Thursday, March 17, 2011

POV Slippage

I don't know about you, but before I started to write seriously, I didn't mind head-hopping. Didn't bother me in the least.

Now I know better. And it bothers me. Really bothers me. Like through the book across the room bothers me.

It took me some time before I grew to hate head hopping. When I first wrote Woman of Honor, there were a few instances - ok, more than just a few - where I head-hopped. Whoops!

I recently got my edits back for Champion of Valor. I was so pleased that there was only one instance of POV slippage (of course I wish that I had caught them all but still only missing one is definitely a step in the right head-firmly-attached-not-going-anywhere direction).

The offender: Her face paled.

At first glance this might not seem like a POV slip. I, for one, can actually feel myself go pale, but that's just it - I feel it, I can't see it. Her face paled is fine when the her in question is not the person whose POV the scene is in. But in this case, it is. So yes, this is a POV slip.

How did I fix it? A wave of weakness washed over her, and she could feel the blood drain from her face.

Does head-hopping bother you? What areas have you tackled to overcome to make your writing better?


Unknown said...

I started off the same way. Luckily some peeps helped me out. Now when I help friends out, I'm the first to mention it!

Cherie Reich said...

Yeah, I every so often will make a mistake like that. I've been much more aware of it, though. Before I started learning about writing, those things didn't bother me, but they do now. Live and learn. :)

Angela said...

I think head hopping is harder not to do in 3rd person. But I'm new to this, am I wrong?

Kristine Asselin said...

Excellent point, Nicole! I still do this occasionally too. It's amazing how things like that start to jump out at you after a while!

Theresa Milstein said...

At first I didn't know what you meant by heading hopping, but now I think you mean telling instead of showing.

I think we can do a combination. Her face paled is a nice and clean 3 words. Your second sentence shows more, but it's longer. Too many showings can drag a thing out too. It's also a good time to put in a simile or analogy that works with the MC. Her face resembled chalk as she spluttered in front of a roomful of students.

Christina Lee said...

oooh that is a GREAT example-- and the exact reason my betas accuse me of using "feel" too much (she felt her cheeks flush, for example)--*sigh*

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Too many characters and head hopping distracts me. I start to wonder "Okay, who's talking now? What happened?"

Unknown said...
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Giselle Renarde said...

Same here. Head-hopping drives me nuts now, especially when I'm editing works by other authors because then I have to fix it, obviously. :-)

When I first started writing, I felt much more comfortable in 1st person because you really can't screw up your POV. One little exercise that helped me "learn" deep 3rd was to write in 1st person and then "translate" into 3rd by making "I" into "she" etc. After a while, the flow became natural. Any author having POV problems could give that a go--it works!


Carol Riggs said...

Yes, generally head-hopping bugs me. I write deep/close third-person POV so I TRY to make everything only from that character's viewpoint. It's perfectly acceptable in an omniscient viewpoint, but it still jars me sometimes when I read it in a published book.

Unknown said...

I recently began writing fiction and my problem is getting the story started.It`s more like stage fright than writer`s block?Any suggestions? I also hate head hopping.I guess that`s why revising is so important.