start of my novel and wondering if a simple space between the new paragraphs and the original beginning would solve a transition problem. It's really only a sense of 'passing time' that jumps out at me and I feel perhaps a line break could well do the trick. I'm not against breaking conventions and I'm not afraid to experiment but I would rather follow traditions if possible, especially at the very beginning when an editor/publisher may well be looking for something to make their work load easier for the day.

Just so you get an idea what I mean and a feel for the effect, I'll post the new paragraphs, use the space break and then post two paragraphs from the original. Don't worry about other critiques for now. I just want to know if this works or if it's acceptable:

Yarrod inhaled the hot desert air, unsure he’d filled his lungs with anything substantial. He held its fill for a good while, then breathed out slowly and felt the exhalation brush drying lips, once moist skin baked in seconds. The faint earthy scent of backwoods lingered in his nostrils; so at odds with the surrounding terrain, he regarded it more a memory than a sense.

He closed his eyes and clung on, but the aroma and the image it evoked evaporated. When he finally opened his eyes, the present spilled in, and erased any thought of another place or time. Ideas and memories—like scraps tossed to a well-trained mongrel for simple orders met—looped through his mind as if errant ideas in search of reason. And when all was done and settled, he knew but few things … and knew them well.



Although Yarrod suffered and hungered like any other man, the similarity ended there. No womb birthed him and no grave waited. The world evolved around him, despite him, and he borrowed what time he could to remind himself he was no ghost.

He craved absolution, but the devil beside him wore a lipless grin. In these wistful moments, he felt wretched, less a saviour and more a coward. However, the imperative that compelled him triumphed every time. A tracker, a hunter, a killer is all he was and would ever be.
 
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TheMightyAz

Staff member
Mentor
Don't they use centered hash marks (#) for scene breaks in traditional manuscript format? Like this:

#​
It can be hashtags or asterisks, and some people put three asterisks, but that's not the question. The question is is it ok to mix different scene break indicators AND (if it is) does this line break work as a way of creating the illusion of time passing?
 

Llyralen

Senior Member
It isn't enough for me. Asterisks do work. I also experimented with this. It can end up looking like a type-o of a double space, as if someone hit "return" too many times, and can be confusing. Without the asterisks there is no sense of time or place change, so I guess it's as effective as any of the methods we traditionally use to signal change in movies except it's short-hand in books. I wonder when and where it started.
A friend of mine actually makes mini chapters. Her tiny chapters seem very unconventional to me and I guess it comes across as kind of "quaint" to me. I haven't told her this because, after all, it works to make a transition as well. It doesn't negatively affect the readability.
 

TheMightyAz

Staff member
Mentor
It isn't enough for me. Asterisks do work. I also experimented with this. It can end up looking like a type-o of a double space, as if someone hit "return" too many times, and can be confusing. Without the asterisks there is no sense of time or place change, so I guess it's as effective as any of the methods we traditionally use to signal change in movies except it's short-hand in books. I wonder when and where it started.
A friend of mine actually makes mini chapters. Her tiny chapters seem very unconventional to me and I guess it comes across as kind of "quaint" to me. I haven't told her this because, after all, it works to make a transition as well. It doesn't negatively affect the readability.
I don't really want to smooth with writing though, it would mean adding in text that didn't contribute much, and so early on, it would be detrimental. I use asterisks for definite scene breaks, either a jump to another location or to another character. Here, I just want a sense that a little time as past between his appearance in the desert and his existence in it.
 

VRanger

Staff member
Administrator
Absolutely no one will understand extra line feeds, Az. They'll assume it's sloppy formatting, and nothing more.
.
.
.
You might get away with putting a period on each line.
 
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Llyralen

Senior Member
I don't really want to smooth with writing though, it would mean adding in text that didn't contribute much, and so early on, it would be detrimental. I use asterisks for definite scene breaks, either a jump to another location or to another character. Here, I just want a sense that a little time as past between his appearance in the desert and his existence in it.
Okay, that early on.... I HAVE seen some authors put 1-3 paragraphs in italics, almost as if it were a very short prologue. It seems to work and it isn't confusing.
 

TheMightyAz

Staff member
Mentor
Okay, that early on.... I HAVE seen some authors put 1-3 paragraphs in italics, almost as if it were a very short prologue. It seems to work and it isn't confusing.
I'd not considered italics. That might work. The reason I'm asking right now is I'm closing in on the end of scene 1 in chapter 2. I wanted to write it to better inform my jump back to where scene 2 ended in chapter 1. When I finish this scene, I intend to write a short story using the voice of Fiddlesticks, just to get to know him better and nail his syntax. Then I'll rewrite chapter 1 in it's entirety and finish chapter 2. That's the plan.
 

Terry D

Retired Supervisor
Traditionally, it is okay to use an extra space if you are skipping time but remaining with the same POV character. Asterisks or number signs (hash marks #) can be used when there is more of a change which needs to be conveyed, or when changing POV characters. If you plan to submit for traditional publication I'd look at the publisher's guidelines, or, if those are not available, stick with standard format. Final formatting will be done by the publisher, and editors are not impressed by authors who get creative with their formatting. If considering self-publishing, then anything goes.
 

TheMightyAz

Staff member
Mentor
Traditionally, it is okay to use an extra space if you are skipping time but remaining with the same POV character. Asterisks or number signs (hash marks #) can be used when there is more of a change which needs to be conveyed, or when changing POV characters. If you plan to submit for traditional publication I'd look at the publisher's guidelines, or, if those are not available, stick with standard format. Final formatting will be done by the publisher, and editors are not impressed by authors who get creative with their formatting. If considering self-publishing, then anything goes.
Oh, so it was a traditional way of differentiating between a jump in time and a jump in POV. That's good to know. I'll be attempting traditional publication so, as you say, I'll check out their guidelines before submitting. That's going to be well over a year away though.
 

Ralph Rotten

Staff member
Media Manager
Asteriscks are so 1984ish. Really, they smack of amateurism. Dump the things...or at least don;t use them in the published copy.
 
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