1. Taillin
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    Taillin Member

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    Changing Settings

    Discussion in 'Setting Development' started by Taillin, Nov 24, 2013.

    Hi guys,

    This probably seems dumb but I still need to ask. I was wondering what the correct (or nicest way) to transition between immediate settings and events. An example of this would be like changing perspectives and settings. Should I just start a new paragraph or should I physically mark it with something like '***' or with a 'meanwhile'

    An example would be:

    'John Doe strolled out of his university class and breathed in the warm night air. He checked his text messages in the campus plaza before making his way to his car

    Jane Doe furiously tapped away at the digital console until it accepted her password and granted her admittance. She slipped into the lab quietly later spotting the hard drive she'd spent so much time hunting for.'


    I know there isn't a set in stone way to do this I just wanted to know if there's a way that is 'best' because the above layout looks 'blah' to me. In my story the events are happening at the same time, but that fact isn't critical to the story.


    Thanks for your help in advance!
     
  2. Aurin
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    Aurin Member

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    I physically mark it with * if it's the same character's perspective but different times and settings.

    I would make it a whole new chapter if it's changing both the perspective and time.
     
  3. Taillin
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    Taillin Member

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    okay thanks, if anyone else feels similar or different feel free to comment!
     
  4. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    you seem to be referring to a 'line break' with your mention of asterisks... the long held standard for line breaks is a single # placed in the center of the line, with no blank lines above or below... just the usual double-spacing...

    line breaks are commonly used when the setting or time changes... whether you use a line break, or start a new chapter is up to you...

    the best way to learn how/when to do either is by seeing how successful novelists do it... all you need do is pick up any 3 novels by decent writers you have on your bookshelf and check it out for yourself...
     
  5. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Note: This (a single centered hash mark on an otherwise blank line) is what you do in manuscript - which is the medium that every writer should be thinking in terms of. What you see in the final published work is different, and is a poor guide to what is good for submission.
     
  6. Cynglen
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    Cynglen Senior Member

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    Hi Taillin,

    Are you against putting a "Meanwhile" or "Later" at the start of your second block there? I'm not sure how dramatic of a separation the two events need, but if they are somewhat related I don't see why those qualifiers are out of the question.
     
  7. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    yes, definitely!

    as both an editor and a writer, i'd consider them out of the question on the basis of being cliché and amateurish...
     
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  8. Taillin
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    Taillin Member

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    I don't plan on using tether words like "meanwhile" or "At the same time" because the events are completely independent and unknown to the characters involved (of each others actions) thanks for your input so far
     
  9. jannert
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    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

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    In your example, it might be helpful to indicate (briefly) the new setting. Such as: In the corridor outside the computer lab, Jane Doe tapped away...etc. That way we'll know right away that we're not still with John Doe and his car.

    The most important thing when writing a transition is to make it clear. I agree with @mammamaia that "meanwhile, back at the ranch" and other transitional phrases like that will signal "Amateur at Work." Better just to be straightforward with the setting, character and/or time change, so the reader gets transported into the new scene without fanfare or confusion.
     
  10. Burlbird
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    Burlbird Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think it has a lot to do with the actual dynamics of prose that you choose. If you choose to do exactly as you wrote it (a guy is doing something here, the girl is doing something else elsewhere) there is no place for line breaks: you are just rapidly changing the focal character. Whether they are in the same situation (same place and time) or on the other side of the globe and 1,000 years apart, matters not (well, it matters as far as you are able to hold such a scene coherent). It can still be the same scene: prose scenes are not limited by changing time, space and characters, like their theatrical counterparts are.
     

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