Head Hopping for Blogophilia 12.5


 

No, headhopping is not something alien characters do in futuristic romances. Headhopping refers to writing where the point of view whips back and forth between multiple characters within a scene.

Headhopping is not to be confused with multiple viewpoints. Multiple viewpoints are expected in today’s romance novels. Most romance novels today show scenes from the viewpoints of both the hero and heroine. However, you should avoid switching that viewpoint in the middle of a scene.

(as quoted by Anne M. Marble)

Writers must form a connection to the reader to make them care about the story and characters.  We do this by creating sympathetic characters and placing them in situations with risks.  The most common way to make a reader sympathetic to our characters is to share their internal thoughts with a deep POV.

If the POV is unclear or changes too frequently, the reader doesn’t form a strong connection to the characters.  This is one reason why omniscient stories are less popular now—TV and movies have trained us to want more emotions and higher stakes.  Unless other aspects of the story carry them along, unconnected readers might not care enough about the outcome to finish the book.

(as quoted by Jami Gold)   

 

When I was just a child, art was my thing and I couldn’t write worth a damn in school. Then later when involved in social justice organizations, I wrote letters and articles to the newspaper. And now I attempt fiction.

Recently I sent Nineteen Hundred out to a group of readers to proof, they returned it to me. Correct the Headhopping they told me. The what?? That’s how I found out about it.

And fortunately the group  was very kind, supportive and helpful. And they all had valuable critiques to offer. So now back to editing and revising and hope to publish later rather than sooner.

I feel gauche enough when I start any new writing project; but my addiction and tenacity (nice way of saying very stubborn) makes me persevere.

No one told me about this fatal flaw. Not in my university writing classes, not my online writing classes or my readers, until now. My university teacher praised my writing. But in retrospect, perhaps he offered only a placebo rather than criticizing the headhopping.

I will use examples from Nineteen Hundred the short story I am revising.

 

 

The right love, the wrong time

 Nineteen Hundred

 Blurb

December 31, 1899. At a dinner, hosted by her landlady, to celebrate the new century, Kathryn St. Clair meets sophisticated and handsome Gideon Thomas. He is a new lodger at the boarding house where she has settled since arriving in the city for a teaching position. His air of mystery speaks to her romantic imagination.

Later, over a game of Whist, they pay more attention to each other than to the cards on the table. Her honesty reaches out to him; her rare innocence touches his dark soul.

Together they visit several city amusements. But when, in her naiveté, Kathryn demands explanations for Gideon’s irrational comings-and-goings, wondering if he is a gentleman after all, his secrets forbid him from answering. He fears the truth would throw her into madness, and that her intelligence would not allow for his reality.

If they don’t conquer their conflicting natures, their new love will die, leaving Gideon to live with the bitter consequences of his misconceptions

Examples

original

Miss St Clair peeked under her lids to inspect the gentleman. He seemed younger than the rest of the group, perhaps a few years older than her twenty five. He did not miss her surveillance; his brown eyes twinkled back at her blue ones. She quickly averted her gaze to concentrate on her clasped hands resting in her lap.  During the meal she couldn’t help but notice how the gas lamps played with the shadows on his face. Depending on the reflection, sometimes his eyes appeared shadowed and hidden, and at other times the light shone on his brown hair, almost giving a halo effect.

QUESTION: WHOSE POINT OF VIEW IS THIS? IF IT’S HERS HOW DOES SHE KNOW THAT HE NOTICED HER LOOKING AT HIM?

 Edit

Kathryn peeked under her lids to inspect the gentleman. He seemed younger than the rest of the group, perhaps a few years older than her twenty five. He did not miss her surveillance. As he gazed back at her, his deep brown eyes appeared to twinkle with interest. She quickly averted her gaze to concentrate on her clasped hands resting in her lap.  During the meal she couldn’t help but notice how the gas lamps played with the shadows on his face. Depending on the reflection, sometimes his eyes appeared shadowed and hidden, and at other times the light shone on his brown hair, almost giving a halo effect.

Original

They rode slowly at first in order for her to acclimatize to the rented machine.  When he was satisfied that she could handle it easily, he shouted out a challenge. “Let us race!” He laughed and his eyes glowed with merriment. He looked like a young lad in his navy blue flannel blazer with bright brass buttons. So different from his usual black suits.

Edit

He made sure they rode slowly at first in order for her to acclimatize to the rented machine.  When he satisfied himself that she could handle it easily, he shouted out a challenge. “Let us race!”

Kathryn loved the sound of his laughter.  With his merry eyes, he looked like a young lad in his navy blue flannel blazer with bright brass buttons. So different from his usual black suits.

 Original

Mr. Thomas agreed. His moustache rose a notch in response to the small smile that quickly passed over his face. They rode back to the boarding house in silence. Gideon slipped his pocket watch out to check the time. Kathryn almost fell asleep with the rhythm of the carriage. I’m not used to so much fresh air in a day.

Edit

Mr. Thomas agreed. Kathryn noticed his moustache rise a notch in response to the small smile that quickly passed over his face. She waited for him to say something but he remained silent.  On the ride back to the boarding house, Kathryn mumbled, “The rhythm of the carriage is making me sleepy.”   I’m not used to so much fresh air in a day. Mr. Thomas did not reply. He had slipped his pocket watch out and intently studied its face.

 

 

Useful links

http://tendergraces.blogspot.ca/2009/08/point-of-view-i-see-you-i-am-story.html

http://jamigold.com/2011/02/what-makes-omniscient-pov-different-from-head-hopping/

http://www.writing-world.com/fiction/headhop.shtml

http://writerunboxed.com/2011/06/16/head-hopping/

 

written for

Blogophilia week 12.5 – “When I was just a child”

 Bonus Points:

(Hard, 2pts): Incorporate gauché as a feeling or an anime character

(Easy, 1pt): Include the word “Placebo

This entry was posted in Blogophilia, Headhopping, POV, Writing and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

27 Responses to Head Hopping for Blogophilia 12.5

  1. Honey says:

    What an interesting post! Never stop learning. :)

  2. Chuck says:

    Headhopping – never heard of it and can’t say it bothers me. At the same time I would differ to expertise, especially when I can see a logic under it. Remember stuborn is an asset.

  3. trev says:

    now I took it as though Kathryn was speaking to me and telling me … in the story… what she saw of Gideon and his expressions and such like… and explained how she herself felt as a result.. the story being told by her… but I see now about head hopping… no one is telling the story.. I need to be told how each person feels by their actions and words towards each other… hence making me centre in on the characters more…

    one other thing.. a pet hate of mine… POV… dose that stand for Point of View? ….

    the changes are very subtle when you see the adjustment Sue… but on reflection it gives the reader a completely different feel to the story… amazing!…

    well I have learned a lot here … I hope I can get my head round it to put it into practise in the short stories I want to start writing … something I have had in my head for a while now…

    great blog by a great writer … thank you for this valuable lesson Sue.. xxx

  4. Fasinating…and I’ve learned some new things too!

  5. Jenna Jaxon says:

    Bravo! A tour de force! Taking that which you did not know and teaching others about it. The best way to learn how to do/not do something (in my experience). Great post!

  6. Christopher Mitchell (Another Government Employee) says:

    I’m guilty of this frequently. I find if I leave a piece alone for a month or two, I will usually find and modify a lot of the POV shifts. But, it really does take a fresh set of eyes to catch them all.

  7. Irene says:

    I learned somethin new! : ) Cool post!

  8. Marvin Martian says:

    One never knows what to expect from the readers! Never heard the term ‘Headhopping’ before. I expected it to be something they do in Tyler’s mosh pits! :) 8 points Earthling! :)

  9. ha ha! Just sent you a comment on this in email tonight ;) I have actually read several ebooks with head hopping in it. if done right it is effective. Whole scenes are usually easier to manage, though.

  10. Oh dear, my current WIP head hops and has multi viewpoints lol

    Thanks for this post :)

  11. I think everyone falls prey to this at some point and I think, depending on how deep the POV is, you can get away with it at some times more than other times.

    • Sue says:

      Well now that I’m so aware of it..I’m afraid to type anything…

      • Don’t be afraid ;) Just ask yourself the same question at the start of every scene:

        “Whose point of view is this from?”

        In the first looooooond story I ever wrote, I was a horrible head-hopper, but that’s because I was writing from third person, then would kind of jump into different characters heads for a line/observation, then just back out again. I feel blessed my writing group didn’t string me up and leave me for the crows ;)

  12. Liam says:

    hmm. nice to know. good post.

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