1. tcol4417
    Offline

    tcol4417 Member

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2009
    Messages:
    31
    Likes Received:
    16
    Location:
    Sydney, AU

    Mid-chapter breaks in quick succession

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by tcol4417, Mar 31, 2011.

    Note: This is for manuscript purposes because I'd like to format this the way a publisher expects to receive it.

    So typically you find breaks internal to a chapter like this.

    * * *​

    And I understand that they're a means of changing scenes or denoting the passage of time, but what about if a given passage contains several quick changes to different scenes?

    I think putting scene breaks in between so few paragraphs would look kind of ugly, but I'm not sure what the arrangement is as far as grammatical correctness goes. Would a double-space between paragraphs work? Is that even allowed, professionally?

    On that note, how would you work with rapidly switching between two or three scenes taking place simultaneously? The first example that comes to mind is the last action sequences of Star Wars: The Phantom Menace and The Return of the Jedi. There were four and three different scenes going on at the same time there and I doubt each cut would have been worth a chapter each in book form.

    Edit: It's supposed to be the same character in all three scenes being grilled by different antagonists. Film-wise you'd see the MC standing in the same position as the antag. and environment changed around them with no smooth transition. I use indentations in Word, but it's just too much trouble to use them here (it is possible to centre text in the advanced posting options). I seem to have worked something out for the meantime, but further advice is welcome.
     
  2. madhoca
    Offline

    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2008
    Messages:
    2,527
    Likes Received:
    88
    Location:
    the shadow of the velvet fortress
    It is difficult to show format here because we can't indent. Usually each paragraph is indented 5 spaces, but because I can't do that I've had to leave a blank line. For a break in scene, I was always taught to put a centered hash symbol (some people put an asterisk). Because I can't centre it, it's on the left below.

    The writing looks very disjointed, unless this the effect you are deliberately aiming after. I can't see any connection between the characters, but it's only a small sample you've given, of course. Just the first bit should be about the same male character; that 'you' thrown in there doesn't help cohesion any.

    I often have scenes like this when I'm planning, but later I integrate scenes as much as possible so that in, say, a 3,200 word chapter I don't have more than 2-3 breaks, and often I don't have any because the whole chapter is one scene.

    Suggestions for paragraph format and breaks below:

    Getting through the day was always hell. From beginning to end, it was an uphill slog on a downhill slope with no finish line, tunnel light or hope-filled metaphor to ease his despair.

    Breakfast was like his last meal, again and again and again.

    "Hurry up," said his father. "I'm not leaving until I know that your useless carcass is out the door and I'm damned if you're going to make me late."
    #
    His supervisor glared down at him from the cubicle entrance.

    "I don't care about what happens outside this building, what I care about is having everyone at their desks in a prompt and reliable fashion. If you can't get here five minutes before your shift starts like everyone else, then you shouldn't bother getting here at all."
    #
    The boss pushed his silver spectacles up his parchment-skinned nose for the fifth time, examining the stack of papers arranged on his ebony desk for the seventh.

    "I see that you have been nominated for review five times," he intoned dryly. "How you escaped scrutiny before now is beyond me. Consider this your final warning."
     
  3. digitig
    Offline

    digitig Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 21, 2010
    Messages:
    2,502
    Likes Received:
    79
    Location:
    Orpington, Bromley, United Kingdom, United Kingdom
    There's no issue of grammatical correctness; this is not a matter of grammar. If you want to make things seem choppy (a valid stylistic choice) then you've already done it with the scene changes. Putting in section breaks doesn't make it any uglier, it just helps the reader. If you think it's ugly with the section breaks then the problem is the writing, not the breaks.
    A script is not the same as a novel, but anyway a chapter is as long or as short as the writing demands. As is a section of a chapter.
     
  4. Finhorn
    Offline

    Finhorn Senior Member

    Joined:
    Mar 29, 2011
    Messages:
    157
    Likes Received:
    7
    Location:
    Mesa, AZ
    Because you only have two settings I think that one in italics and the other in plane text would work best. Then you have a visual cue that something different is happening.

    I'd also like to see it spread over one chapter, but not the whole book. Then I'd have to look at the thing as a whole to see if it looked funny.
     
  5. madhoca
    Offline

    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2008
    Messages:
    2,527
    Likes Received:
    88
    Location:
    the shadow of the velvet fortress
    As the OP is asking about normal manuscript format, I think I should point out that presenting with italics is not standard practice. You should not rely on putting meaning across with font type or italic use.
     
  6. tcol4417
    Offline

    tcol4417 Member

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2009
    Messages:
    31
    Likes Received:
    16
    Location:
    Sydney, AU
    This is less about how the writing flows and more about formatting (not grammar, thank you).

    What you see in the quote box is just something I threw together to illustrate the problem I'm having: I haven't read a book where this happens and if I have, I don't remember noticing something as jarring as a swarm of asterisks in quick succession.

    This -is- for manuscript purpose and again, is purely a regarding formatting, not writing style. I was just wondering if there was an explicit standard for this kind of thing.
     
  7. madhoca
    Offline

    madhoca Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Dec 1, 2008
    Messages:
    2,527
    Likes Received:
    88
    Location:
    the shadow of the velvet fortress
    ^^ In that case, another thing I forgot to emphasise is that the paragraph breaks should be only one #
    ### is what you put at the very end of the manuscript--or you type 'The End'.
     

Share This Page