Thursday, June 25, 2009

Multiple POVs or Head Hopping?

Now that I've done the rewrite on my WIP from first to third person, I'm facing the dilemma of just how many points of view are necessary. Do I want several points of view from the get-go? Do I want just the heroine's point of view from the start then add the hero later? Do I want the villain's point of view? So many choices!

I've read quite a few romances lately and I've noticed that quite a few romance authors hop around between the heroine's and hero's points of view, sometimes in alternating paragraphs, sections or scenes. Especially in intense scenes you'll get the same scene from both points of view switching back and forth. I personally don't have a problem with this. It makes the scene seem more intense and if it's well done, as a reader you know how each character is reacting to the same set of circumstances. It makes the story seem more intimate.

However, sometimes it's distracting or downright confusing if it's not handled right because as a reader you can easily get confused as to whose head you're in.

I've gone back and looked through some of my other fave novels and this intimate head-hopping-within-a-scene seems to be unique to the romance genre (yeah, this is my own little non-scientific study of my personal library). Authors of other genres seem to keep their points of view consistent through entire scenes, and more often entire chapters, before they switch to a different character, if they do at all.

Of course there have been volumes written on POV, the do's and don'ts, etc. What about mixing and matching POV throughout a story? I'm tempted to throw caution and convention to the wind and just write and see what I get. As writers, what's your preference? Does it depend on genre? As readers, how is POV handled in your fave novels? What do you like best?

9 comments:

Amie Stuart said...

I'm such a throwback to the sixties--do what feels good (heeh).

As a writer and a reader I prefer first person but I don't totally discount third person. One of the reasons I LOVE Lisa Gardner is her ability to weave a web with multiple POV's that just draws you in tighter and tighter...then BAM! Right upside the head. Never saw it coming *sigh*

Rebecca said...

I think as writer it's hard to write multiple POVs simply because you're in the process of creating chracters..

But as a reader, it makes teh writing far more interesting... porvided it's done correctly, and I know who's thinking what.

Lynnette Labelle said...

You mentioned a villain... Did you write a romantic suspense novel or straight romance?

(E-mail me the answer or leave a message on my blog because I'll be away on vacation as of tomorrow, so I'll miss whatever you write here.)
Lynnette Labelle
http://lynnettelabelle.blogspot.com

Little Ms Blogger said...

As a reader, I think it would be great to know the POV of the other character. Makes me feel like I'm right there.

Angie Ledbetter said...

I don't mind multiple POVs as long as they don't happen in the same chapter.

Kathryn Magendie said...

It's just my personal pet peeve that I hate head-hopping - multiple POV's in the same paragraph/chapter/section.

I don't mind a novel with multiple POV's if they are separated by a chapter .. . but head hopping drives me insane - because I have to adjust my thinking and that bumps me from the flow of the story.

I'm not a romance reader, so I don't know if that's "true to the genre" -

I've read a couple books lately with multiple POV's switching around and while one of them did it pretty well, I still didn't enjoy the story as much as I would have if it had been from one POV....

Cheryl said...

I've never read a novel with multiple POVs in the same scene. Course when you think about it, third person omniscient basically does the same thing, only through the voice of a single narrator.

I always wonder why a writer writes in one or multiple voices. Sometimes when one voice is used I wish I could know what other characters are thinking. And when multiple voices are used I sometimes wish one voice were better developed or used more often, esp. if that character is especially likable. So, I'd never recommend what another writer should do, except to use what you're most compelled to use. Maybe just try it. It's easier to delete than to rewrite.

Terri Tiffany said...

I do a few but I keep them in separate chapters so far. I'd like to do them in the same chapter with scene changes as I have seen it done well that way.

Alyssa Kirk said...

Having multiple POV's is fine as long as you do it right. If you start switching POV's in the same chapter it will get confusing and frustrate the reader is more the likely to get frustrate, but if you separate them with a chapter this no reason why you shouldn't have multiple POV's!