1. BookLover
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    BookLover Contributing Member

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    Simple (stupid?) Question about Scene Breaks in Short Stories

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by BookLover, Jun 2, 2014.

    While working on a novel, when I start an entirely new scene I usually start a new chapter.

    But what do I do in a short story? I have a short story book next to me as I type, and this author split the story into parts. I. II. III. IV. V. and so forth. Is this typical? Or should I just put extra space between the sections to signify a change in scene?
     
  2. TWErvin2
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    TWErvin2 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Most authors have scene breaks. Almost never chapters. Part 1, 2, 3, is a structure that can be used, depending on the story.

    But unless there is a reason, I'd stick with scene breaks. It's what I do with my short stories and it's what was used when I edited for a small magazine for a few years a while back.

    If you intend to submit the story to markets, most of the time a scene change is denoted with a centered #.
     
  3. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    You can also just achieve scene breaks in the writing, without any specific markings. Example:

    Jane shook her head. "No way. I'm going home to feed my cat his meds."

    Andrew said, "So meet me after. I'll be at Jake's at 5:30, just in time to get one more cocktail before happy hour is over."

    A pause. A sigh. Finally, Jane said, "Fine. But you're buying."

    But he didn't buy. He didn't even show up. Jane walked into Jake's at 5:25 to find it deserted--just the bartender, the karaoke wrangler, and a busboy polishing glasses. No sign of Andrew.
     
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  4. BookLover
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    BookLover Contributing Member

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    Thanks for the replies!

    Yeah, I would like to achieve scene breaks without any markings, but so far my writing hasn't lent itself to that.

    I think I'll use the centered # thing for now. Thanks!
     
  5. xanadu
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    xanadu Contributing Member Contributor

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    I used to use scene breaks a lot but I've come to prefer natural transitions in the writing, much like @ChickenFreak's example. But there's definitely nothing wrong with scene breaks, even in short stories--even the classic ones have them.
     
  6. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    if you are going to submit the ms to a paying venue [magazine/literary journal], the standard/expected line break format is to place a single # in the center of the line and have no blank lines before or after it, in the double-spaced ms...

    but if you're submitting to a self-publishing venue where the ms will simply be uploaded into an e-book/story and doesn't need to be formatted first per the venue's submission guidelines, you would leave the line blank, as that's how it will appear in the online version...

    as for the need of scene breaks, that depends on the story... a short short probably won't need any... but a longer piece, with time gaps, changes in setting, characters, etc. would certainly call for them, just as they're needed in the chapters of novels...
     

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