I'm often given pieces of writing to critique. And one of my big bears is head hopping. I don't see this is first person point of view, but I sometimes see it in 3rd person point of view. I must point out that head hopping it isn't wrong or right. It's a personal preference. But here's why I don't like it.
Head hopping from one character to another in the same scene is telling the reader what they need to know. Marge is doing this. James is angry with Marge doing that. Marge knows that James is angry. James knows that Marge knows that James is angry.
For me, there is mystery and suspense in what I don't know. Plotting, scheming, agonising over choices...these things can't take place if we are head hopping from one character to another and we know everything that is going on. Marge is doing this. She suspects James is angry but she keeps doing this. Is she teasing him? Testing him? Trying to destroy him?
Knowing everything that's happening is great for a project team building a house. But we aren't building a house. We're weaving and crafting a story, keeping the reader on the edge of their seats, hooking them in, tugging at their heartstrings, making them jump in surprise or cry out in anger.
If a scene is totally kept in one character's point of view, then everything we see is through their eyes and everything they think is their thoughts. We can get deep into the emotions, the motives, the past pain, the future hope or lack of it.
I recently read a great reasoning for head hopping in romance novels - that the relationship is the focus, not the hero or the heroine. That may be so. But isn't romance the biggest mystery of them all. Another reasoning for head hopping reason is that it's the whole point of writing in 3rd person, to expose the reader to other viewpoints. They are both valid arguments. Like I said, it isn't wrong or right, but I will continue to keep my points of view compartmentalized by chapters.
What do you think of head hopping in fiction? Like it? Dislike it? Indifferent to it? I'd love to hear you thoughts, but only one at a time LOL.
Friday, 19 February 2016
Head hopping in fiction and reasons why I don't like it
D L Richardson is the author of the Welcome to the Apocalypse trilogy, the Shivers series, and 3 young adult paranormal books. She is currently writing a new sci-fi series Earth Quarantined. She grew up on sci-fi TV classics such as Lost in Space, Space 1999, Bionic Woman. Most of the movies she watched as a kid were on TV, and the first sci-fi movie she saw in a cinema was Return of the Jedi. She’s also a fan of classic horror movies such as Evil Dead and Hellraiser. She used to watch these on VHS as a teen with her friends when she was meant to be doing homework. Books are known to spill out of every available space in her home. TWo of her favorite authors are Dean Koontz and Anne Rice. Her favorite book is The Hobbit. When she's not writing, she can be found wandering in her yard waging war on weeds, watching back-to-back episodes on Netflix, playing her piano or guitar, curled up on the couch reading a book, or walking the dog.