Thursday, March 19, 2009

Pet Peeve #2

The world may be full of fourth-rate writers, but it's also full of fourth-rate readers. - Stan Barstow

Okay... next reading/writing pet peeve: POV breaks, or "head-hopping".

People always throw La Nora out when this comes up, so we'll just get her out of the way right now: love her or hate her, Nora Roberts IS who she is, and can write whatever she wants. Until other authors are as big as Nora, they should (IMHO) play by the POV rule.

I lurked on a group with many editors discussing this very issue once. It was about 50/50 as to whether they'd let authors head hop or not. And, things were typically ambiguous or random, stuff like, "If the POV swaps are smooth, it's okay." or "If it only happens once in a scene, it's okay." Of course, there were some who put their foot down and said: NO HEAD-HOPPING. They were my heroes.

Fact is, IMHO again, POV switches are never smooth. I always notice them. Some bug me less than others, but they don't slip under my POV purist radar.

Additionally, I think that head-hopping is just lazy on the author's part. Sometimes, it's HARD to get something across when you only stay in one character's head in a scene. It's also the reason that choosing your POV character is so important, and why when I'm struggling with a scene, I'll sometimes try to write it from the other character's POV to see if it works better.

And, no matter the argument, I firmly believe that people who DON'T care about POV switches also won't care if an author is a POV purist. BUT -- and this is important!! -- people like me who don't particularly like head-hopping? They're NOT going to like your work if you jump around POVs willy-nilly. They may have bought your work once, but they won't again. What's more, you won't get positive word-of-mouth from them.

I don't know about you, but I prefer to annoy the fewest number of people possible with my writing. I know not everyone will like what I do, but I can make an effort not to push hot buttons that I can avoid.

What do YOU think?


I have FOUR crocus that should bloom today -- and if the rain holds off this morning, I'll post pictures. Those of you down south are probably snickering at my excitement. After all, YOUR crocus bloomed two months ago. You're probably planting your veggie gardens.


Gratuitous pet picture -- because Breeann is seldom so undignified. She's only started doing this lately:

I think Dakota is rubbing off on her:



Ceri Hebert said...

LOL Love the pics. My cats do the same thing.

I am in the same mindset as you are about POVs. Of course wouldn't everyone want to be like NR and hop to and fro, but we can't. I'm generally very careful about my POVs, but when I was editing last night I found a head hop. Argh! And it wasn't even in a spot I could easily fix. Awkward! But I worked it out.

Enjoy your day!

Sarita Leone said...

I can't think...we have snow today. Snow! Ack.

The pics are too funny! Must be a family trait!

Keri Mikulski said...

Cute pics..

I agree on 'head hopping'. And I love the word you used to describe it. :)

Jennifer Shirk said...

I'm a POV purist, too!

Tori Lennox said...

I almost always write in first person which nips that whole head-hopping issue right in the bud. :)

Brandy said...

I'm not sure if head-hopping would put me off as a reader, I've read so many different POV's.....
As for planting? I haven't started yet, so no, we down here in the South haven't all started planting yet. Soon, like this weekend maybe. *G*

My cats do that all the time, but then again, my cats are CRAZY. *G*
I hope you have a delightful day!

Dru said...

Love the pictures. Too cute.

groovyoldlady said...

I don't mind certain POV changes; The Thoene's do a wonderful job with it in the Zion Chronicles. But their changes always (always) come with a new chapter and they're never in first person - it's more of a "Meanwhile, in THIS corner..." sort of switch.

As an author, I am not sharp enough to even try it. Fiction is not my forte; I am more of an essayist. Most of my writing is only written from from one POV. So I stick with that approach in my meager attempts at fiction.