@groaner, I sometimes wonder that the more I learn about writing the less I enjoy about reading. I think authonomy has ruined my ability to just read, now I analyse everything to death. Definitely Posted: 06/05/2012 21:37:40
@groaner, I sometimes wonder that the more I learn about writing the less I enjoy about reading. I think authonomy has ruined my ability to just read, now I analyse everything to death.
24 days ago
I can't watch movies now without analyzing the script. I see plot holes and I can often figure out what will happen much earlier than the rest of my family because I understand how the writers put together a story. I can usually also spot a terrible script up front. Posted: 06/05/2012 21:40:51
1 day ago
Head hopping is ok if you are God-like. Posted: 06/05/2012 21:45:53
10 days ago
The thing about great authors who constantly head-hop is that they are not, in fact, head-hopping. What they are doing is staying rigidly with the narrator's POV and, because the narrator is the story's god and naturally knows what all the characters are thinking, they give the appearance of head-hopping.
For me, real head-hopping is when the narrator is relying on one character to tell/show the story (eg first POV or close-third POV, or multiple-third POVs in sequence), but then breaks the POV barrier to give a glimpse of a different character's thinking about the situation ... often in the same paragraph, or sentence.
If I know from the outset that the author is using an omni (ie narrator's) POV, I have no problems when I get information fired at me rapidly from different characters. If I get a sentence from one character's POV when I've just spent 10 pages following the story from a different character's POV - that's when I throw my dolly out of the pram. Posted: 06/05/2012 21:52:25Last Edit: 06/05/2012 21:54:21 by KaliedaRik
30 days ago
I didn’t do it, but only because I knew I shouldn’t. But what I am really wondering is why shouldn’t I? why shouldn't anyone? Who decided that it was a problem?
Does head-hopping really jar narrative, or do we just think it does because we have been educated to think so? What I mean is, does the average reader even notice?
Posted: 06/05/2012 22:12:54Last Edit: 06/05/2012 22:14:51 by Jannypeacock
6 mins ago
I hadn't thought about it before, but I agree with KaliedaRik
The best example of head hopping that comes to mind was in Debatable Space by Philip Palmer (a first novel, incidently).
The scene was a ship under attack and it jumped through each of the characters' heads, giving their take on what was happening. It worked because of the god POV thing KaliedaRik mentioned, and because it was done for a good reason, humor in this case. Posted: 06/05/2012 22:26:45
Something not mentioned in the posts above is the potential damage head-hopping can do to tension. Quite simply, most of us make decisions based on a limited amount of knowledge because we are neither omnipresent nor omniscient. We can admire the bravery and intelligence of a character who weighs up the odds and takes action and, if the writer's done a good job, our hopes and fears go with the character. But if we are constantly privy to rather more than the character knows: if we can see through another character's eyes that his assumptions and knowledge were false then we no can no longer admire and fear for a character but only see someone about to make a terrible mistake.
Head-hopping simply undercuts the tension before it gets a chance to grow.
Contrarily now, using multiple viewpoints wisely can add rather more to the tension than can be got from one viewpoint only. Imagine:
chapter/scene 1 sees character A about to do something rather dangerous but he has adjudged the risk acceptable. We see his precautions and activities up to the point of commitment. We know there is danger but believe the character is smart enough not to get himself killed.
chapter/scene 2 sees character B notice something crucial to character A's safety but intercede fractionally too late. We now believe character A is doomed.
chapter/scene 3 returns us character A but something neither A nor B were aware of intercedes at the last minute and saves the day.
For a masterclass in tension go look at a scene in the film Don't Look Now. The MC is hoisted on a scaffold high above the ground to inspect a mosaic on a church wall. We are with him as he works with a magnifying glass and all is shot in close up. Then the scene cuts away for a half second and in long-shot we see a plank of wood dislodged in the cburch roof. Back with the MC, more close up. Cut away long shot to the falling plank. Close up again and now we've made the connection and anticipate the moment of the plank smashing into the scaffold where the MC is working. Had we stayed in close up with the MC's pov throughout, there would have been no tension.
You might also think of it in terms of trying to impress a memeber of the opposite sex. The dramtic tension comes from not knowing what they're thinking. Posted: 06/05/2012 22:37:01Last Edit: 06/05/2012 22:38:20 by colin smith
Readers are very used to omni POV, if only because it's by far the commonest film/drama technique - where the camera is the effective POV, but isn't a character in the film. Even when the camera mainly follows one character for most of the film, the director will often include cut-away shots to pick up something that's happening out of that character's immediate vicinity, thus giving the viewer information that the character doesn't know. Posted: 06/05/2012 23:16:24
Colin that’s an excellent point about tension. In thriller, for example, it is almost impossible to build sufficient tension while remaining solely in one POV. It’s often necessary to have the reader privy to a pending situation that the MC is unaware of so the reader can being to anticipate how the scene will climax once the MC becomes involved. This drama is unachievable if we remain solidly in the MC head.
That said, I still wonder about the execution of multiple POVs and how they are tolerated by the reader. The fact is a writer can write their story any way they like, using as many or as little POV’s as they choose. It will be at the discretion of the reader whether or not they like the author’s style. On authonomy we are, conscious of it or not, constantly measuring one book against another. We rarely read a book simply for the story. We look for style, structure, pace etc. The average reader picking up a book in shop, does not. We are perhaps our own worst enemies. Setting rules and guidelines for the technical aspect of writing that must be obeyed but there is little mention of the fact the story shouldn’t bore the pants of a reader in the process.
Posted: 07/05/2012 14:04:08Last Edit: 07/05/2012 14:05:55 by Jannypeacock
Not sure I agree with the last part about the 'average' reader. Then again, as my taste is lit-fic, perhaps I am not the average reader. I don't read any book just for the story, since if that was so I'd just get the synopsis of Amazon and be done with it. Nor, on the other hand, do I analyse a book for pace, etcetera. I do look for the author to intrigue me with the way he tells the story and expect to be surprised, tricked, and entertained. Posted: 07/05/2012 18:15:52
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