Formatting for scene breaks

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yoyo123
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Formatting for scene breaks

Postby yoyo123 » Fri Nov 13, 2015 8:09 am

Can anyone tell me the proper way to format a scene break in a short story? Should I just put a centered hash on it's own line between scenes, or is there some other accepted norm? Do I need any blank lines in between sections? Sorry if this is obvious, Dr. Google seems to have multiple answers for me.

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disgruntledpeony
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Re: Formatting for scene breaks

Postby disgruntledpeony » Fri Nov 13, 2015 8:58 am

http://www.sfwa.org/2008/11/manuscript-preparation/

This recommends the hash on its own line with no extra spaces; you can center it or not as you so choose. (I prefer to center it, myself, but that's just me.)
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kentagions
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Re: Formatting for scene breaks

Postby kentagions » Fri Nov 13, 2015 9:22 am

Hi yoyo123,
The answer depends on your definition of "scene." If you remain in the same POV, but simply move to a different time or venue, no break is necessary. However, the prose should indicate passage of time and reestablish place. I have also seen POV switch between very well defined characterizations without breaks, but the reader must never be confused about POV. (Most authorities discourage switching POV in short stories.) My definition of "scene" does not require a chapter break.

If there is a well defined end to an element of the story, and POV, time and/or setting change radically enough, then a chapter break may be necessary. A chapter break is created exactly as you suggest, one return, centered hash, one return, start new chapter.

Good luck,
Kent

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yoyo123
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Re: Formatting for scene breaks

Postby yoyo123 » Fri Nov 13, 2015 9:38 am

Thank you.

I'm not changing POV, I want to indicate the passage of time. I have a series of interactions that take place between two characters over a period of days, but I don't want to include unnecessary fluff about what happens in between.

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orbivillein
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Re: Formatting for scene breaks

Postby orbivillein » Fri Nov 13, 2015 10:38 am

A short-prose typescript publication custom uses two types of transition signals: a blank line break and a line break that contains one or a few nonce characters -- glyphs intended to not print -- or text art or "vignette."

Book-length prose typescript and publication format has book, chapter, and subchapter break customs additionally.

Nonce characters substitute for text art and possibly vignette glyphs a publisher may customarily use. The tilde is a nonce glyph example, ~, or ~~~, of a keyboard vignette-like glyph. Vignette's traditional meaning is a small vine. The tilde resembles a small vine, to signal narrative flow.

A strong transition customarily uses three glyphs to signal a publication format should print some kind of marks. The typesetter's single space glyph, #, signals the line should be typeset blank, is for soft transitions. The film and play script "jump cut" transition could be either strong or soft for those or for prose. The matter rests on how abrupt and how much difference between antecedent, transition steps, and subsequent content. Time elapsed is a measure; change in viewpoint, character, place, or situation, all the former, or one, too, of how abrupt and different the content to follow a blank line or marked line break transition.

Typescript -- also known as manuscript -- transition signal customs are similar to publication customs, only that decorative glyphs are less available to writers than typesetters and publishers, more available now, though.

For typescript format, a line intended to be blank, a typesetter's and proofreader's space glyph, #, also now known as hashtag for metadata label signal, and traditionally number sign and pound weight sign, signals the line is to be typeset blank. Typesetter and proofreader glyph for a blank line break, though is two space glyphs flush left, or proofreader marked on a margin. Three space gylphs centered means a decorative glyph is to be printed.

The prescriptive typescript custom to signal a blank line is one space glyph flush left on the line to be set blank. Variants include centered and up to three space glyphs flush left or centered. Others use asterisks, hyphens, plus signs, equals signs, carets, parentheses, braces, brackets, other nonce glyphs, etc., and sometimes combinations and may include alpha-numeral glyphs; e.g., <*>, [+], (Z), {1}, etc.

A transition break line that intends to print a decorative transition glyph customarily contains three space glyphs or other glyphs, like above. However, these customs and above have been mostly lost to individual tastes and because publications more and more do less and less design and typesetters are now more editor and word processor than type layout, design, and make-ready typesetter specialty.

Anyway, anymore, a typescript best ought to contain only glyphs as intended to be printed. No empty line marks, no stray marks at all. If a publisher wants to use a different glyph than, for example, three tildes to signal a strong transition, for decorative purposes, the house will resort to its customs. Otherwise, a typescript anymore ought best contain no stray marks.

Also, a typescript The End, the final transition break, its signal used to be a zero bracketed by a hyphen on each side. That custom is now long forgotten. Teletype The End was similar: numeral thirty bracketed by single hyphens, also now long forgotten. If a typescript or newspaper teletype contained the actual words, The End, that was taken to mean the words are intended to print. So the typesetter's The End: -0-
Last edited by orbivillein on Fri Nov 13, 2015 11:15 am, edited 6 times in total.

kentagions
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Re: Formatting for scene breaks

Postby kentagions » Fri Nov 13, 2015 10:53 am

Implied meaning is important for cutting word count; the "fluff" you're talking about. Many times, actions and changes in setting are implied. If a character says that she is going to the grocery store tomorrow and the next scene is in the grocery store, we need no chapter break or explanation of how she got there. The key is tipping off the time change or venue change, and then establishing the change quickly and smoothly as it is made.

The other consideration is mood. If the piece is intended to be rapid fire for a feeling of urgency, I'd say that chapter breaks are definitely the ticket. In this case, the cadence is important and you can establish a hammering effect with the use of stop consonants (d, b, p, t, k). On the other hand, if a smooth, comfortable feel is the aim, I'd nix the chapters.

Kent

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orbivillein
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Re: Formatting for scene breaks

Postby orbivillein » Fri Nov 13, 2015 12:47 pm

kentagions wrote:Implied meaning is important for cutting word count; the "fluff" you're talking about. Many times, actions and changes in setting are implied. If a character says that she is going to the grocery store tomorrow and the next scene is in the grocery store, we need no chapter break or explanation of how she got there. The key is tipping off the time change or venue change, and then establishing the change quickly and smoothly as it is made.

The other consideration is mood. If the piece is intended to be rapid fire for a feeling of urgency, I'd say that chapter breaks are definitely the ticket. In this case, the cadence is important and you can establish a hammering effect with the use of stop consonants (d, b, p, t, k). On the other hand, if a smooth, comfortable feel is the aim, I'd nix the chapters.

Kent

Astute insight: "implied." Empty line breaks are next in pause, signal, implication strength to paragraph breaks. If a transition is implied, like Mona said she had to see a woman about a horse stall, and the next segment is a negotiation at stable for a stall, an empty line break is sufficient to signal a change of scene. The transition is set up beforehand, implied, signaled, then followed through.

If the transition is stronger, like Mona has to see about a stall, elsewhere Mickey says he has to see a man about a horse, meanwhile, Mona sees a woman about a stall, and Mona's the logical next scene, timely, a marked line break is a signal the transition is stronger, then another marked line break for getting to Mickey's next scene. Mickey's seeing about a horse scene is held in suspension so that Mona's somewhat contemporaneous time event can be timely developed. This is useful for signaling a longer span of time or greater circumstance elapsed, for building tension from suspension, for implying Mona and Mickey share a circumstance that brings them into dramatic contact, and works if Mona and Mickey meet up at the stable or later or elsewhere for whatever dramatic action with which they will together contend.

Blank line breaks and marked line breaks work for long prose, too.

Informative to see how much pause or suspended time or transition and implication strength each type of white space or nonce mark or break signals, from short to long, soft to strong:

Word space
Clause space, and punctuation
Sentence space, punctuation too
Paragraph break
Blank line break
Marked line break
Section break (§ glyph signals transition)
Subchapter break, I-a, I-b . . .
Chapter break, I, II, III . . . XVI
Book break (books One, I, Two, II, Three, III, e.g., etc., within one unit)
Installment break (a nil- un-, bi-, tri-, quad-, pent-, hex-, sept-, oct-, enn-, dec- ology series' individual pieces: break per singly published unit)

amoskalik
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Re: Formatting for scene breaks

Postby amoskalik » Fri Nov 13, 2015 5:35 pm

This is a great discussion. Thank you all. I've been using the marked line break almost exclusively when often I should be using the blank line break.
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Dustin Adams
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Re: Formatting for scene breaks

Postby Dustin Adams » Sat Nov 14, 2015 3:13 am

Dave has said he prefers a single, centered # mark.

I doubt you'd lose points for not doing it that way, but as with any of his preferences, why do anything else?

On a side note, are his archived daily kicks gone for good?
I have links to a dozen of them. All give me the OOPS page now.

He had a "proper formatting" kick that I would have linked in this situation...
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Randy Hulshizer
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Re: Formatting for scene breaks

Postby Randy Hulshizer » Sat Nov 14, 2015 5:12 am

Dustin Adams wrote:Dave has said he prefers a single, centered # mark.

I doubt you'd lose points for not doing it that way, but as with any of his preferences, why do anything else?


I think this is solid advice. No need to over-complicate things.
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orbivillein
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Re: Formatting for scene breaks

Postby orbivillein » Sat Nov 14, 2015 10:58 am

I am an editor: copy, write, proofread, screen, design, layout, typeset, project, development, printer, bookmaker, book binder, sales, etc., etc. Been down the rabbit hole of editor education, training, and experience, so far at seven different publications, and a few presses, a graduate degree, and a university certificate in publishing specialties. This is me: editor, fifteen years in the field. Got into editing to enhance my writing skills and became a day-job livelihood.

Probably any given writer needs no over-complicated format or publication design knowledge, except self-publishers need some more savvy; after all, why not just let editors do the stuff and junk they do?

Possibly the single clearest reason -- one more or more edge's advantages above the wine-dark fray. A typescript formatted according to a publication's customs and general practice consumes fewer resources to prepare for publication and implies the writing itself makes similar efforts, recommends reading all on its own, or, alternatively, recommends automatic form rejection. Besides, a solid format, or whatever, might, could, should, ought appeal to a publisher's staff from how unobtrusive whatever, format, typeface, layout, grammar, style, etc., etc., are. Proficient format appearance, and all the rest, develop companionship and rapport between writer and publisher staff. So long as the story itself merits the attention.


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