Monday, March 7, 2011

Rainy Days and Mondays - To head hop or not to head hop? That is the question.

Are you a head hopper? I’ve been known to head hop on occasion. I admit it. However, before my manic head hopping ways could make it out into the world, my editor caught me and put paid to my head hopping days.
Wait. You don’t know what head hopping is? Well, it’s when you are trucking along in your novel from one point of view, and from one paragraph to the next, BAM, you’re in someone else’s head. Editors will tell you this is verboden - an absolute no-no. Let me show you what they never want you to do.
Love scene: (If you’re not legal, skip to the regular text now!)
Laura let her fingers slide through John’s silky hair and trace their way down his spine, revelling in his responding shiver. She arched her back as his lips nibbled and caressed their way down her throat, her cleavage, past her navel, pausing in their play to elicit a gasp of longing from her. Each and every thought left her until only sensation remained.
He couldn’t get enough of the taste of her. The slightly salty tang combined with her own unique essence tested his control. John wanted all of her, now. Her texture so soft and inviting under his tongue, responding to the slightest increase in pressure convulsed him with desire. His journey down her body continued until he reached her molten core.
Well now, what was I telling you about? Ah yes, head hopping. In the example above we go from Laura’s POV (point of view) in the first paragraph, directly into John’s POV in the second. There are no page breaks, or ***, or even a chapter break in between. This is head hopping. And though it can be used to great effect during emotionally charged scenes, it can also jar a reader right out of the moment, ruining whatever tension may have been built to that point.
So, how come you’ll find head hopping being done by authors like Nora Roberts? Maybe it’s because once you reach a certain level of fame you can break the rules. Hm. Perhaps it’s because her editor doesn’t know this rule. Doubtful. I think, just maybe, it’s because she is good enough to head hop without leaving her readers floundering.
Ah, to have that level of talent. To showcase an emotionally packed scene from both characters point of view - and have it make sense! How awesome would that be? Now that we all know I drool at the thought of being a professional head hopper, what do all of you think?
Should there be one rule for everyone? No Head Hopping Allowed, Period. What about for those writers out there who have the talent and the know how to break the rule? Tell me what you think.


Picture supplied by Dreamstime


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