Head Hopping…makes my head spin!

Head hopping. Kind of sounds like playing on a pogo stick. Unless you’re very adept, you rarely land in the same place every time. So, what does a pogo stick have to do with writing? More than you’d think.

I’ve been trying to read more and read different genres. I am prone to pick up free books on Amazon when offered. Hey, I’m a reader first and I don’t want to just throw money into the fire.

I started (couldn’t get past chapter one) a historical romance that had a promising blurb and the preview read really well. Why couldn’t I get past chapter one? Head hopping. The first pages were fine while it was just the hero’s point of view. Once the heroine and her family and the incident that pulls them together happens, bam! I was lost. In literally five paragraphs, the story was told from FOUR different points of view. The hero, the heroine, the heroine’s father and an ancillary character who may or may not figure in later in the story.

I hate having to re-read a paragraph because the author lost me. The switch happened without a clue or heads up until about the second or third line of the paragraph. I’m not quoting directly, but this is about how it felt.

He gazed over the hills unable to believe they could find him so easily. The mission would be easier to accomplish than J had originally thought.

When the dust settled on the horizon, a body lay bleeding in the dirt. She jumped off her steed and ran to her fiance. Why had she let him run off on his own? She should have been by his side.

Looking over his shoulder, he realized his companions no longer followed. In this distance he heard his daughter’s anguished scream.

Watching the scene in front of him, he his behind the wheel of the wagon thinking of how he could get word to the king of the ambush.

He caught the movement of the slinking guard out of the corner of his eye. J could not let him get word back to his superiors.

The paragraphs were longer, but that’s how the transitions were written. Four points of views in four consecutive paragraphs before hopping back to the hero. Did that confuse you? Does it bother anyone else? Or is it just me?

I’ve read a few discussions on Facebook groups and a few blogs where people say they hate when the story is broken up evenly between the characters. Okay, I can see that. The rhythm may become monotonous depending on how the story is written. I tend to break mine up within the chapter. I try not to make them the same length, but I write how the story dictates.

People writing in first person and from the main characters point of view wouldn’t have this problem. Those of us who write from multiple POV’s need to watch the head hopping. This isn’t the first book I’ve put down because I feel like I’m on a pogo stick. I don’t think my head bounces around that much watching a tennis match. (Wimbledon anyone?).

I’m curious to hear what you all think. Have you noticed a preference in your reading material? Do the authors head hop or is there a clear delineation between the characters ‘talking’? Until I get a little more comfortable, I’ll keep my characters a little more separated. Hope you don’t mind!

Melanie

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6 thoughts on “Head Hopping…makes my head spin!

  1. The first version of my novel was head hopping, but i did break it down into sections. My tutor said it didn’t work and advised me to write the novel in first person from one point of view, but I’ve not gelled with that, i prefer the 3 different characters perspectives *deep sigh*

    I tend to go for books (as a reader) with an unusual structure and i tend to get a bit bored if the whole story is in first person from one characters perspective.

    xx

    1. I like the multiple points of view also, just not thrown at me all at once! I say write the novel you want to read, but fix as many things as possible that could possibly confuse the reader. If you want me to read any more, let me know πŸ™‚

  2. Head hopping drives me up a well and I’ve wanted (haven’t because it would damage the eReader!) throw more than a few books across the room. I’ve had to stop beta reading for someone because they just wouldn’t listen to me on this point.

    But I’m even worse in the sense I can’t stand reading omniscient POV either. UGH…runs screaming from the room waving hands wildly…

    I don’t mind multiple POV as long as we have a nice DEEP POV with clear breaks :cough: like an extra line between them or a chapter break :cough: And generally, I think three POV characters are enough for most romances.

    If I didn’t have to get ready for work, I could go on and on and on and you get the idea, LOL

      1. LOL. Yes, either would work. Funny you say down a well, I’m reading a Robert Langdon story and Dan Brown of course mentions Robert’s fall into the well as a child. πŸ™‚

    1. Yes, I definitely get the idea. This was a traditionally published author also, I saw an advertisement for another of their books the other day. Sigh. I’ll keep writing the way I do until I get more comfortable switching between them. πŸ™‚

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