Point of view usually isn’t a huge decision for me. For 99% of my work, it’s third person with a rotating viewpoint per chapter or scene. This serves my needs quite well most of the time. I wind up setting the scene in the head of the person it will impact the most. But every once in a while, I come across a scene that’s BIG, one that has serious impact on both the hero and the heroine. I’m there right now in my current WIP and facing the question of whether I want to do some exploration of third-person omniscient–aka head-hopping.
I’ve written about this before, talking about why I don’t do it and hitting some of the high points about why it’s often not a good idea. Very often it’s seen as unprofessional or a sign that you don’t know the rules as a writer. This would be because so many of the people who do it, do it very badly. And then you have people like Nora or Marjorie M. Liu who do it quite well–generally to the point that I don’t notice that’s what they’re doing. I am terrified of doing it very badly, which is why I’ve never deliberately chosen to use that POV.
I’m considering it now.
My current scene is the one where the hero and heroine meet and I am struggling with it because I want BOTH of their reactions and the way it’s currently written just isn’t working. His point of view, which comes first, works fine. I get all his reactions in, and I’m happy with it for a rough draft. But hers–hers isn’t working at all. When I mentioned to Pot that I was having trouble with this, she suggested (obviously enough) that I try writing it with both of them. So I may. I did not deliberately set out to head hop, but the story just may demand it.
I think that one of the reasons that so many people do it badly is that they try to incorporate too many perspectives and it just gets confusing. Right now I just want 2. Hero and heroine. The only other viewpoint character in the book is the bad guy. So maybe if I try the head hopping under those limited perspectives it might work. It’s worth a try anyway, and hey, it’s a first draft. If it doesn’t work, then I can always change it in revisions.
So what is your take on head-hopping? Love it? Hate it? Why? Let us know in comments.