In Praise of headhopping

Saturday, January 27, 2007

Just kidding.

But the pov switches in the current wip are making me a little crazy. Normally, I go with who has more at stake simply because that lends dramatic drive to the scene, but sometimes, it works not to do this. If character B doesn't have as much at stake as character A, but enough to propel the scene regardless, and it would heighten the conflict/emotion, or add intrigue, etc., if you 'draw a veil' across what's going on in the character A's head, then it makes sense to do so.

I'm also pretty good with pov switches. I tend to receive crits back where the cp says something along the lines of "I know you switched povs from A to B but I've read these paragraphs over and over and I can't pinpoint where you did it." (they probably wanted to nail my but to the wall for changing pov's *right here*. Only thing is, they can't figure out where *right here* is. heh) I (try to) do that smooth/seamless transition deliberately as much as possible. Imho, it's preferable to that 'skip a line start new paragraph' formatting.

As for head-hopping, I don't do it as a rule. This wip is testing that rule. :-P It's about the only rule I have. I'll use pov's as necessary for the story's needs. That means if a character as one scene later in the book and its the only scene that isn't in the H/h's pov, so be it. Or I'll slip into omniscient pov for a sentence or two to emphasize something. (erm... okay, sometimes that omniscient pov is really the other character's pov. *g*) While I prefer to have no more than 3 switches per chapter, that's more of a guideline than a rule.

How about you guys, how do you work with pov? What are your rules/guidelines? Does head-hopping bug you?

I think it's the way it's handled. I've read authors who do it and it makes me dizzy--there's no anchor in the scenes which can lead to emotional distance between reader and the story/character(s). I've read other authors who do it seamlessly and, while the writer in me is aware of it to a certain degree, it doesn't interfere with my enjoyment of the story, or connection with the characters.

Now off to tackle my 5 headed pov monster.
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7 comments:

May said...

Not sure how much this will help you, but one of the suggestions I was given back in the days when I loved to headhop was to write the scene in first person, then rewrite it in third and move on.

Amie Stuart said...

May having to switch something from first to third drives me insane! IMHO it's not the same which has nothign to do with Jaq's blog post. But how I write in third and how I write in first are two different animals.

JAq you ARE great at POV switches and teh fact you know what you're doing and have a solid reason for it make all the difference. Not that you need me to tell you that LOL

raine said...

Your new blogger thingy doesn't like Puritans. :-/

And I think some of your newer critters weren't sure if you were aware of the headhopping. ;)

When I first started, I LOVED headhopping. Can't say whether I did it well or not, but I agree--I wasn't crazy about the skipped spaces or ***** that stood out like neon signs to warn the reader. I think a good writer can make the transitions smoothly, and it makes for a more coherant ms.

However, I soon found that editors generally do NOT like it. Maybe it makes their job easier to have them clearly delineated, since some authors wouldn't be as good at it as others. Dunno. But I have yet to have one who would allow it (which may mean I don't do it well, lol).

Jaquelin said...

May, I don't normally head-hop. I just found I'd get to a certain point in a scene, then it would start feeling flat unless I switched pov, then happened again. It could be whatever I was focused on was the reason it was flat-lining, and not necessarily because the pov needed a switch up. I'll probably go back and fiddle with it more.

But, absolutely, your advice is dead on for peeps how are chronic head-hoppers. :-P Not *quite* my current problem tho.

Jaquelin said...

Ames, I can't recall off hand writing 1st person POV anything, so that's an interesting point you make that your *voice* changes. I have written very deep 3rd person pov and I know my voice is different when I do that.

Jaquelin said...

Raine, don't even get me started on Beta Blogger. I didn't want to switch over, believe me. I tried to log in and where they usually give you a choice if you want to log in on the old blogger or the new one, there was no 'old blogger'. :-P And I've just noticed that my comments are coming in under Jaquelin, not Jaye. I'll have to keep an eye on that. :-P

As for the pov switching/crit partners thing, my comments weren't aimed at you. I haven't even opened the actual critted document (part 2) you sent back, just read the email. ;-P

But, you do bring up a good point. I noticed that the crits I get back from published critters always refer to what/how they've been edited, editor preferences and/or 'house' rules.

It *never* hurts to have stuff pointed out. Maybe it was a deliberate choice made during the writing, that doesn't seem to work now months later upon fresh re-reading. Or maybe I didn't realize I slipped on pov, it just felt right, but now is time to reasses that choice.

The main point of this post was just venting frustrating that I find myself doing something I don't normally do, but it seems like the only way to push through. Sort of like struggling with 3rd person, then trying 1st person for the first time and the words just fly. :-)

Shesawriter said...

I only do one POV a scene. I don't mind more in other people's work if it's done smoothly.

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