Head Hopping vs Multiple Points of View, Is There a Difference?

The only reason I'm bringing this up is because I made a comment on someone else's blog that was responded to in such a manner that I don't think the commenter quite understood the difference.

I use multiple points-of-view in my Rocky Bluff P. D. series. The main reason I do this is because there is a large case of characters in these crime novels and the only way to really show what happens with each person when he or she is on the job and when they are dealing with what's going on at home is to use multiple points of view.

I do this by only using one person's view point per scene--and when I switch the viewpoint character there is a space break.

Most thrillers are written from multiple points of view because there are many characters working toward the same goal--usually  to save the world from some catastrophe or to make the catastrophe happen.

My Rocky Bluff series is far from a thriller--it has many of the components of a mystery, but it is more than that as I try to show how these police officers have problems at home and how these problems can affect how them when they are on the job.

So, what is head-hopping? Head-hopping is when in one scene a the story may be told by one character from his point of view and then jump into another character's point of view all in the same scene. I've even seen this happen with several characters including the dog. Not a good practice.

The best way to avoid this is to decide who has the most at stake in a scene and see and tell it through the eyes of that character.  See what happens as the character would--what is going on, who is doing what, what the POV character feels (touch and internally), hears, smells, etc.

Hope this helps.


Cora said…
That's a tricky one. I am writing one right now that has two main characters. They have their own perceptions at each double drop--very necessary so I can keep the movement going but I try to keep the head switching in one scene to a minimum--something not always possible when I want to get what each is thinking about current situation. I understand that there is more acceptance toward doing this from what I have read and heard.
Lorna Collins - said…
AMEN! Head hopping drives me NUTS! And it is quite often used in romance novels. Changing POV is not an issue, but trying to keep track of whose POV you're in is exhausting. When I am editing, it's one of the things I always point out. however the author sometimes insists on keeping it the way they wrote it.
MKC said…
You should use ONLY one point of view per scene. If you want to show what others are thinking, do it by what they say and do.
Yes, folks, I don't like head hopping at all. I know that romance writers do it--even back and forth, especially in a sex scene--but frankly I think it's lazy writing.
Lesley Diehl said…
Very clear and concise discussion. Head hopping came up last night as I was reading a book by a well-known and favorite author. Oops for her and her editor!

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