Point of View~ Are You Head-Hopping?


Point of View means you’re viewing a story through a certain person’s eye. That character or narrator is relating events. You see only what they see. It’s a very touchy subject amidst authors and editors. Authors want control when they write, sometimes, to be able to show what’s going on by relating the responses of EVERY character. This is head hopping and very confusing to the reader unless executed extremely well. An editor wants the reader to become part of the story, to relate to the characters. This is difficult to experience when the author is constantly moving from one mind to another. This point of view, omniscient, is helpful to set a scene but keeps the reader from feeling a part of the story.

1st person– (I) see everything. I walked to the store. I smelled flowers. The reader only knows what I saw and heard. Most every editor will tell you that this is the HARDEST POV to write because you have to remember what verb tense to use. Do you say, I walk to the store, or, I walked to the store? Are you talking about the present or the past? Since most fiction is written in past tense, it’s difficult to write 1st person and keep all your verbs correct. The most hilarious book that I’ve read in 1st person is a chick-lit by a friend of mine, Bonnie Blythe. I got to help with edits before publication. Claire’s Not-So-Gothic Romance

2nd person– (You) see everything. You walk to the store. You smell the flowers. The reader only knows what you see and hear.

3rd person– (Jane, Joe, or John) see everything. If Jane walked to the store, the reader knows it. If Jane sees Joe smell flowers, the reader knows it. But the reader doesn’t know how John feels about any of this because we don’t hear his voice, his point of view, as narrator. We only hear Jane, THEN we hear Joe if the author switches to portraying the scene through his eyes. Third person is considered the best for fiction. You write a scene in one character’s view then switch to another character for a continuation of that scene or a new scene. You are limited at one time to what one character thinks, feels, sees, hears, or smells. You can, however, view the other characters through that one person’s eyes. Like if Jane walked to the store and dropped a can on Joe’s foot, we can see Joe hop on his other foot because Jane can see it.

When I first began writing, I wrote in omniscient because I didn’t know better. Editors ate me alive. I went back and re-wrote every book. It was heart-wrenching when I had to delete some prime material because it was seen through the wrong character’s eyes. It made me a better writer because I was forced to find new ways to show the same material in another manner. Most of the time, I write in 3rd person because I like to switch between the hero and the heroine. In the Natasha Kelly, Mossad Spy series, the first three books are written mostly from Natasha’s perspective because I am hiding things from the reader. I don’t want the reader to know which young man will capture Natasha’s heart. I don’t want the reader to know who is bad and who is good.

Someday, I’d like to try a murder mystery from the POV of the murderer. Agatha Christie is famous for this, or should I say infamous? She wrote an entire book from the POV of a narrator who turns out to be the murderer. Brilliant! I won’t tell you which book. 😉