Lessons Learned in Direct Publication: Scene Breaks


I’ve been talking about how to handle formatting a manuscript for direct publication for print. We’ve discussed Front Matter; The Body of the Manuscript. Today I’m discussing Scene Breaks.

In reviewing books out there for sale I noticed something very interesting about how publishers formatted the breaks between scenes. When the scene’s change at the bottom or very top of a page there is a symbol inserted to indicate the change of scene. Because when that change occurs at the ending of a page or the beginning of the next it’s important to warn the reader of that transition. It doesn’t matter if the symbol is at the bottom of the page or at the top.  Often four **** formatted in BOLD are sufficient. I found a symbol that ties into the theme of my story. The symbol was followed by an extra empty line.

However, when the scene changed in the middle of a page there was a different treatment. The change was preceded by an empty line. Then the first few words of the first sentence of the new scene was formatted through the font drop down function where you check “small capital”.  Then those words selected would change to small capital letters.

Naturally any formatting of this nature with scene breaks etc has to be the last touch of formatting. If anything else changes after this it might change where the scene break is positioned thereby changing whether you need a symbol to mark the break or just the change to small capital font.

More later on Headers/Footers and End Matter also the value of Advanced Reader’s Copy as well as formatting for Kindle.

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