Head-Hopping - what's the deal people?

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JustineDell
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Head-Hopping - what's the deal people?

Post by JustineDell » March 4th, 2010, 9:14 pm

I like head-hopping. I like to read it. It drives me crazy when I read a story from only one point of view. I'm a romance woman...remember that peeps ;-)

I'm the type of person who needs to see a story from different perspectives. I need to know what everyone is feeling. Okay, so maybe just the h/h, but I need more than one POV! Granted, I will read those stories in just one POV, but sometimes I find them frustrating.

So what happened in my writing? Yup - you guess it. Head-hopping. Now, let's step back for moment and consider this. I know the difference between switching pov's during certain times of the ms and head-hopping. Apparently, it's okay to do the following: A chapter for the hero. A chapter for heroine. Or 1/2 and 1/2. Or the heroine gets the first half and the hero gets the last page or few paragraphs. For newbies...like myself - constant pov changes are a no-no. And head-hopping is a...well - you just might as well go jump of a cliff. Sure, famous published authors do it, but we've been down that road, haven't we?

When I write, I'm like in a trance and I just go with the flow. When I got back and edit - like I am doing on one of my completed ms's now, I find that I head-hop like crazy. Seriously, I'm switching pov's in the same paragraph. One sentece for the hero, one sentence for the herione. Eeek gads!!! There are times when I stay with one for a while and switch to the other for a bit and then back. I don't know I'm doing it at the time - it just happens. I know I have to fix it when I edit. But I don't like to.

People think head-hoping is jarring. I don't think it is. I like it.

So, tell me - please...why don't you like head-hopping? Or constant POV changes? How about the others I mentioned - the ones that don't seem to near as jarring?

~JD

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Ishta
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Re: Head-Hopping - what's the deal people?

Post by Ishta » March 4th, 2010, 11:22 pm

Sometimes I like POV changes, and sometimes I don't.

I tend to prefer to spend at least a whole chapter in the same person's head, so if the POV changes within a chapter, I tend to get irritated - it's just too much to try to keep up with. A rare exception to that can be made when a character reads minds or some such, and it's clear that we are reading thoughts that belong to someone other than the person whose head we're in. But as long as I'm in the same person's head for a chapter, I don't mind switching POV so much, especially if it is done to show me something I wouldn't have otherwise seen: for example, if two characters are in two different places at the same time, but both people are doing something that will be important for me to know later, I like having a chapter for each of them to tell me what they've been up to.

I don't like POV changes when they aren't necessary - for example, I'm reading BREAKING DAWN at the moment and I hated the POV switch in the middle, because it didn't give me a new perspective on something that I had already seen through someone else's eyes; it just told the next part of the story through that person's eyes. Additionally - and this brings me to the other reason that switching the POV sometimes turns me off - I don't particularly like this other character, and I didn't want to spend that chunk of the book in his head. I wanted him to walk off the edge of a very high, very steep cliff into churning waves lit by a burning oil slick and inhabited by gigantic man-eating eels, never to return again, a long, long, LONG time ago. I almost put the book down. As it was, I breezed through his part, which is uncharacteristic for me; I like to savor the words, often going over a paragraph or a page a few times to really absorb all of the nuances and references before I move on. I just couldn't wait to get away from him. So, I guess I'd caution that if you want to switch the POV, consider whether this is someone your readers will want to learn more about.

Good luck with your manuscript!

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Re: Head-Hopping - what's the deal people?

Post by EvelynEhrlich » March 4th, 2010, 11:29 pm

I think switching POV is fine if it's done seamlessly. Put another way, the reader almost shouldn't realize the POV changed, shouldn't have to make an effort to switch gears. It's all part of the art of the author disappearing into the background. Don't let the reader realize you're in the way.

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Re: Head-Hopping - what's the deal people?

Post by charlotte49ers » March 4th, 2010, 11:37 pm

I don't like it, simply because I get comfortable with one POV, feel like I'm really understanding them, then wham, I'm in another person's head.

But it's just one person's opinion. A lot of people really like that approach, so I dunno. :)

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Re: Head-Hopping - what's the deal people?

Post by polymath » March 4th, 2010, 11:50 pm

An answer for me as a writer is targeting an audience's comfort zone. An audience with more developed reading comprehension skills wants more complex stories. Multiple viewpoint character points of view are more complicated to read than single points of view. It's like an addictive compulsion, more, stronger, better, ah!
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Re: Head-Hopping - what's the deal people?

Post by Leila » March 5th, 2010, 2:58 am

I actually found this tricky to answer, because my answer kept changing depending on which book I thought of at the time.

The only thing I've discovered over the years, is if, in the use of said head-hopping effect, there isn't a nice weave in the way different characters present throughout the story, if it is say a bit jerky or incidental, then the story loses energy and my interest slides somewhat. That's only my opinion though, for what it's worth.

If you don't mind me asking, what sort of results do you feel you are getting as you edit/change this effect?

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Re: Head-Hopping - what's the deal people?

Post by victoria » March 5th, 2010, 7:21 am

I only like it when it's done seamlessly and there's no clunky transition between the two - but i also need it to be very clear that there has been a change in POV - I hate it when it isn't and I have to read back and work out when it happened.
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Re: Head-Hopping - what's the deal people?

Post by taylormillgirl » March 5th, 2010, 8:03 am

I love reading from multiple POVs, but not if the author switches POV over and over again on the same page or within the same chapter. I prefer an entire chapter from one POV or (like you mentioned) the final half of the chapter or the final paragraph.

Have you read Montana Sky? I believe Nora Roberts wrote it, but no promises. Anyway, in some sections each sentence had a new POV, and it drove me crazy. It took my focus off the story as I tried to figure out whose head I was in, and in my humble opinion, anything that takes a reader's focus off the story and interrupts the flow is a bad thing. But, hey, it's all subjective. I'm sure some readers love it.
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Re: Head-Hopping - what's the deal people?

Post by JustineDell » March 5th, 2010, 8:08 am

Leila wrote:
If you don't mind me asking, what sort of results do you feel you are getting as you edit/change this effect?
I actually don't like how it turns out. Something ends up missing. The "in the moment" feeling is gone, for me at least. Having to remove the thoughts all together or move them somewhere else - it just doesn't flow the same (again, for me).

I think I need a support group. Hello, my name is Justine Dell, and I head-hop.

~JD

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Re: Head-Hopping - what's the deal people?

Post by Seamus » March 5th, 2010, 8:59 am

I have read some really artful multiple POV novels in which the authors seemed to have intuited when I was hungry for more information than the main character could have possibly known. I feel as though I'm Scrooge, being whisked from one scene to another by the narrator ghosts -- all to good effect. However, I write almost exclusively from one POV (either first or third person). For me this discipline most mirror's the human experience and allows me to draw the reader into a type of intimacy -- almost a commitment -- for the course of the piece. You've inspired me, though. I'll dabble on your side of the universe for my next piece and see how it goes.
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Re: Head-Hopping - what's the deal people?

Post by JustineDell » March 5th, 2010, 11:44 am

taylormillgirl wrote:
Have you read Montana Sky? I believe Nora Roberts wrote it, but no promises. Anyway, in some sections each sentence had a new POV, and it drove me crazy. It took my focus off the story as I tried to figure out whose head I was in, and in my humble opinion, anything that takes a reader's focus off the story and interrupts the flow is a bad thing. But, hey, it's all subjective. I'm sure some readers love it.
Nora Roberts, indeed. She is a romance writer who uses head-hopping. She's one of my favorites and I don't mind her head-hopping. I don't have any problem following it. I think you made be right about it being subjective. It works for some people, it doesn't work for others. I'm not sure about other genre's but I like to think that mine requires it at times. And when I don't get I'm like errrrrr!!!

~JD

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Re: Head-Hopping - what's the deal people?

Post by Emily White » March 5th, 2010, 4:07 pm

The only time head-popping can get really messy and annoying is when the style of writing is in third limited, but you didn't want to wait for scene breaks to get to a different character's thoughts. Omniscient is the smoothest way to do it. Instead of popping from one head to the other, you are staying in the head of the all-knowing narrator. It tends to be more distant, but you can effectively switch from one character to another within even the same paragraph when you use it.

That being said, I've heard that Romance does use head-popping a lot more than the other genres without specifically using the all-knowing narrator. It is more like you pop from one head to the other. So, if you like it that way when you read it and you can do it effectively in your own novel, I'd say go for it.
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Re: Head-Hopping - what's the deal people?

Post by Leila » March 6th, 2010, 1:15 am

JustineDell wrote:
Leila wrote:
If you don't mind me asking, what sort of results do you feel you are getting as you edit/change this effect?
I actually don't like how it turns out. Something ends up missing. The "in the moment" feeling is gone, for me at least. Having to remove the thoughts all together or move them somewhere else - it just doesn't flow the same (again, for me).

I think I need a support group. Hello, my name is Justine Dell, and I head-hop.

~JD
I offer this comment in the vein of being supportive, and without seeing your work it's hard to comment, but ...if your story works as is, do you really need to dissect it too much? I may have missed you talking about this earlier, but what feedback have you received on your MS as written? I assume you have already pulled it apart from all the craft angles?

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Re: Head-Hopping - what's the deal people?

Post by JustineDell » March 6th, 2010, 9:07 am

Leila wrote:
JustineDell wrote:
Leila wrote:
If you don't mind me asking, what sort of results do you feel you are getting as you edit/change this effect?
I actually don't like how it turns out. Something ends up missing. The "in the moment" feeling is gone, for me at least. Having to remove the thoughts all together or move them somewhere else - it just doesn't flow the same (again, for me).

I think I need a support group. Hello, my name is Justine Dell, and I head-hop.

~JD
I offer this comment in the vein of being supportive, and without seeing your work it's hard to comment, but ...if your story works as is, do you really need to dissect it too much? I may have missed you talking about this earlier, but what feedback have you received on your MS as written? I assume you have already pulled it apart from all the craft angles?
One thing I've learned through the editing phase is just because my story works for me, doesn't mean it works for other people. I know the story inside out, so I don't get jarred by anything. When someone else reads it and they are like "Uh?" it flips on that switch in my head and I start second guessing. I dissect as neeeded and most of the time I move the pov changes around to put them in more formatted groups instead of splattered all across the MS. This seems to help the transition and the flow for others, but then again, for me - it's just not the same. I understand what works for me doesn't work for everyone so I try to make to story (and pov changes) something someone else can live with and something I still like. That's the difficult part.

~JD

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Re: Head-Hopping - what's the deal people?

Post by christi » March 6th, 2010, 11:10 am

Here's my lame take on this. I have three main characters and a support cast of over ten characters central to the plot in my urban fantasy. It's impossible to tell the WHOLE story from one POV. When I even write one SCENE from one POV, the scene is lacking. I do the HORRIBLE AND CONSTANTLY FORBIDDEN THING and give insight into more than one character at a time through third person omnicient.

Yes, I've been told that it almost never works, but I gave up caring. Over 20 people have read my story and not one email has ever come my way that said, "the POV shift distracts me" in fact, they usually say 'it was so seamless I didn't even notice it. what do you mean?' when I would ask about it. Yes, if you're one of the anal lot like us that constantly dissects the formation of a sentence and how the plot is driven and if a character is a cardboard cut-out or cliche, then you'll probably notice the POV change, but a lot of readers read for FUN and ENTERTAINMENT.

So long as the story is compelling, then I don't think POV is as important, but that's just me. I feel rather alone in this, but again, don't care. My story is in the same vein of what writing used to be: a storyteller sitting around a campfire, not involved with the characters, but relaying the story with as much or as little detail needed to tell the story right. What I do is not a POV shift, but insight into what is going on from whatever source is needed to tell it the best way.
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