"Take it back!" Linda screamed. Bill's anger hit a high level and she knew he didn't care about her. (Linda's POV) "No, I won't!" Bill yelled back. Linda hated him. He knew she wanted to hit him. (Bill's POV)
Oh, bad... How do these characters know what each is thinking? No, it's not about telepathy! Maybe not a great example but I think the 'point' is clear.
The other day author Dayana Knight talked a bit about POV on her blog and got some good responses. That in turn prompted me to seek out articles I may have on POV to share on my own blog.
From my first fiction story, I started collecting information on writing. So I searched my files but didn't find much on POV. I think that's because I didn't have a big problem with POV or the dreaded head-hop. I've never liked seeing blatant head hopping within the stories I read or write. But I did find one interesting idea for correcting POV and other habits that need work:
Have you heard your POV transitions are rough? That your POV head hops or your characters lack depth. If you have, you can correct these problems with a little practice.
Consider the Method Acting process. The actor wills himself to become the character he’s playing. Some actors/actresses meticulously research their role prior to filming or a stage appearance. Renee Zelweger worked two weeks in a London office to train for her role in the movie "Bridget Jones’ Diary." She became a London office worker in order to play one on screen.
What’s the point of this information for a writer? While writing, the author must practice Method Writing and become the character. Whether telling the scene from the POV of the hero, heroine, or even the villain, an author must relate the scene's experiences from that character’s body and mind. Therefore, the author should record only those things the POV character experiences.
In my example Linda cannot know what Bill is thinking, she can only guess from his facial expression and his body language. And the same is true for Bill, of course.
Head Hopping: It's true Nora Roberts head hops, and wouldn't we all like to be another Nora? However, it's a mistake to think that because she does it, everyone else can too. We lesser mortals have to follow the rules, at least until we're famous enough to break them.
That means no more than one or two POV changes per scene, and the fewer changes the better. If you master Method Writing, you'll eliminate head hopping because you'll be immersed in the POV character and record events as if you had become that character. More importantly, because you are deeply in the character’s POV, you'll pull the reader into the story as well. That's the goal--to make the reader lose himself/herself in our stories.
Transitions: When you change points of view, make a smooth way for the reader with a signal. At the first of the paragraph in the new POV, use a pronoun or noun to indicate the new POV. Don't cause the reader to back up and reread a paragraph to see who is speaking or internalizing. That takes the reader out of the story. Many editors and publishers don't like head hopping, especially line-to-line hopping from one character's head (POV) to another.
That's not to say you can't write in multiple POV. Especially including the hero's as well as the heroine's POV. But do it either chapter by chapter or at least with a good transition leading from one character to the other and in a different scene.
Life Experience: This determines a character’s thoughts, dialogue, and actions. The same is true for an internal dialogue—the character’s impressions reflect these experiences. For instance, if your heroine bakes pastry and bread to sell and she meets a brown-eyed man, she may think his eyes are the color of cinnamon. On the other hand, a painter might think brown eyes are the color burnt umber.
Don’t forget to surround the character with the senses. What does the character see, feel, taste, hear, smell, sense, and perceive as reactions from the others in the scene? Immerse the reader in the character’s impressions, but don't dump them all in one paragraph. Slip them in subtly as the scene progresses.
And that leads to another point! Don't miss my guest blogger, Helen Hardt as she talks about sensory detail... Coming this week!
As always, your comments and ideas are welcome. What do you think about the subject of head hopping and POV?