Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Leap Frog

Ay yi yi... this really bugs people when they read your writing. POV. There's lots of different perspectives, and they are all pretty viable options for telling a story. But one has definitely earned a disapproving eye from editors. THIRD PERSON OMNISCIENT is dangerous. Now we get to explore why I have so fondly titled this post, "Leap Frog."

One of the worst things about third person omniscient is what we like to call, "head hopping." Believe me, I've been called out on this little mistake.

So what is Head Hopping?

Head hopping is when the reader is allowed to know the thoughts of all characters involved in a scene. 

Do we get it just a little now? Essentially, Head Hopping is just outright confusing to read. The reader hops from one head to the other. In one paragraph, they are listening in on the thoughts of John Boy and the next they get to hear how much Sally Jane thinks John Boy smells. Back and forth. Back and forth. It's really no good at all.

So what do we do then?

Well, THIRD PERSON LIMITED is the next best thing. Stay in ONE characters head for the duration of the scene. If you'd like, create a SCENE BREAK and then change to another's head. Make the transition very obvious. (if it's a novel you're working on, try not to go into the heads of more than 3 characters)

And if you've never considered it, try FIRST PERSON. That's always an interesting change of pace. (avoid first person present because the tense of that POV is hard to handle as a reader, though it is accepted). I would list SECOND PERSON, but that's not a very popular one, just because it takes skill to do well and few write in second person for Christian Markets. I can't say how editors will receive it.

SO! No more leap frog.


No comments:

Post a Comment