Third Question Answered

The question, please!

I know this is after your deadline, but the question didn’t appear in my attention sphere until yesterday. In some of the audio books, scenes shift mid-chapter without any indication. It’s as if the reader didn’t notice the scene change markers or didn’t find the need to include them in the story. It takes me a bit to sort out what happened and is confusing for the person encountering the story for the first time. I realize you can’t change what is already one. Is there anything that can be done about this for future audio books ?

Short answer:  Nope; not a thing we can do about audiobook production; that’s ‘way above our pay grade.

Long answer: But!  We think we figured out why this problem occurs, so at least you can know why this happens.

So far as we can figure it, this has to do with how the books are put together technically.  When we, the authors, turn in a book, we denote breaks within the same scene with the Venerable Single Hatch Mark, like this:


This is not a writer’s tool, it is a typesetting tool.  The hatch mark tells the typesetter that there’s a scene-break right here, and the typesetter, according to the traditions of her clan, removes the hatch mark and replaces it with two blank lines.  This is how scene breaks appear in finished paper novels.

Now, what happens is that the readers get the typeset edition of the book, not the author’s manuscript (this is a good thing; the typeset edition has also been copy edited, line edited, and in general made better than the manuscript, because authors do crazy things in manuscripts, I can’t even tell you).

But, wait, there’s more!  Not only do the readers get the typeset edition, they get an electronic version of the typeset edition.  Which they import into their Ipads, for ease of use (and absence of rustling pages) in the recording booth.

And what we think happens is that — between the conversions those double spaces denoting screen breaks — get lost.

So, yeah, you’re right; it’s just like the readers don’t see that there’s a new scene starting, because, well, the marker isn’t there for them to see.

Here ends the answer to the third question.


Previous Answers:
Second Questions Answered
The First Answer


4 thoughts on “Third Question Answered”

  1. Wow, you’re on a roll with the blog posts! Thank you for keeping us all up to date on everything.

    Yes, I too have noticed the lack of visible scene breaks when reading on an electronic device – maybe at some point the typesetters will have to learn to keep the # for the electronic versions, as (double) empty lines appear to be automatically removed at some point, maybe even on the device itself.
    The *** in a line by themselves (or a book-specific little picture), denoting a complete scene break, do generally seem to carry over well.

    I’ll see if after taxes I can add a bit to my Patreon for the furnace.

  2. I’m not sure if there are separate files for the paper and ebook editions, myself. It used to be that you had to make two separate editions, but Technology has Moved On, while I, err, haven’t. I do know that paper book readers complain if there are “too many” dingbats cluttering up their reading experience, which is why the hatch mark (writer to typesetter: We meant to break the scene here) is swapped out for the doublespace; it’s cleaner on the page.

    Thank you for your continued and always generous support. We have suddenly acquired several rather hefty unexpected expenses on the year. The plan is to publish two new Adventures in the Liaden Universe(R) chapbooks — possibly three, depending on how cooperative the novel is, to try to fund those.

    Always an adventure.

  3. I’ve seen many paper books with various kinds of scene-break marks, things like:
    # # #
    * * *

    It strikes me that just an extra blank line between paragraphs is often inadequate (depending on who’s reading the book) to make a scene break obvious.

    Off Topic:
    While I’m ranting on such things, I have all the Liaden books in audiobook editions, as well as many books from other authors. Some readers are better than others, but pretty much all of them have an occasional (what I call) phrasing error. Some have tons, some have a few. I just read then listened to “Field Of Bones” by J.A. Jance, and the reader, while mostly very good, irritated me by saying “serial killer” as Serialkiller, with emphasis on the “serial” part, i.e., sounding like someone who kills cereal.

    OK, Enuff with the whining. Sharon, we really enjoy all the stuff you and Steve write, so we wish you many many more years of productive writing. Keep up the good work!

  4. Yes you have. And because I’m in a bad mood I’m going to argue with you.

    There are many kinds of scene breaks. First, there are CHAPTER BREAKS, which signals a major time change, point of view change, location change.

    Then, there are SCENE BREAKS, which are often viewpoint changes within a chapter.

    Then there are scene breaks, which stick with the same characters/place/situation, but a little further down the time line. Those are the sort that get a double-space in paper books, and it has been so FOREVER.

    For an experiment, I left the hash marks denoting a scene break in the book that will be published on April 15. Be interesting to see how many people complain about that.

    Also, I really don’t see the point in whining about audiobook readers. I imagine that they, like the rest of us, are doing the best they can. They have a tough job, near as I understand, from talking to a bunch of people who narrate for a living. I, for one, would not want to be locked in a broom closet for hours on end — just that, never mind the pressure to read every line perfectly.

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