Saturday, August 18, 2007

Point of view--head hopping

So, today I want to ask you all, writers and readers alike, does it drive you nuts when you're reading a really good story, but the author keeps jumping back and forth between the hero and the heroine? I ask, because I'm reading a book (I won't mention titles and names) and every paragraph the author is switching points of view. I'm getting dizzy here! Usually I love when the author gives me both points of view. In fact, that's the way I write. However, when the author switches every paragraph I start to feel lost and confused. Who's thinking what? Which head am I in now? Ugh!

So, what's your take on this subject? And be honest, I want to know your thoughts!

20 comments:

Kelley said...

It does drive me crazy. There are very few authors who do it where I'm not wondering who is speaking at times. I give both the hero and herione pov but its at scene changes etc.

Anne Rainey said...

It's so strange too, because this book is really good, but it's confusing me as to who's thinking what.

I'm like you, scene changes are the way to go. That way there's a clear understanding of who's head I"m in, and yet the reader still gets to see both sides of the story.
:-)

Dara Edmondson said...

Head hopping makes me crazy too. I'm a purist and I want a new scene when there's a change of point of view.

Collette Thomas said...

I'm a stickler on POV. I feel the POV for hero or heroine should either be one whole scene or chapter...not paragraphs. It will only confused readers, especially one book Iread where writer had POV in minor characters. Talk about confusing, plus you never got a sense of the major characters.

Anne Rainey said...

I agree with you ladies and yet I'm forever surprised when I see a book in print that's chock full of head hopping.

I guess it makes me doubly curious as to who enjoys it and why? Someone must, or there wouldn't be any books written this way...

JenaGalifany said...

I try to change POV at the change of scene or chapter. I am guilty of both thoughts during a conversation in my first book, but have since learned not to do that. POV must be clear to keep the reader in the story.

Rocky said...

Drives me NUTS!! I've been known strike authors off my "to buy" list for it. Actually, if I'm being honest, it puts them on the "NEVER BUY AGAIN" list.

That goes for both print and ebooks.

Terra Kent said...

I couldn't handle every other paragraph being a POV I would have already dumped the book. POV change has to be either every scene change or chapter for me.

Jordana Ryan said...

I have read many, many books with head hopping. Some of my favorite author are the gultiest parties. When I first started out I got called on it big time LOL. Head hopping is not my biggest pet peeve (which irritates me because I'm always counting the switches in my favorite books). But at any rate I agree with the consensus here. Scene Breaks or Chapters are the way to go with POV's.It's confusing to have so many POV's with no breaks to let us know who the thinker is.

Jen said...

Hey Kelley & Anne, I just found this blog. Where have I been? ; -)
I agree with yall, it's pretty distracting when the POV changes from one paragraph to the other. I've read some stories where I've gotten confused over who is doing the talking. I have to back track and, clear the cob webs, and then carry on with the story. If it goes on too much, I'll just put the book down and start on another one. The last thing I want to be while reading a romance is confused.

Sharon M.Bidwell said...

Scene changes or chapter changes are the only true way to switch pov. 'Head-hopping' drives me crazy. There are a few classics written this way but few authors can do it successfully and 'technically' it's incorrect. It also irritates me when I find a book (and thankfully there are few) who write from first person pov but using several characters. First person should be the WHOLE story told from one pov only. If you're going to switch characters, it really should be third person pov. This is also the 'technically correct' way to write but more than that the same thing can happen as with head-hopping and the reader gets lost. I've read books like this and got lost or dragged out of the story because I'm thinking, 'Okay, who is speaking now?'

Lara Santiago said...

I totally agree with all the above comments. :)

Point of view--head hopping is very distracting while reading a book.

And let's face it, there is really only one author who can get away with it successfully. :)
L

Karyna DaRosa said...

I agree with most posters here. Head hopping is very, very tricky. And so few authors can do it well. I think I can count them on one hand, actually. My editor is a stickler for that (thank God!) You can show different POVs as your story progresses but skipping from head to head within the same paragraph, to me, is the mark of a lazy and rookie writer. At the very last, give me a decent scene change in between.

Anne Rainey said...

Thanks for all the interesting answers! I've been reading them and found my head nodding several times.

And Karyna: My Red Sage editor is a stickler for it too. She's taught me a lot on this subject and it's made me see head hopping as something a newbie tends to do. So, I try very hard to stear clear of head hopping! :-)

Carolan Ivey said...

Honestly? Head hopping drives me batty!

I mean, it's okay if an author switches POV once within a scene, but the constant ping-pong from one paragraph to the next is, IMHO, annoying to the reader.

I've even seen POV switches within the same paragraph. In published books. Gah!

When I write, I strive to stay in one character's POV per scene. It forces me to develop my characters more deeply.

LindseyAnn said...

*grins* I'll admit to my first book having lots of head-hopping. It's hard for me not to because I have these characters, with their thoughts and feelings, in my head. But I was called on the head-hoppishness and have edited it out as best I could.

Now that I'm working on new stories I watch for it carefully and do a scene break or a new chapter. But it does drive me nuts now that I realize it's happening. Before I never kept track of head-hopping when I read.

Writer & Cat said...

I have gotten the impression writers who read (which is all of us!) care more about head-hopping than readers who do not write. Almost like we are perturbed by what we see as behind-the-scenes sloppiness? I don't know. But I DO know head-hopping is almost always accompanied by other things I don't care for or consider sloppy, so I will put a book down if it has a lot of head-hopping or POV glitches. It's worth noting 3rd, especially the deep 3rd that makes head-hopping so disorienting, is a contemporary style -- POV used to be primarily omniscient!

Jody W.

Sandra Ferguson said...

Great discussion, Anne.

Since, as writers, we want to make the reading experience as great as possible, why make anything harder for a reader? POV switches do that -- there's the bottom line.

I'd never want to hit anyone's 'no buy' list, like Rocky's pointed out, just because I didn't take the time to clean up the POV problems.

I certainly agree with writer and cat in that head-hopping is usually just one problem in the story. It's a sympton of the author's writing, not normally (and I did say normally) a trend by itself.

Jenna Leigh said...

I like when the author splits the sex scene into 2 POV's too. It gives the opp to portray each character's emotions about what can be an important event. But, do it in 2 parts him/her or him/him, not him/her/him/her/him/her.

As an author, sometimes I don't switch for a chapter or more. Other times I switch more than once, depending on the length of the chapter and/or what's happening, like action (sex or otherwise). However, I always make sure the reader can tell who is looking through the 'camera'.

I've never done a paragraph to paragraph to paragraph switch. That would make me dizzy and I'm the one who writes it.

Anne Rainey said...

I've really enjoyed the discussion! And it's interesting how strongly we all feel about this issue.

I will admit there's only been maybe two authors who switches pov every paragraph and I'm still a fan of her work. Though, I do wish she'd stop, I just can't bring myself to stop buying her books.