Saturday, 25 February 2012

Line Break or No Line Break

I’ve been working with a critique group to get my novel ready for submission.  One of the suggestions was to eliminate the line break between switches of point of view within the same scene.

Now, this is something which annoys me when I’m reading.  I’m a fast reader and I often manage to miss the change of POV and become confused when something doesn’t make sense.  Then I have to backtrack and reread.

But I’m also a novice writer and very conscious of my lack of knowledge of professional standards.  I’ve already been caught in one very embarrassing systematic punctuation error (not using a comma before an endquote when the sentence continues past the quote: “Excellent,” he said.).  Thus, not feeling entirely confident in my evaluation of the situation.

So I did what any self-respecting geek does when confronted with a dilemma.  I hit the books.  I went through four or five of my favourites and confirmed that yes, there was a line break between POV changes.  I tried to be diplomatic and respectful when resubmitting but I can’t help feeling uneasy about not taking all their suggestions (especially since the suggestions have all been pretty good so far).

If this was an editor, there would be no question.  Do what the editor wants unless you have a really pressing reason why it shouldn’t be.  On the other hand, the last thing I want is for an editor or agent to dismiss what I have because of technical errors.

To further stir my emotional stew, I was rereading Anne of Green Gables which is full of POV changes and not a dang one of them has a line break.  Now my uncertainty is really growing.  My main concern is that I may have offended someone who has been very gracious and helpful and whom I respect a great deal.  Ack!

Hopefully I haven’t.  And if I have, hopefully, I can repair it.  Compassion, respect and honour will generally get you through pretty much any error in judgment. 

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