1. Victorian girl
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    Victorian girl Member

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    Scene breaks in a novel?

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by Victorian girl, Jul 15, 2010.

    I have been reading that I need `scene breaks` in my novel but I`m still not clear what they are or why we need them. I know the suggested way is to insert # presumably before every scene change, am I right? lol.

    Yours confused.

    Michelle xx
     
  2. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    yes, when a line break is called for, you insert a single # in the center of the line, do not leave any lines blank...

    but don't overdo it... it's usually done only when the time frame changes, events take place in a new location, or the pov changes from one character to another...
     
  3. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Is your novel all one scene? If not, then there will be breaks between scenes. I just leave a couple of blank lines between scenes. Some people use a row of asterisks or pound signs. It doesn't matter how you do it, unless some publisher you submit to has a specific requirement.
     
  4. Victorian girl
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    Victorian girl Member

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    Thanks both of you. How I have never read about that system before in the book I have about how to write a novel I don`t know. Anyway, thanks to you I now know. Great site with very helpful people.

    xx
     
  5. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    Generally, "How to write a novel" books are a waste of money and time. You'll learn far more by reading good novels, and reading them critically.

    However, there is a lot you can find online about technical aspects like proper manuscript format, including scene breaks (section breaks).

    Maia, as usual, is right on the mark. But check the submission guidelines for each publisher you intend to submit to, because there odd exceptions abound.
     
  6. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    that's a no-no for standard ms format... the only blank lines should be between chapters, none left between paragraphs...

    it does matter if you want to be seen as a pro, whether you are one or not... the standard for mss is a single #...

    though publishers will often use blank spaces or other symbols in the printed book, that doesn't mean they want you to go against standard practice in your ms... if they did, they'd say so in their submission guidelines...

    if no mention is made of that specifically, then you'd be wise to stick to what most of the pros do...
     
  7. lynca
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    lynca Member

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    Not if you don't know what to look for.

    When I started writing after years of reading novels, I had no clue about a POV drift or any of the other techniques. I had no idea how to get my character out of the door of a room and into another without boring my readers to death.

    The three published authors in my critique group attended classes to learn the craft of writing, and each has a huge library of how-tos. As one said while addressing our group after her first book was published, "Even if you just learn one thing from a how-to, the expense is worth it."

    Then each, in turn, talked about techniques they'd learned such as scene & sequel and what goes in each, what's critical in a first chapter, plus many other things that helped them on the road to professionalism.

    I listened and learned. Personally, I don't see a thing wrong with whatever method I might choose to help me improve, especially how-tos written by published authors. Doctors go to school and they learn in classes as well as books. Same with lawyers or any other profession. Each profession has techniques that can be learned and applied. Why not with writing? Worked for the three authors, and based on their recommendations, I started reading as well, and now, finally, two agents have requested partials.

    So please, use whatever method that will help you learn. There's no shame in reading books, attending classes, writing conferences, or anything else that will help you. After all, years of lessons and practice honed Van Cliburn's natural piano talent into world-wide recognition and honors. He didn't just suddenly sit at the piano and think he could become an international star.
     
  8. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    The problem is, by the time you can sort out the bad advice and personal biases from the solid advice, you already know the material well enough not to need the book.
     
  9. Fantasy of You
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    Fantasy of You Banned

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    There's a certain dislike for writing classes among the fledging writer's community. I think it has something to do with incorrectly connecting classes with the saying 'you don't need qualifications to write.'

    Classes help people who need help, whether they are affected by bias or not. The problem is, while writing classes can make okay writers good, they can neither make bad writers okay nor good writers great.
     
  10. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    i recommend taking a class or two, when a mentee's work is so lacking in the basic skills that it's the only alternative i can see to their giving up on writing altogether...
     
  11. lynca
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    lynca Member

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    Wow. I don’t understand the prejudices here. I’m not trying to be rude, but to those of you who show such distain for classes or how-tos, do you have anything, a novel, a short story, published by a major magazine or publisher? If so, I’ll quietly cease my comments. If not, I’ll continue to follow the advice from my friends who’ve published with:

    Kensington Books
    Leisure
    Harlequin/Silhouette

    While I’ve read extensively for most of my life, my ego isn’t so big that I disregard suggestions – and advice - from others who’ve acquired experience and knowledge of the business. I want to be a published novelist and I’ll do what it takes. If I can learn even one more technique from a class or how-to that will help me present my material more effectively, then I’ll do it and I can’t see the problem.

    To all of you who have welcomed me here, thank you, but I do not belong here. I'm looking for a forum to help writers achieve their dreams and goals, to chat and to share knowledge and information. A forum with such prejudices against book learnin' is not it. In my eyes, the only prejudices should be against scam agents and publishers and we should al be warned about them.

    Thanks and good-bye.
     
  12. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    No, we just disagree about what is effective "book learnin'." Instead of listening to people writing about writing, you are better off examining examples of good writing.

    It may not be as easy, but you won't be led down blind alleys by swallowing every profound-sounding bit of advice offered by a how-to author.
     
  13. Wreybies
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    Wreybies The Ops Pops Operations Manager Staff Contest Administrator Supporter Contributor

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    How about we try and all take a walk around the block and cool off. This is not a subject that should incite such a reaction.
     
  14. zaffy
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    zaffy Contributing Member

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    It is the wrong forum for you if you do not want black and white facts and opinions.
    There are people here who really know their stuff.
    If you want a nice fuzzy grey chat then try elsewhere.

    I remember listening to a radio programme where an author (sorry can't rember who it was) said he had tried, before he was publised, creative writing lessons, they did not help him one jot. So, he just sat at home wrote a book and it sold millions.

    This person was born to write, could do it naturally. Now, me, I have learned loads from creative writing classes and forums such as this.

    However, I have not learned one thing from relatives, friends and people who tread carefully.
     

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