Monday, May 14, 2007

Head Hopping Is for the Birds

his past weekend, I made many happy memories as I flew to Dallas to celebrate my granddaughter's 2nd birthday. (Wasn't it nice of her to be born around Mother's Day so I could share two special occasions in one weekend?) The sudden appearance of severe weather might have spoiled our outdoor party plans, but failed to dampen the fun. My mother and sister drove down from OKC to spend the day with us too. Life doesn't get much better than that!

Of course, the travel experience always proves to be a challenge these days. I packed my carry-on bag with enough reading material to keep me occupied on a round-the-world flight. I'd been saving a fiction book about Russian Mennonites during the Revolution for such an occasion as this. I savored the blurb and endorsement on the back cover and the spine cracked as I opened the door to a new reading adventure. (I did resist the urge to sniff the pages and breathe deep the printer's ink and thick paper — considering the peace of mind of my seat mates over my own pleasures.) I didn't get beyond the first five pages, though, before I was ready to heave the tome against the flight-deck door. The story's point-of-view jumped from one character's head to another like a hummingbird in a greenhouse with an occasional foray into the omniscient POV for good measure. I suppose you could argue that I've become a lazy reader, but I don't like to have to guess whose head I'm in at any given minute in a story. I realize the strict POV is a rather recent edict in popular fiction, but, as with all modern conveniences — sliced bread, electric lights, Internet — once we realize the improvement, it's hard to stomach the old ways of doing things.

Take this as a heads' up if you are proposing a mystery to me. Stay in one POV per scene and leave the head-hopping to the hummingbirds!


P.S. I am determined to finish this book, since it is a subject that interests me and a book I spent my hard-earned money to buy, even though it is more work than fun. Don't expect as much commitment on my part when it comes to a head-hopping proposal. (Said with a smile.) Whether you're a writer or a reader, enjoy a book today!


Mary Connealy said...

Hi, Susan. I judged a contest a couple of years ago, an entry that was full of head hopping. I commented on it and mostly liked the entry so I told her my name and said contact me if you want to talk more.
She emailed me and was very brusque about my 'Old School' POV opinions.
I told her one pov isn't Old School, it's New School and yes, Nora Roberts does it flash ... you're not Nora Roberts.
(okay, I was very nice, I promise.) Anyway, it's hard to convince everyone.
I also challenged her to make sure she knew what POV IS and what rule she's breaking. So she'd be making her choices with full knowledge.
I don't know what became of her.

Mary Connealy said...

Oh, and I forgot the really IMPORTANT stuff...your granddaughter is beautiful. What a great precious little girl.

Sandra Robbins said...

I know exactly what you mean, Susan. I absolutely can not endure head hopping. On a positive note, though, I think your granddaughter is adorable. I'm glad you got to spend some time with your family.

Sandra Robbins

Rhonda said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rhonda said...

Your granddaughter is beautiful!!!

The Write Life said...

LOL, SO glad you refrained from sniffing the pages of your new story. You have a certain reputation to protect as editor to us authors. Too funny!

Your granddaughter is gorgeous. She looks older than two, too. Very wise.


Kristy Dykes said...

That's why I'm grateful for ACFW. We're a teaching organization, and most writers who join us soon come to understand POV and other writing "rules." When I first started studying the craft of fiction around 93-94, there was no ACFW. I remember the day I had my epiphany about POV (if there's such a thing GRIN). I couldn't understand it at first, and then when I finally caught on, I was confused because popular writers were doing it which I thought was a stamp of approval. But then I finally came to a clear understanding of it and started writing "pure POV." Dwight Swain always said, "One head per scene." Brown and King of Self Editing for Fiction Writers, say sticking to "pure POVism" deeps your characterizations and makes the story come alive for the reader. I agree.

Beth Loughner said...

Your granddaughter is absolutely adorable. How cute. I'm with you on the head-hopping issue. I'm not even sure why it bugs me so much, except for the fact that I like to put myself in the character's shoes and it takes too much energy to keep changing shoes every two minutes. :-)

My first book was totally from the heroine's POV and it worked...but now I really like changing back and forth with the POVs between chapters or breaks.

And okay, I just have to mention that every time I read the comment sections of The Edit Cafe and see Kristy Dykes' pix, it reminds me of Reba. :-)