Using spacers or line breaks for scene changes
This page is created as a visual aid to assist writers in using fanfiction.net’s text editor to its best effect when inserting a spacer/line break to change scenes. If you have no interest in fanfiction, then… *waves hand* this is not the blog post you’re looking for.
Though, you might still find some of this useful for general fiction writing.
What is a scene?
A scene is a smaller slice of a chapter, and a scene change is a mid-chapter break which denotes some sort of shift. This could be a change in narrator/POV, or a change in location, or time. It’s a visual clue to the reader that “things were happening this way, and now they’re happening that way.” Not all chapters need scenes; sometimes a chapter may involve only a single scene which flows well.
Why does fanfiction.net not like spacers/line breaks?
I don’t know why. It didn’t used to be this way. Back in 2008, when I first started using it, I used a line of asterisks to shift my scenes. Then, without warning, asterisks became some sort of faux pas. It screwed up my formatting and required an edit of every story I’d ever written, including one that was 600,000+ words long.
I don’t like the way ff.net wants the writer to use its line breaks, so I make up my own. The easiest is a centralised line of standard characters, like so:
This is, to me, the most aesthetically pleasing way of separating scenes. It gives some nice white space to either side of the spacer, and makes it readily apparent that there’s a break of some sort.
Other authors prefer to use different methods, for example:
This one is less appealing to me, since it’s more visually jarring, but it’s a very quick and easy way to insert a scene break.
Finally, the way that ff.net wants you to do it is to use the ‘horizontal line’ function on its own editor, which I have conveniently labelled with a big red arrow below:
It really does help if you Save your work in the editor, then re-open it, just to be sure it’s saved whatever change/line break you’ve used.
The reason I don’t like the built-in horizontal line so much, is because if you do a quick scan of a page that uses them, it doesn’t have the same “visual break” effect as a small spacer. I.e., it still looks like one big block of text. Not too bad if you’re writing 1k-3k word chapters, but if you’re prone to going larger on your chapters (5k and above) it can appear daunting to a reader. Here’s an example of the less visual ‘blank space’ offered by a horizontal line.
Good luck to all ff.net writers out there!