I’m dissecting the article Hunting Down the Pleonasm, by Allen Guthrie, using it as a cattle prod to search for little nasties in my manuscript. Yep, you can join in the fun, too. Let’s take a looksee at topic #12
12: Fix your Point Of View (POV). Make it clear whose head you’re in as early as possible. And stay there for the duration of the scene. Unless you’re already a highly successful published novelist, in which case you can do what you like. The reality is that although most readers aren’t necessarily clued up on the finer points of POV, they know what’s confusing and what isn’t.
This is something that I really needed to teach myself to do. I’ve even written quite a few stories recently in one POV to keep myself from hopping.
A few years ago I wrote a novel with about a dozen points of view. A beta reader suggested I read a BEST SELLING novel that switched points of view a lot so I could get a feel of how to do it seamlessly. You know what happened? I couldn’t even read the book. About half-way-through, I abandoned it because the head-hopping drove me crazy. But wait – that was a best-selling novel????
Yes, it was… so a lot of people liked it. I didn’t. (This was a romance novel by the way… it hopped between the two main characters)
The experience struck me enough though to go through my book like a viper ensuring that every scene had a SINGLE point of view. I don’t want to give anyone the flip-flop experience that this novel had given to me.
It’s really not that hard. Start a scene in someone’s head, and then pay attention to staying there. Do you need to express the feelings of another character? Fine. But do it by showing what your POV character observes.
This POV advice is one I stoutly agree with.
Pick your POV and stay there. If you need to change, start a new chapter and stay inside the news character’s head for a while.
Your writing will shine with this little added attention. Harder? Yes, sometimes it is, but the end result is sooooo worth it.
How do you feel about head hopping? Are you guilty?