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Laurie2
August 4th, 2008, 10:49 PM
As we discussed yesterday, head-hopping happens when there are shifts in viewpoint which occur without the author signaling the change or anchoring the viewpoint in the receiving character's point of view. Often head hopping occurs in the middle of paragraphs. See the examples below:

John stared at Leslie, his eyes flashing fire as flames of righteous anger licked through him. How could she have betrayed him?

(Can you find the head hop in the example above?)

It's the portion where his eyes flashed fire. Flashing is visual. If I am John and I am inside John's body then I can't see my own eyes flashing fire...and if I were angry, as John is, I wouldn't be thinking about my own eyes. I might however feel the flames of righteous anger lick through me. Therefore his eyes flashing fire is a head hop. Flames of righteous anger is not a head hop.

Here's another example:

Rebecca forced herself to loosen her death grip on the steering wheel. The death grip on the steering wheel was John's fault, as was the policeman who stood outside the car's window tapping on the glass. If it hadn't been for his parting shot she wouldn't have been so angry and she wouldn't have felt the need to ease her fury by pressing the accelerator nearly to the floor. She pushed the button and attempted her brightest smile for the cop who stood just outside her window peering down at her as he replayed the near crash that had resulted from her speeding through a red light at the corner of Elm and Ash.

(Did you find the head hop in this example?)

The viewpoint shifts in a head hop when the cop replays the near crash. The early portion of the paragraph is in Rebecca's viewpoint. Then suddenly it switches to the cop when he replays. If I am Rebecca and I am inside her body I can't know what he is replaying in his mind.

How about an example of a head hop in dialogue?

"You are without doubt the most despicable man I've ever met." Jane dipped her head and studied her fingernails. She didn't know what else to say, what else she could say. She'd already said it all, and none of it made any difference. He was leaving her and there was nothing she could say or do about it.

"I never meant for it to be like this Janey. It's just..." His mind wandered as he thought back to the early days of their relationship. She had seemed so perfect then.

"You never mean to do any of the idiotic things you do. That's just the problem." She sighed, finding it hard to believe she'd ever thought their relationship was perfect.

(Can you find the hops? There are two of them.)

The first one occurs when his mind wandered.
The second occurs when she finds it hard to believe.

The best way to make sure that you don't head hop is to envision yourself INSIDE your viewpoint character, experiencing each scene as it unfolds. Many authors replay their scenes mentally as if they are watching a movie being played out in their mind's eye. The problem is this puts you OUTSIDE the character watching the scene unfold. Instead you need to be INSIDE as the scene unfolds. Replay the scene, but be a participant in the scene. Make sure as you replay the scene that you only experience those things which you can experience if you are inside the viewpoint character.

Is head hopping a bit more clear to everyone now?

We will move on to signaling, anchoring, and passing the baton.

Jean Kelli
August 5th, 2008, 03:57 PM
Yes, very clear.

Also, I think playing the scene out in my head like a movie works well, so long as I just go from outside to inside while writing the scene. Or would it be better to watch it like a movie from only one viewpoint at a time, and then go craft the scene in that viewpoint? ...hmmm.

Laurie2
August 5th, 2008, 05:57 PM
Hi Kelli,

I don't want to mess with anyone else's process. All authors have their own process that works for them...and as long as yours is working for you rejoice and don't feel like you need to follow my process.

For me, I probably replay any scene in my head a hundred times or more before I write it...this is because I have so many ideas and am a very SLOW writer. I tend to play the movie from outside the character, from inside one character, and then from inside the other character. By replaying it so many times I get more of a feel for the power of the scene and whose viewpoint will tell it more powerfully.

When I am actually ready to write the scene I then play it a few times in my head from INSIDE the character I have chosen as the viewpoint character. If another character has strong emotions within the scene I may replay those as well and look for a place to switch viewpoint. Then I write. WHILE writing I often stop to replay the scene in my mind again...from the viewpoint of the character I am using for that particular passage.

It works for me. If it works for you take it, borrow it, use it. If it doesn't then stick with what does work for you. As authors we all have our own methods for doing the work we do. The proof is really in the pudding. :)

Laurie


Yes, very clear.

Also, I think playing the scene out in my head like a movie works well, so long as I just go from outside to inside while writing the scene. Or would it be better to watch it like a movie from only one viewpoint at a time, and then go craft the scene in that viewpoint? ...hmmm.

Cindy Maday
August 5th, 2008, 06:28 PM
Laurie,
I really like that idea of playing the scene from each POV in your head. Thank you. I'm going to work with that.

Cindy

Laurie2
August 5th, 2008, 07:46 PM
Hi Cindy,

I feel that it really helps me to choose the point of view to start a scene in...and it helps me to see where the balance of emotion changes and where it might be a good idea to change viewpoint. I tend to like to write scenes from the viewpoint with the most emotional scenery to chew. Playing it over mentally makes it easy to put it in slow motion, take it apart and really see who has the strongest emotion in the scene.

Laurie


Laurie,
I really like that idea of playing the scene from each POV in your head. Thank you. I'm going to work with that.

Cindy

stargazer
August 6th, 2008, 11:23 AM
Thank you SO much Laurie. Your examples of head hopping were totally different than what I had envisoned. They opened up a whole new way of looking at my writing. stargazer

Laurie2
August 8th, 2008, 02:17 PM
Hi Stargazer,

Great! I'm glad that the examples of head hopping opened up a new way of looking at your writing. :)

Laurie


Thank you SO much Laurie. Your examples of head hopping were totally different than what I had envisoned. They opened up a whole new way of looking at my writing. stargazer

rgraham666
August 10th, 2008, 08:24 AM
I did a fair bit of head hopping in my earlier works. I solved it by writing a lot of stuff in first person.

Trying my hand at third again. Hopefully I know better by now. ;)