Head Hopping

If there’s anything I’ve learned about writing these past few years, it’s that if you’ve chosen a point of view character, you stick with him or her.  You don’t head-hop, you don’t mind-meld (unless you’re writing fantasy, maybe), and you don’t intrude other characters’ thoughts or feelings unless they can realistically be picked up by the POV individual.  This seems so obvious that when I reread Chapter 2 of my Free Souls novel I was shocked to see how much head-hopping was going on.

Now, in this story I purposely alternate POV between my heroine and my hero.  But I thought I was doing it by whole chapters.  Nope, not in this case.  So whether I wanted to or not, I had to decide who had the bulk of the introspection in Chapter 2 and give the POV to her.  I lost a phrase or two I really liked in consequence, but it couldn’t be helped.

I’m going to break this rule when it comes to the love scene.  Frankly, I like it the way I have it, alternating between the two protagonists in a single chapter.  Really, a love scene shouldn’t be from just one point of view, if you’re trying to convey the mutuality of it.  At least, that’s what I think.

In the novel I’m currently working on, I’ve got a POV issue in a couple places I haven’t settled yet.  In that case there’s only one point of view character, but there is a time or two when I want the reader to know that a second person is there observing my protagonist and to see what that person sees, even though my main character knows nothing at all about it.  Fortunately, I have a goodish bit of writing to do before I have to deal with it.

But if any writers should happen to drop by this blog, how have you solved this problem?  Can you think of any published fiction where the author briefly shifts POV, and gets away with it?  I’d love to know.

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