Conditional scene breaks in Writer

How does one implement conditional scene breaks in Writer? Assume standard fiction book formatting:

  • all paragraphs have approximately 1.5 line spacing,
  • all paragraphs have NO line space above or below,
  • first paragraph of any given block or section does NOT have any first line indent,
  • successive paragraphs within same block or section DO have approximately font point size × 2 first line indent.

Any given scene break paragraph that occurs at either the first line of any given page or the last line of any given page should automatically display as a centered paragraph containing three asterisks (or equivalent characters), with no line-space above or below it, but, if the scene break paragraph occurs at any location on any given page other than at the top line or bottom line of the page, the scene break paragraph should merely display as a single blank line.

This scene break paragraph can be formatted as a paragraph style most likely entitled Scene Break, and the paragraph would contain a condition that would determine whether to display the three asterisks, dependent upon whether the scene break paragraph occurs at either the very top of the page or the very bottom of the page.

(reformatted by ajlittoz to make reading more “comfortable”)

@kmm: sorry, we had an editing conflict; so, your change may be lost. Please check. Mention OS name, LO version and save format.

I don’t understand the logic about your scene break. If it occurs in the middle of a page, nothing is shown. This is rather confusing. How do you visually spot a scene break then? Please explain and attach a sample to better examplify the case.

Perhaps I can clarify. A scene break is always a single line paragraph, regardless of whether it contains any characters. If it contains characters, then those characters will typically be three asterisks (or equivalent characters). If it does NOT contain characters, then only a blank line will be displayed.

It might be obvious (but it might not be so, so I will attempt to clarify the following point) that any given blank line would not be visible or obvious to any given reader if that blank line occurs at either the very last line or very first line of any given page, so a scene break paragraph must not be merely a blank line whenever that scene break paragraph occurs at the very top or very bottom of any given page. Instead, the scene break paragraph must contain the three asterisks (or equivalent) whenever the scene break paragraph occurs at the very top or very bottom of any given page.

However, if any given scene break paragraph occurs at any other line on any given page, the scene break paragraph should appear empty of any characters.

Additionally, all paragraphs should not exhibit any line spacing above or below. In Writer, the following formatting would apply to all the paragraphs (including the scene break paragraph!): (a) Indents & Spacing > Spacing > Above paragraph: 0.0 pt; (b) Indents & Spacing > Spacing > Below paragraph: 0.0 pt.

SceneBreakExamples.pdf (71.8 KB)

This is no answer to your problem and should not have been posted as a “solution”: this site is not a forum where you follow “conversations”. It is a question & answers type: one question, multiple possible answers. Any clarification, addition, request goes into comments or edition of previous post. Please, repost as a comment and when done, delete your “non-answer”.

What you need can’t be done natively in Writer. Perhaps macro gurus could find a way to decorate page breaks before/after scene break paragraph, but I don’t like this kind of solution because updating the document after text reflow due to editing is not easy.

Why don’t you systematically draw a thin line to mark a scene break? This can easily be done as a top or bottom border on the scene break paragraph style. The width of the line is controlled by the left and right indents of the paragraph.

A thin line to mark a scene break would not comply with publishing industry standards for scene breaks. Publishing industry standards indicate either a blank line when the scene break occurs anywhere other than the first or last line of a page or a centered line containing three asterisks (or equivalent) when the scene break occurs at the first or last line of a page.
Additionally, the automatically applied condition is necessary. A manual application of the condition would incur unacceptably increased probability of misapplication during later editing, proofing, and formatting.
If the automatic application of the condition may be obtained through a macro in Writer, could you point me to the appropriate forum for Writer macro programming?

This is a tentative solution, provided you (or your clients) accept to break publishing industry standard (one rule only): always mark a scene break with three asterisks, even in the middle of a page.

The reason is there is no way to insert text conditionally on context (at page break or not).

There are two ways to achieve your purpose:

  • manually
    You always type * * * in your scene break paragraph. Note that you can record the full paragraph contents in an AutoText entry so that you only type the shortcut + F3. This will also take care of styling automatically if your entry is smartly crafted.
  • automatically
    Here I break half another rule, replacing the asterisks by dashes. I use a dashed upper border in the scene break paragraph style and I tune the indents so that only 3 dashes appear. Font size is set to 2pt so that only spacing above and below are taken into account in the vertical size of the paragraph. You can also record the full sequence in an AutoText entry to further automate the process.

See this quick and dirty attempt: LO-SceneBreak.odt (10.0 KB)

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