Need to reformat paragraphs without speech quotations

I have just finished my first novel in Scrivener and need a bit of help formatting my manuscript.

Out of habit, I have added a double return break after each paragraph, however now I want to compile, I need to get rid of those breaks and turn them into single paragraph breaks.

I tried using the “tidy text” tool under the edit tab, however this also gets rid of the double breaks around speech.

Is there any way to close the paragraph breaks but still keep the speech breaks? I’ve pasted examples below of what I mean.

Thanks.

Eg1: What it is -

Narration, narration, narration. Blah blah blah blah. Narration, narration, narration. Blah blah blah blah. Narration, narration, narration. Blah blah blah blah. Narration, narration, narration. Blah blah blah blah. Narration, narration, narration. Blah blah blah blah.

Narration, narration, narration. Blah blah blah blah. Narration, narration, narration. Blah blah blah blah. Narration, narration, narration. Blah blah blah blah. Narration, narration, narration. Blah blah blah blah. Narration, narration, narration. Blah blah blah blah.

“Hello you,” John said.

"Hello me," I said.

Narration, narration, narration. Blah blah blah blah. Narration, narration, narration. Blah blah blah blah. Narration, narration, narration. Blah blah blah blah. Narration, narration, narration. Blah blah blah blah. Narration, narration, narration. Blah blah blah blah.

Eg2: What it should be.

Narration, narration, narration. Blah blah blah blah. Narration, narration, narration. Blah blah blah blah. Narration, narration, narration. Blah blah blah blah. Narration, narration, narration. Blah blah blah blah. Narration, narration, narration. Blah blah blah blah.
Narration, narration, narration. Blah blah blah blah. Narration, narration, narration. Blah blah blah blah. Narration, narration, narration. Blah blah blah blah. Narration, narration, narration. Blah blah blah blah. Narration, narration, narration. Blah blah blah blah.

 "Hello you," John said.

   "Hello me," I said.

Narration, narration, narration. Blah blah blah blah. Narration, narration, narration. Blah blah blah blah. Narration, narration, narration. Blah blah blah blah. Narration, narration, narration. Blah blah blah blah. Narration, narration, narration. Blah blah blah blah.

First, congratulations on completing your novel. That’s fantastic! Also, welcome to the Scrivener forum!!

To business:

Your example as it shows up here on the forum is a little hard to decipher (and putting boxes around some of the example text has made it more difficult to see the intent). To understand what you want, if you will bear with me, let’s for now not talk about double carriage returns, but let’s talk about paragraph formatting and whether certain paragraphs should be formatted with, for example, first-line indents or should have some Space After (i.e. have some vertical padding underneath — which is what you have been doing in the typewriter way with your carriage returns).

From your example, as far as I can make out, you seem to want a) “narrative” paragraphs to have no first-line indent and no Space After, unless followed by a “speech” paragraph in which case you want the narrative paragraph to be followed by a one-line equivalent of Space After, and b) “speech” paragraphs with no first-line indent and to always have Space After.

Is this right?

Before pursuing thoughts about how to make this happen, first, I must digress, because the above seems to me a very unusual typographic layout. (Or am I so out of it?)

  1. For one thing, consecutive narrative paragraphs would all run together. If you correct for that and include space after for narrative paragraphs, then your problem goes away, because every paragraph then has the same space after setting.

  2. If instead you mean to get distinction between narrative paragraphs by including some first-line indent for narrative paragraphs, then the resulting layout is, I think, still typographically odd — in a way that makes me wonder why you want this. A quick review of your bookshelves would, I think, show that the layout you are aiming for is not a thing. You will, presumably, find two sorts of pattern: some first-line indent and no space after OR no first-line indent and some space after. But in each case the paragraph format of choice applies to all the body text paragraphs in the book.

  3. There could not really be a robust typographic practice on the model you are pursuing in part because there is not a regular, reliable distinction between narrative and speech paragraphs that would make sense of having typographically distinct paragraph formats.

Maybe you just want what you want and I am being no help at all, but I thought it might be worth making sure your intent is properly grounded before you go to some lengths to achieve it.

I think the formatting of the forum made my post strange, let me simplify.

I have separate paragraphs, and I want indented, or literary paragraphs as you put it.

So at the moment I have,

PARAGRAPH

PARAGRAPH

SPEECH

PARAGRAPH

and what I need is

PARAGRAPH
PARAGRAPH

SPEECH

PARAGRAPH.

Is there a way of globally correcting this?

  1. I am still puzzled as to why you want this.

  2. To do it, you need to construct a search and replace which will target just the carriage returns between consecutive narrative paragraphs. Since speech paragraphs always start with a quote mark (or open-quote mark, depending), specifically your Find needs to find instances of double carriage return followed by any non-quote-mark character. Your replace then needs to replace that with a single carriage return followed by that found non-quote-mark character.

  3. You can construct such a sophisticated find & replace in Scrivener, but you will need to use RegEx code to do it. Sadly, I am not the right person to help you ferret out the right regEx code for that. But there are many here that can help with that.

  4. This is something you could do to your source text, or you could set it up so that it is something that will happen at compile time.

  5. Since you will need compile to put first-line indents on your paragraphs (I assume your paragraphs do not have this already), you have the awkward result that speech paragraphs will have both break space and indentation — kind of a no-no — so, you will want to remember to also set the compile option to Remove first-line indent after blank lines.

  6. While the above will turn the trick, I firmly believe you should not do these things.

I want to do this because it’s the standard format that people are used to.

Are you using a translation/AI program? I feel there’s a lot of meaning that['s getting lost here. I’m not quite getting your replies.

I would urge you, before proceeding, to examine a good handful of published books from big house publishers to verify that what you think is the standard is in fact the standard (i.e., what people are used to). I think it is not (at least not in my part of the world, U.S.).

p.s. No, Bubble, I am not using a translator or AI. I just have a PhD and have spent too much time in academia. :wink:

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Here is a random page from three random hardcover books from a nearby bookshelf. Each uses a canonical layout for paragraphs — each following exactly the same standard — and none does what you are proposing to do. I would argue that what you see here is by far the most common format for novel text (in English). Unless we come from different worlds or something!

This is what I see virtually everywhere when I open up novels: first-line indent, no space-after, with no distinction between paragraphs that start with speech and other paragraphs.

[I pulled one of the three text pages after realizing it had a bit of a love scene in it. Nothing scandalous, but let us err on the side of delicacy.]

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I agree with @gr. What you are proposing is not a conventional layout. Which is probably why it’s not particularly easy to do.

His suggestions are good, but before you proceed I would definitely advise doing a bit more research to ensure that you’re not going to make your work noticeable for all the wrong reasons.

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I wasn’t explaining properly, but the example you put is what I want, how can I format it to that.

In the Compile Format Designer, reached by double-clicking your Format in the left column of the Compile Overview window, in the Section Layout tab, select the right-most tab Settings and select Indents except after headings and empty lines.

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