As I’m reviewing my beta reader feedback on AT4, some of the notes echo complaints readers have had with my past published novels. To break up sections within a chapter, I normally use an extra carriage return. It keeps the formatting simple, and most of the time when your eye jumps to the new section, you know the scene has changed. I also try to name the new point of view character in the first sentence as an extra cue.
If it were a printed novel, this break would be fixed and wherever it coincided with a page break, some typography magic could add an extra carriage return or editing magic would restructure the writing a little so that the break fell within the page and not at the beginning or end.
The problem with e-books is that there’s no way to predict this. Since every reader can set their own font type, font size, and/or orientation, there’s no way to tell when a scene break will overlap a page break and cause confusion. And despite my efforts and cues, I have caused confusion (and I apologize for that).
More than a couple folks have suggested putting in an asterisk or some other typographic symbol as a fixed cue that the scene is changing, and I think I’ll do this for AT4. I did some research, and learned a few things.
Three asterisks in a triangle is called an asterism. Other dinkuses can include three asterisks in a straight line, or three periods in a line (but not so close like an ellipsis), or a thing called a fleuron, which to me looks like a chili pepper.
I think I’ll use something, but the question is …what? Three asterisks centered in a line is pretty easy to format for .epub and .mobi, as is three periods (of the two, I favor the asterisks). An asterism, fleuron, or other widget will probably require a .gif, which looks weird if the reader switches from a white background to a black or beige one. I could do a custom .gif, like a pair of crossed pistols or something similar, but then I run into the same background contrast issue. I’d like to avoid a .gif if I can, but I need to think on this one.
What do you think? As readers, authors, and editors, what do you prefer to see?