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I know you are supposed to used Chapter breaks to cut between scenes, but I was wondering if you are supposed to use Chapter breaks when you reference a period of time elapsing within the same scene.

For example, should there be chapter breaks (indicated by the three stars) in the following examples:

“That’s it. Keep a firm hold.”

Fifteen minutes go by in a flash.

            *       *       *

“Thank you for your help, sir."

"You're most welcome."

Example 2:

"Let's have a cup of tea before I leave."

            *       *       *

Twenty minutes later, we watch as she dons her Chanel jacket...

Is it necessary to use a chapter break if you actually reference the time that elapsed? Is it better to use it to jump from one scene to another, rather than to indicate jumping to a later point within a scene.

Is it a question of author preference?

Thanks for any input.

  • it doesn't always have to be chapter break; you can literally put in the three or five asterisks, or three returns, and have a scene break if you want to stay in the same chapter. – Lauren-Clear-Monica-Ipsum Mar 5 '16 at 12:11
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I would advice you against that. Like you said, the chapter breaks are used when there is a scene changing and that is what people would be expecting.

You can simply format it as:

"Let's have a cup of tea before I leave."

Twenty minutes later, we watch as she dons her Chanel jacket...

But of course, if you like the way people perceive the breaks, you can use them. If you want the reader to pause for some fractions of the second, so as to realize that 20 minutes have passed, you can use the breaks.

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