1. Sanehouse
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    Sanehouse New Member

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    A few odd questions about novels...

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Sanehouse, Jan 19, 2011.

    Last night, I sat down to read a novel (something which I haven't done in far too long), and I noticed several oddities about it. I've also noticed the same things in other novels, but now I'm really curious as to why it's done this way. I mean, there's got to be an actual explanation. Surely authors don't just follow a format without there being any reason behind it.

    1) What exactly is the prologue and epilogue used for?
    2) At the start of a new chapter, I noticed that the first few words of the sentence are capitalized, SORT OF LIKE THIS. Why is that?
    3) When a character's dialogue takes up more than one paragraph, the end of the first paragraph doesn't have any ", but both the end and start of the second paragraph has a ". Why?
    4) Sometimes, at the bottom of a page, there will be a "***". What does that mean? I always assumed that it was to signify that the very top of the next page is a new paragraph.

    Also, if anyone uses OpenOffice, do you know how to configure it so that the screen looks exactly like it would if I was reading an actual novel? Down to the size of the area you type in, as well as the font name, font size, etc?

    Thanks in advance!
     
  2. Youniquee
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    Youniquee (◡‿◡✿) Contributor

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    1.To set the back story of a novel and an epilogue is what happened to the characters after the story.
    2. Haha, I'm reading a book atm that does this. I think it's just a kind of style.
    3.Sorry, I have no idea on that one.
    4.It's a chapter break. To signify a new scene.
    Hope that helped!
     
  3. Haribo Icecream
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    Haribo Icecream Member

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    The fresh " at the start of the new paragraph is abit like an indent, even though it follows one ... just showing that even though it's a new paragraph, it is still speech :)
     
  4. Cornflower
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    Cornflower Member

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    He asked why when a character's dialogue is more than one paragraph why the end of the paragraph doesn't have the " . To the OP its proably because the author forgot a character was talking.
     
  5. Terry D
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    Terry D Active Member

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    The quotation mark at the end of a paragraph is dropped to show that the same character is speaking in the next paragraph. It is one long quote it doesn't end until you see a close quote.

    "What's with all these quotation marks? I mean sometimes we use one, and the next time we don't.

    "I think it's confusing."

    It's just proper usage.
     
  6. Melzaar the Almighty
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    Melzaar the Almighty Contributing Member Contributor

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    And you leave off the " at the end of the first paragraph to show that the character will still be talking in the next. :)

    The all-caps at the beginning is just a style thing - I assume it's up to the writer to do it. I guess it goes back to the old printing back in the day when they set type - a lot of these things do. I wouldn't know anything more than that. :p

    Prologues and epilogues can be used in whatever way you want. They don't usually go neatly with the rest of the action - they're used a lot of the time to show either something chronologically different (either a flash-forward so the reader has something to look forward to, or a flash-back to set the scene in a way the writer couldn't do elsewhere in the book.) or with a different viewpoint character. Often a prologue won't seem to have much relevance to the novel until quite some way through. The epilogue is mostly just a time-skip ahead like, "3 months later..." to see how everyone's doing after the main action is over, and are used a lot less than prologues, because most stories wrap up quite nicely without the need of one. Can sometimes be used to throw in a last joke or something instead: think the last scene in Pirates of the Caribbean, with the monkey. :p (yes I know that isn't in a book but it's past midnight and it IS a good example... :p)

    The stars (or star, or whatever else symbols) are just scene breaks - there's no need to use one before a chapter change as either you're making a page break, or at least the chapter title will follow. If you're not using chapter titles, it makes sense to use them, though. Like, instead of writing "chapter 1, chapter 2" as you go, just use the stars. Don't use them for all scene breaks in this case - most of them should just be a double space, and then onto the next scene. I use them as hard breaks, such as a large time skip, character change, etc. If it's just a short time skip or the thought follows on from one scene to another (in my writing by "thought" I mean "joke" and so it's pretty important :p) I'll only do a double space. I get the feeling that using chapter headings, stars and double spaces all at once would get quite complicated to remember the system of when you want to use each.

    As for formatting, if you mean to format it for professional reasons, it's better to look up how to format a manuscript, not to try and make it look like it does on the page in the finished version. I'm sure there's a guide somewhere around this forum. :)
     
  7. EineKleine
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    EineKleine Member

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    Haha are you reading Atlas Shrugged? Actually a pretty good book, if you can get through the twenty page speeches hahaha!
     
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  8. popsicledeath
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    popsicledeath Banned

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    Symbols are when a scene breaks at a page break. Middle of the page, just double space. But there's no way to tell a scene just ended if the page ended, and it will seem to continue on the next page even if it's a new scene, so you put a symbol.

    Traditionally it was a "#" as that was the symbol used to indicate to a type setter there needed to be a space added (instead of just leaving a space, which could be confusing).

    With electronic formats, while submitting a manuscript or while working with a draft, it's not unheard of to put a "#" between all scenes since formatting can change during conversion or printing.

    People get fancy with different symbols, which is perfectly acceptable and up to the publisher, agent and writer to decide, but it's usually a good idea to put in such symbols unless it meets the scene breaking at a page break criteria. I've seen writers try to do all sorts of things, 1 symbol for a small break in time and 3 for a large one, etc, but it can all look pretty amateurish if you're trying to use various symbols as a means of informing how much time has passed between scenes instead of simply grounding the new scene in the new time/place and establishing the passage of time through context.
     
  9. thirdwind
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    thirdwind Contributing Member Contest Administrator Reviewer Contributor

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    As Youniquee already stated, it's basically what happens before and after the story. Most of the time you don't need a prologue, however.

    It's the publisher's choice, that's all.

    Splitting the paragraph makes long chunks of dialogue easier to read. Not including quotes after the end of the first paragraph means that the speaker has not changed.

    This means there's a scene break.
     
  10. The Degenerate
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    The Degenerate Active Member

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    My favorite thing about novels is the scent of fresh paperback.
     
  11. Mallory
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    Mallory Mallegory. Contributor

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    The ### thing means it's a scene break; not a new chapter, but more than just a new paragraph.

    Prologues, in my opinion, have more cons than pros. Just make it a Chapter One. People often associated prologues with boring intros, therefore skipping them.

    Yes I've read Atlas Shrugged -- several times, in fact -- I know I'm a nerd for it but I think it's awesome.
     
  12. Elgaisma
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    Elgaisma Contributing Member Contributor

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    With OpenOffice you can adjust page sizes, lines etc under format page and format paragraph/
     
  13. jwatson
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    jwatson Active Member

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    1) To be honest I do not know exactly. I know for sure that neither are necessary for a novel. I think the prologue is just what sets up the novel. It's like an event or scene before the chapters begin that kind of introduce the story, I guess? I have never read a book with an epilogue. . . I know they exist though. Sorry I can't be more helpful.

    2)I would think my guess is right for this one. It depends on the publisher. There is no specific rule or anything like that. In fact, I notice this more in young adult fiction, like Harry Potter for example. There is no set in stone rule for this and you do not need to worry about it.

    3) That is just the way it goes. I think it is a punctuation/grammar rule for literature. Again, I see you being curious, but it's nothing big that you need to dwell on. Just a rule. (I think, at least . . .)
    4)I saw this a lot in Harry Potter. I think it signifies a slight break in a chapter. For example, if a new day is going to start, or a new week or whatever, the author or publisher will choose to put those there.


    I don't use OpenOffice, sorry! I hope I helped.

    J
     
  14. popsicledeath
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    popsicledeath Banned

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    No really, sometimes it's beneficial to know the actual reasons for the way things are done (or 'supposed' to be done) in a book. The symbols indicating scene breaks are because the scene breaks at a page break. If a publisher wants to do something more expressive with such a practice, that's fine, but the industry standard is simply scene breaks at page breaks require an additional indicator, so a symbol is put in.
     
  15. Islander
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    Islander Contributing Member Contributor

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    To add some story that occurs before/after the main story, but isn't necessary for it.

    I think it's a bad idea to use the prologue to provide backstory. You want to catch the reader's interest and get them into the main story as quickly as possible. It's also too easy for a writer to use the prologue as a huge infodump for everything they can't / are too lazy to work into the main story.
     
  16. Spacer
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    Spacer Active Member

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    I was taught that this is OK and optional. I decided to use it (consistently) because it adds information. Without the cue, the default is to assume that each paragraph alternates speakers. With is, it is an explicit indication of continuation.

    Easy. Work in the "Styles and Formatting" window. With the Paragraph styles listed, right-click on "default" and chose "Modify...".

    On the Font tab, choose the font for your main use. This should be a serifed font, not too narrow. Times (the default) is common for newspaper columns. Bookman, New Cent. Schoolbook, or the like is more normal for books. Garamond is also nice.

    If you don't have anything in mind already, I'd suggest downloading the free "Gentium Basic" family (not the "Plus").

    In a similar way, "Modify..." the "Text body" paragraph style. On "Indents and Spacing" set some amount for "First line indent" and reset the "Space After" to zero.

    On the "Text Flow" tab, still on "Text body" style, turn on Window and Orphan control.

    Next, switch to the Page Styles list on the Styles window. Edit the "Default". On the "Page" tab, set the Width and Height of the pages. Set "Page layout" to "Mirrored", and then set the margins.

    You'll need some sample text to span at least two pages, so paste in some junk paragraphs. Setting up the header and footer is something you can figure out from there.

    Finally, delete the junk except for any features you do want to keep in every novel, and "text goes here" in the correct style. Then under the File menu, the Templates submenu, "Save..." and choose a name, say "Novel printed".

    Now, to create a new project, File menu, "New", then "Templates and Documents", and choose your saved template.

    I set up mine for editing nicely, not to exactly look like a printed book. You can swap out templates to do one or the other!
     
  17. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    mallory... AS is probably my favorite novel of all time... i've read it several times, once had a first edition, and would read it again, if i still had a copy... glad to meet a fellow rand fan... hugs, m
     
  18. Reggie
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    Reggie I Like 'Em hot "N Spicy Contributor

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    My instructor always tells me never to use the *** as a scene break. She said even though I'm entering another scene, the readers would know that the POV character changes. It's kind of hard for me to believe that though.
     
  19. digitig
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    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

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    Lots of possible reasons. The prologue is often used as a "teaser" to set up some immediate tension, and is probably something particularly interesting from before or during the story. Then maybe the author can start chapter one with something more slowly paced that they feel suits the story better. An epilogue might tie up loose ends by perhaps showing how things had unfolded long after the story. But really how (and whether) to use them is down to your own imagination.
    Because somebody likes the look of it.
    As others have pointed out, it's the established rule. The quotes don't close at the end of the paragraph because the quote hasn't finished. The quote mark at the beginning of the next paragraph is a reminder that it's still speech.
    A division more than a paragraph but less than a chapter.
     

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