Head Hopping

I can’t help it, the term gives me a mental image of headhunters every time.

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The next author sin I need to address: Head Hopping. For an excellent, succinct post about this and the different types of POV in general, head over to author Juilianne Johnson’s blog and the post https://julianneqjohnson.wordpress.com/2017/01/13/lets-talk-about-narrative-point-of-view/.

This one is becoming a sticky point for me. I hop between my characters without even noticing because I’m so involved with them it’s effortless. My beta readers have pointed out, rightly, that they aren’t immersed in the characters like me and when I do this it jars them out of the character they were getting into. This is 100% correct and a problem I need to fix. That’s why I’m actively working on improving, researching fixes, reading books in my genre and writing hundreds of words a day myself. Sure I’m writing for my own enjoyment but the ultimate goal, the glittering golden prize wavering in the distance is getting someone else lost in my stories too. That means making the reading seamless and sticking to a POV. I’m trying for Third Person Limited, with my two main character point of views. That means taking turns and trying to make the transitions smooth. OK, I’ll practice that until it comes easily. It ends up looking more like Third Person Omniscient a lot though as I narrate and dip between characters and that creates this head hopping problem.

But . . . sometimes the relationship ends up being the main character, the action is coming thick and head hopping happens. If it’s telling the story and not tossing my readers out of the spell on their ass, it’s all good right? Especially in Romance, the POV seems to be a bit more fluid. Readers coming from YA where it’s all first person and strictly main character POV might be a bit jarred by it. Readers coming from a pure fiction background where it’s all one person’s journey into spun gossamer webs of words are definitely unsettled by it.

In the end my instinct is that I’ll have to stick to trying to be the best writer I can and always improving, learning to tell a story and convey the strongest emotion. I have a suspicion that this will include the occasional head hopping along with my multitude of other grammar sins. On the bright side, that means I can look forward to giving a future academic who has sunk low enough to read housewife porn for some reason a nice stress tic and some slow-dawning self doubt about their life choices. #Lifegoals

Another article on this issue; Randy Ingermanson’s excellent take on Head Hopping (The author of “Writing Fiction for Dummies”)