Craft, Editing, Fiction, My Books, Novel, Reading, Tips, Writing

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’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 😉


  2. 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?)


  3. 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.


  4. 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.


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