If you hadn’t noticed …

It’s Monday, if you hadn’t noticed, and I should have had a post ready at my usual time (pre-dawn PST, if you hadn’t noticed.) Actually, I should have posted yesterday because I try to keep to an every-other-day schedule, if you hadn’t noticed. In either case, I failed, if … nah, I won’t say it again. So, you’re now reading another of my tip of the brain meanderings. This could get ugly.

Yeah, I wish ... for many reasons!

Despite the fact that I’ve started reading four different novels, I put them all aside to start reading my own. Initially, since I added a new first chapter and demoted the old one to second place, I planned to read just those, but then I thought, Why not? and printed out the whole book. I’m dismayed to see how many of those pretty pages have developed a case of strange red markings.

After almost five months away, I can read a bit more like a first-time reader. Enough to see a few sentences I thought were perfectly clear were not. Enough to spot a couple lapses in logical flow. Enough to see that I have an unseemly fondness for section breaks. Oh my.

I’ve always been unsure of my ability when it comes to section and chapter breaks, though I think I’m okay on paragraph breaks. (But now, of course, I’m wondering if I should recheck those too.) Whenever I doubt my formatting, I pull a dozen or so novels from my shelves to see how the pros do it. Do you do this too?

Sometimes I read a book that uses both double-drops and breaks denoted by some little squiggle. That confuses me. Are double drops and section breaks two different things? This is an example of something I don’t know the rule for … if there is one. What say ye?

In other news: You may have noticed that I sent out my last post in abbreviated form. I admit, yes, this was an experiment to see how many of you would click through to read the entire post. As it turned out, I saw only a marginal rise in blog hits. Plus, one reader emailed to ask me to please return to full feeds. So, I have … if you didn’t notice. 🙂

Okay, time’s up.

Your turn: I read all weekend, what did you do?

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27 thoughts on “If you hadn’t noticed …

  1. I admit to not writing anything for weeks. This weekend I indulged in hanging out with friends, family and rocks. There is a particular necklace that wants to be made. Nothing like a good dose of your mind to put me back on the writers track though.
    Happy Monday. : )


    1. Are you not still in your writing group, Jess, or do you not have to submit each time? If I gave you the itch to write, I won’t apologize. 🙂

      Ah … those kind of rocks. I haven’t touched mine in months … a year, maybe. I think it’s time to do a major evaluation of how I spend my time.


    1. It is fun, even with the red pencil. Cleaning the house is what I need to do for the next couple days. I wouldn’t want my critpals to come to my house on Thursday and find out just how long I can let the dust build up. 😉


  2. I spent time with the red pen, some time on the golf course and some time reading. A perfect weekend!

    I don’t know the rules for double-drops and breaks, could it be publishers’ preferences?


  3. I relaxed a little, did some housework, shopped for groceries, commented on blogs, wrote a post, played Words with Friends with a friend and Scrabble on my iPhone. Oh, yes, I went out looking for a pitcher for iced tea and couldn’t find one. It must be dishwasher safe because I will fill it with ice and pour hot tea over the ice. I prefer that it not break when I do this. I also want the curled lip that keeps the ice cubes inside the pitcher as I pour the cold tea.


  4. I’ve just started editing my ms again after 4 weeks. It’s only day one, so I’ll be quite busy doing that for the rest of the week but I’ll run out of red ink by the time I’m done…yikes…(it’s helping me to read chapters aloud, catching all the slight nuances that bug me that way)

    Never noticed about the abbreviated posts because I always click on the link to go directly to the actual post on to read them 🙂

    P.S I too struggle with paragraph/chapter breaks etc, sometimes, they’re quite obvious, at other times I scratch my head in puzzlement.


      1. Yeah, agree on reading aloud. Think it’s the best thing to do. Don’t worry too much about the breaks. Get the ms in the right shape and then worry about those 😉


  5. This weekend was AWESOME! First, I planted new seed in the garden on Friday. They poked green little sprouts through the soil this morning. Later that day the hubbie and I fired up the grill, sat around, drank those frosty/salty drinks with the lime wedge and salt around the rim. On Saturday my books arrived, so I spent a good deal of time reading, while hubbie caught up on the man chores around the house. You know, fixing the heavy stuff. Then we drank more of those drinks that make us act silly and stayed up way to late. Sunday I worked in the garden some more and trimmed the Lantana, AGAIN! Then we fired up the grill once more. This time to test a new recipe I dreamed up – 10 stars! I’d say it was a great weekend.

    I quit looking at my blog stats. Hence I still have my sanity and I’m not sitting in the corner feeling dejected/rejected/ejected from the circle of writerly people and things. Once in a while I peek at the numbers and swiftly remember why I stopped looking.


    1. I love those salty drinks, Trista. Rocks not frozen for me.

      You are so much more productive than I am. I went out Saturday morning to view the sad state of my garden, and my roses said, “Who are you?” You know how haughty roses can be. 😉

      I’ve vowed repeatedly not to look at my blog stats, but I’m weak. But I’m happy to say my little experiment revealed that I have about 10,000 followers who view my posts in a blog reader. (Did my nose just grow?)


  6. It’s Tuesday and I’ve already forgot what I did over the weekend…
    On a more important note: I always get confused with breaks, double drops, stars, squiggly lines?? Every time I look for a rule, I read something different. It seems nobody really knows or everyone knows everything…
    There are either no rules–or very strict rules. 😦 It depends on who you ask.
    I’ve decided to look for the norm in my genre. Not now though, my WIP looks more like a first draft than an edited MS. I’m shredding it again. 🙂 I’ll figure out the breaks when I get ready to polish.
    I’m curious to know what you come up with, please share when you figure it out.


    1. Dayner, if you click on that pingback above your comment, it will take you to Merrilee Faber’s blog where she gives a good overview of where to use paragraph, section, and chapter breaks. My problem is a bit different, so when I figure it out, I may blog about it.


  7. Use standard manuscript formatting (SMF), unless you want to accomplish a technique that requires you to make up your own standard. Using SMF, you would denote a section/scene break by a number/pound sign (#). Chapters start on a new page.

    A publisher might compress pages and add a squiggly line or another symbol between section or chapter breaks to save money in printing. Maybe in your genres symbols are also used for stylistic purposes, but I doubt it. In long works, the symbols would distract readers and waste ink.


    1. Thanks, Ann. I do use standard formatting, though I’ve read to use three asterisks. It may not matter what symbol you use as long as you’re consistent. One of my questions was answered in Merrilee’s post (click the pingback.) Another is my use of a few brief flashback sequences. I originally set them off with section breaks, but some of my critique partners advised me to just transition into and out of them, which is easy to do in some cases, but not so in others. So that’s one I’m still trying to decide on.


  8. As for my weekend, I slept in! I don’t sleep enough, so that’s a big deal. I also cut off about 14 inches of my hair and watched films with a friend and my husband.


  9. Linda, isn’t that the best feeling when you can get space from a project and read it freshly? I love that. And it feels so fleeting. Putting away a novel and STAYING away (just a peek?!) is so tough, but always worth the distance when it comes time to revise.


  10. I read Room this week-end — first book using the iPad (which I LOVE).

    I have a ton of breaks in my WIPs, which are, unfortunately, still WIPs. I always double space between paragraphs and if it is a ‘real’ break, I’ll stick in another space to indicate that you should blink before moving on. I used to use ** at those points, but it looks distracting to me.

    That’s the Rule According to Natasha For Her Own Internal Use and I would be more than willing (!!) to do it differently should Random House or Little, Brown or Someone decide to publish one of my masterpieces and prefer a different method of denoting breaks.


    1. We discussed this in my critique group today and I’ve settled on using *** to indicate a scene break. And, particular to my novel, I will transition into and out of flashbacks.

      I want to use standard formatting so when I submit my ms, at least it will look like I know what I’m doing. 😉


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