Now my case is not novel-wide; I have to do this in one part of the novel, but I extended the question to a more generalised one, so that anybody else with the same question will find it useful just in case.

Suppose this scenario - I am following one person's POV, in first-person or third-person through this narration. It gets awkward when I make the jumps from scene to scene. This part, I presume, is easier when we have multiple threads and the alternating scheme makes up for the scene-jumps.

Consider the case of a POV action novel. How to omit those parts where our hero is brushing his teeth, taking a dump, sleeping etc without sounding deliberate ie as if these things have been effectively done, just that they are not worth a chapter in this book.

Those who are higher up the literary ladder, please help a first-timer out.

3 Answers 3


What I think you are asking about are chapter breaks (or scene breaks) and how to use them. Chapter breaks are gaps in the middle of a chapter that are used, broadly speaking, to gloss over any unnecessary parts of your story. Mind you, that doesn't just cover the everyday details of being human that nobody wants to read about. What is unnecessary to a story depends on the story and the writer and the readers, but broadly speaking, whatever does not advance the plot, show us something about the characters, and/or develop the world/setting, can probably be glossed over. Chapter breaks are one way to do that. If nothing very interesting happens for a few days between one important scene and the next, you can put a space between those scenes and begin the next scene with, "Nothing very interesting happened for the next few days" (or something; just an example). Or if your characters need to get from Point A to Point B, but you don't need to give every detail of the trip there. Enter the trusty chapter break!

Chapter breaks are also a way to indicate to one's readers that a new scene is beginning, which is why they are not to be used like commercial breaks. In TV shows, it's perfectly acceptable to show us the hero about to crash their ship into an asteroid (for instance), fade to black, and then pick up right where the action left off. Chapter breaks do not work like that. They are a visual shorthand that time has passed and we are now beginning somewhere new (and there's really no point to using them that way, since books don't have any commercials to pause for).

As for as your concern about glossing over boring everyday details seeming obvious and deliberate: Most readers assume that ordinary, mundane things are always happening off-screen, unless the character is in a situation where getting food/brushing their teeth/going to the bathroom/sleeping would be difficult to impossible to do, at least normally. For example, if you have a character who is wandering in the woods for a day or so, readers will notice if said character gets nothing to eat all day. Or your character has been kidnapped and is tied up in their captor's basement. Now how are they going to keep clean or relieve themselves? Or they have to spend the night in a train station, and the only place to sleep is a bench. You get the idea.

Readers might notice if they spend an entire book without a single mention of anyone eating or sleeping, since both those things can give a sense of atmosphere and character, but those activities, fortunately, are easy to insert into a scene that drives the action forward. As for tooth-brushing or bathroom-going, I have never in my life read a book where I thought, "You know, it's really obvious that this author omitted those details!" if, like I said, there was no real reason to include them, and I've never seen anyone else criticize a book for this, either. It's the same reason you don't need to describe clothes: We just assume everyone is clothed in reasonably ordinary outfits unless we are expressly told otherwise.

I will note that, despite chapter breaks indicating that time has passed, it is still disorienting for a reader to see a scene end with, "'There's no time! We have to get to the cathedral!'" and a new scene open with, "They parked their car at the city gates. 'From here, we have to go on foot,' Rita announced.'" You should begin a new scene with a line or two about where we are, what's happening, and how we got here in the first place. But with the chapter break, you can avoid including all the boring details, and keep your book from becoming nothing but a very large and very pretty doorstop.

I hope all this was helpful. Good luck!


I would do it by scenes.

If the time , location, or person(s) change you probably need a new chapter.

There will be cases when you could have the characters move in the scene, or a new person might come in to contact with the previous ones. But in general major changes like time, location, persons, would be a new scene.

Movie scripts would generally have more scenes that you might tend to merge in a novel.


Scenes should break when the action is done so that we do not have the dull interconnection between two dynamic pieces of actions that move the story forward.

Chapters should be a unit of story. This can be one scene, this can be many scenes. The important thing is it forms a complete part of the story.

Mastering the art of breaking takes a lot of practice because they are always artistic judgment calls.

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