Head Hopping Loses Readers
By Tonya Kinzer

 

      Have you ever wondered why some books are a faster read than others? Or perhaps why some books are a bit more confusing and harder to read and follow than other books? Think back on the last book you put down and never finished. Open it up and reread a few paragraphs again and see if the following isn't true.

      If the author is in a different character's head in every other paragraph or maybe every two paragraphs, the reader has to keep going up to reread those lines to figure out who's doing what or who's thinking what. Don't do this to your readers. Your book will end up sliding down the wall when they throw it!

      Try to stay in one character’s head at least through a scene if not through that entire chapter. What do I mean by staying in one character's head? Let's take a peek....if you're in Tom's head and he's watching a woman entire a bar and loves the sway of her hips that is making his blood heat, your reader is getting his thoughts on how he feels and what he sees. So when their eyes finally do meet, you can NOT write that she loves his blue eyes because you're NOT IN HER HEAD! TOM can see her eye color but you can't write anything at this point of HER thoughts or what she sees.

      Now remember back on a book that read so fast you hated that you finished it so quick. That is because the author didn't bounce you from one head to the other and constantly make you go back and reread lines. The writing is smooth and one thought easily leads to another because they all belong to the same character. Most likely the entire chapter read that way and the next chapter may have been in another character's POV. Point of View is all about head hopping...or NOT head hopping to be exact.

     I hope this has helped you understand POV a bit better. Go back and edit some of your work and if you have to do a few rewrites, so be it...Your work will be a better, smoother read for your audience! The same goes with dialogue tags...don't use them unless you have to, then keep them belonging to the character whose head you're in. Instead of dialogue tags, try this: 

"Care to buy me a drink?"  Her eyes held a promise of a longer night.(seen by Tom)

      You know right away that Tom didn't say this and it was done without adding 'she said'. Are there a few dialogue tags you might be able to remove as you edit? I hope this has also helped you a bit. Good luck and I hope to see you around the net!
 
 

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