Sunday, March 15, 2015

Scene Breaks

You must indicate a scene break when one scene ends and another one begins. To do this, just leave a blank, one-line, horizontal space on the page by hitting the "Return" key twice. When I line edit a manuscript I indicate places where the writer should insert a scene break with this notation:

---------- 1# ----------

You must insert a scene break whenever:

  • The narrative point of view moves to a different character from the one in the previous scene
  • A significant amount of time passes between one scene and the next
  • A different set of characters enters the story
  • The characters have moved to a different setting from the previous scene 

No rules, dashes, or dingbats of any kind should be placed in the white space of a scene break unless the scene ends at the bottom of a page. When that happens insert three asterisks (*), centered on the page, with five spaces between each one, at the bottom of the page or at the top of the next one to alert readers to the break. 


 Paul Thayer
Your Book Editor