Editing Rant: Jump or Break?

Photo by Blake Cheek on Unsplash

Break or Jump? White space options

So today’s edit came with two sections marked by the writer with the following (paraphrased) question. “Do I need a scene break here, a transitional paragraph, or can I just do the jump?” I understand why the author did not want to do the transitional “just adding words” – both cases were characters moving from point A to point B – in a rather obvious fashion. Why tell the readers that?

It would be boring.

We don’t want boring.

So the question then becomes scene break or scene jump?

I said break for one and jump for the other, because of emotional situation.

The characters stuck at computers and cramping. (Scene break of three stars showing some time has passed) Opening the doors and going outside into sunshine and feeling free.

Characters in car tense, parking at location (Scene Jump with new paragraph) Characters hit a wall of noise when they enter the building making them tenser. 

Transitions ignored for the break and jump – going for computer, down hall, to outside. / getting out of car, out of parking lot, into building.

This is something I’ve seen writers not really understand – using white space to add to the emotional development of the story. Sometimes a writer gets so caught up in the words, they forget paragraph-returns have their own powers.

I think the scene break helps the reader feel the difference between being hunched and free – though the conversation continues, the reaction between the characters is now shaded differently.

Whereas the jump scene increased the intensity. The reader gets whopped by the sound with the characters.

In both cases, the “white space” option complements the emotional investment needed by the reader.

Anyone else have stories (teaching-moments) about white space as an editor or writer, and how we can use “emptiness” to make a story better?