Spent the last two days going over page proofs with a writer. One of my favorite moments in the publishing process is when you see the manuscript transformed into typeset pages. I’ve always had great respect for book designers and all the decisions that go into making a page.
Today our work centered on space breaks. Her book employs three kinds. The small break that changes the subject within the same time frame. The medium break that generally indicates a jump in time. And the large space within the chapter that signals a new time and place, perhaps a new authorial tone as well.
Toward the end of our session, my client apologized for taking up so much time on space breaks. How dare you, I said, demean the space break. What did a a space break ever do to you? If this were a musical, I would now sing out about the value of space breaks.
Suffice to say, and perhaps I say this coming from a poetry background, space breaks are sacrosanct. They offer a rest, a breather, a game changer, a scene change, a time change, a change in pov, tone, or tense. A space break gives the writer an opportunity to take a left where he might have taken a right, add paprika, turn up the heat, or lower the lights. A poet knows that what comes between stanzas is an essential tool in making a poem kill it. Your space breaks as a prose writer are second only to chapter breaks.
This post sings of the so called blank spaces. This post also had too much sauvignon blanc at dinner.