Head hopping gives me whiplash

Now, as my crit partners will attest, I have a few pet peeves. Too stupid to live characters. Inconsistent motivations. Trite and heavy handed symbolism. But far worse than any of those, the dreaded HEAD HOP. Head hopping is where you change perspectives on the story frequently. I don’t mean like Maggie Stiefvater and changing it every chapter. That’s not head hopping, just multiple narrators. Head hopping happens multiple times per chapter, without any apparent rhyme or reason to why it switches where it does.

It’s often a crutch for lazy writers. For example, in one book, a woman and a man are arguing. When she makes a low blow, it switches to his POV. When he then makes an equally low blow, it’s back to hers. Add other problems to this that are already dragging the book down, and about 1/3rd of the way into the book, I had to put it down and walk away. As a writer? You don’t want to lose your reader like that.

It’s FAR easier to show internal thoughts, physical reactions from the person’s own pov than from the opposite person. Think about it. You can describe feeling like their words made your head spin, but can you describe that look on someone else’s face? It’s a LOT harder. So I understand why people do it. In some of my earlier writing, I did it too. Heck, my high school fanfic writing, I don’t think I had anything consistent in the POVs, but would follow whoever it made sense to at the time, like a camera. But no one ever said this whole writing thing was supposed to be EASY to do. If there’s not aspects that challenge you, you’re not doing it right. Take those challenges. Grow as a writer. You’ll only get better.

I think that’s important to realize. I know some of my friends get discouraged, because when I edit, I edit harshly. I try to point out the good things too, but there are some projects where it’s like, there’s so much wrong with it that I feel like Tim Gunn when he gets that frown on his face. Except for this, “Make it work” with a dismissive hand wave doesn’t work. I won’t crit for people I don’t see potential in. I’m pickier as a critter than as a reader. Reading, I only have to put in ~3 hours of my life usually for your average novel. Critting, it takes at least double that, minimum. I can’t skim when I get bored critting. I have to walk away from it, and go back to it, and keep slogging at worst.

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1 Comment

  1. October 19, 2012 at 9:02 am

    YAY for awesome crit parnters! 😀


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