1. RockyMtn.Wheelz
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    RockyMtn.Wheelz Member

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    chapters / section breaks

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by RockyMtn.Wheelz, Nov 16, 2007.

    In writing a short story ( or possibly even a novel), when are chapter or section breaks necessary or important? This may be a newbie question but to a good degree I am one.
     
  2. lordofhats
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    lordofhats Contributing Member

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    I would say its up to you where you put chapter or section breaks. I go with the "its over when its over" approach to chapter and section breaks.

    There are some basic concepts behind section breaks and chapters that I use. I would have a section or chapter break whenever I switch your point of view, enter a memory or a flashback, and whenever I make a jump from one series of related events to another series of related events (As in the series of events leading to a climatic battle for example, chapter break, the series of events comprising the battle itself).

    Examples:
    -Swtiching from what Kerry thinks of her date with Jack to what Jack thinks of his date with Kerry
    -Bob remembering a childhood event that had a profond effect on his life
    -If Joe is in a car driving from Washington DC to San Fransisco I want a section or chapter breaks there.

    This is just how I do it though.

    I've seen books where there are no section breaks. Often there can be a transition paragraph between events that simply says "It took Joe thriteen days to reach his destination. Along the way he stopped at several hotels, and saw a few tourist attractions." Something like that can work just as well as section breaks when jumping from one event to the next.

    I have never seen one but there is probably someone out there who never even has a chapter break once in their book. For chapters I just wait till I feel like its necessary to end an event or series of directly related events (I guess they call it a scene) before moving on to the next. I honestly just keep going till I feel like there is a good place to stop writing and end a chapter.

    I would say it is up to you and how you organize your story. Some writers have a new chapter every two or three pages. Some have one every sixty or seventy+ pages. Its up to you how you organize it. I suggest going with the flow. If you feel the need to add a break add it.
     
  3. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    I looked around for a concise summary of what a chapter should be. I found an article Writing Chapters and Scenes that states it quite nicely:
    The article also states:
    I don't claim that this article is definitive, but these remarks cover the essence of what a chapter is in line with how I understand it.

    I've certainly seen plenty of novels that aren't organized into chapters by these guidelines. Sometimes chapter breaks seem to be placed at where the author thinks the reader will be fatigued enough to need a break, as a convenient place to place a bookmark between reading sessions. Chapter title seem to be drifting out of style, perhaps reflecting the fact that chapters tend to be less cohesive than they used to be.
     
  4. Charisma
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    Charisma Transposon Contributor

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    After agreement and virtual repetition of those who have replied above, I'll add that I find it better to add a chapter break at the most intense point. To introduce suspense and urge to the read the other chapter. If I were to publish my own book I would surely leave one page in between two chapters to retain suspense longer. At least I think it would show significant separation between two chapters. I prefer medium sized chapters, a big block of writing with no stopping can get to me. But I guess that's personal preference.
     
  5. Daniel
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    Daniel I'm sure you've heard the rumors. Founder Staff Contributor

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    Some more general advice as opposed to that above is to break chapters when it naturally fits. There isn't a standard for how long a chapter should be or when one should end, so do whichever you feel the most comfortable with.
     
  6. blimsiang
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    blimsiang New Member

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    Hmmm..

    Me and my friend were going crazy over this topic as well, just a couple of days ago. Does anyone actually know the proper, technical name of a section break?

    We're (me and my friend) assuming that there's a difference between a Chapter and a section break, the latter appearing so:
    ..::~~~::..​
    Or a repeated design of the sort.

    So. Back to the question. What's the name of a section break?
     
  7. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    as far as i know, it's just called a 'line break'... and the simpler done, the better... a single # placed in the center of the line is the best way to do it, imo... it annoys the heck out of me when a mentee sends me a work with a string of whatevers or fancier stuff like you used as an example... it's visually intrusive, thus disrupts the reader's 'involvement' in the story, imo...
     

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