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Susan Littlefield
07-15-2011, 05:00 AM
For as long as I have been writing, a very long time, I have been told head hopping is taboo, a no-no. When you change point of view of a character, you make it clear with a section or chapter break.

Recently, I found book titled Mistaken Identity, a true life account of families finding out their children in an accident- one dead and the other in the hospital-had switched identities. The book is written by the two involved families and a published religious author. The publisher is an imprint of Simon and Schuster.

The head hopping is prevalent from the start, but I think I know why. From the beginning, the writers made it clear that all people in the situation have been equally effected.

I don't get the sense the story is being told in omniscient point of view.

I don't think it's working because I want to sympathize with someone, even though it's a true life account.

Have you seen any other books, whether fiction or non-fiction, where head hopping has worked? This might be a silly little subject, but I would love to hear your thoughts.

thothguard51
07-15-2011, 06:37 AM
Only in omniscient do I accept such head hopping, though right now I can not think of any tittles off hand.

Susan Littlefield
07-15-2011, 06:42 AM
Nick,

it's non-fiction. In the prologue, the authors said they combined some events for readability. I don't know, it does not remind me of omniscient.

I have read some non-fiction true crime stories, but I have never encountered this blatant style of writing.

Jamesaritchie
07-15-2011, 04:00 PM
I tried reading it. It comes across as poorly written omniscient to me.

smcc360
07-15-2011, 04:03 PM
Only in omniscient do I accept such head hopping, though right now I can not think of any tittles off hand.

Larry McMurtry's Lonesome Dove hopped around a lot, as do Jonathan Hayes's mystery novels Precious Blood and A Hard Death. It's very effective the way they do it, with no doubt about when or to whom the POV has shifted.

Phaeal
07-15-2011, 05:41 PM
Thanks. Now The Rocky Horror Writers' Workshop is playing in my overworked brain:

Let's do the Head Hop again! Let's do the Head Hop again!

In the Glee version.

Susan Littlefield
07-15-2011, 06:24 PM
I tried reading it. It comes across as poorly written omniscient to me.

Thank you! It's funny you should say that, too, because I wondered if it was omniscient, but then decided it was not.

I can't read any further, because it make my brain hurt.

Susan Littlefield
07-15-2011, 06:25 PM
Thanks. Now The Rocky Horror Writers' Workshop is playing in my overworked brain:

Let's do the Head Hop again! Let's do the Head Hop again!

In the Glee version.

:roll:

Glad I could entertain you.

V. Greene
07-15-2011, 11:37 PM
Maeve Binchy's Evening Class head-hops a lot. It didn't bug me as much as it does when anyone else does it, but I did still notice it was happening, and I really hate noticing stylistic choices when I'm reading for fun.

Since an Irish writing buddy of mine also did it more than most Americans I know, I wondered idly if it was one of those geographic signatures that happen in the English language. England uses u's where America does not, Canada uses different commas, Ireland head-pops.... Thoughts?

Susan Littlefield
07-16-2011, 05:50 AM
V., excellent point. However, I read widely, and I don't find myself reading many fiction books with a lot of head-hopping. I have read some novels that do have head hopping, but it's usually pretty subtle.

Karen Junker
07-16-2011, 05:56 AM
Nora Roberts is said to have never met a POV she didn't like. Her books have head-hopping like mad in them, yet the writing is so fluent it still works. You never really notice it because you get so caught up in the storytelling. Or at least I never notice it, even though she is famous for it.

thothguard51
07-16-2011, 06:21 AM
But who is the narrator in Nora Roberts books?

Sarah Madara
07-16-2011, 06:25 AM
Have you seen any other books, whether fiction or non-fiction, where head hopping has worked?

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo series seems to have a lot of head-hopping. The narration is technically omniscient, I think, but sloppy in its execution. I wouldn't say it works for me personally, but you can't argue with the sales.

Susan Littlefield
07-16-2011, 06:45 AM
Sarah,

I agree you can't argue with sales. I did a Google search Mistaken Identity was also was also on the bestseller list.

Susan Littlefield
07-16-2011, 06:48 AM
Nora Roberts is said to have never met a POV she didn't like. Her books have head-hopping like mad in them, yet the writing is so fluent it still works. You never really notice it because you get so caught up in the storytelling. Or at least I never notice it, even though she is famous for it.

Karen, my cousin loves Nora Roberts. I think if the story is compelling and pulls me in, I notice head hopping less. I used to read Janet Daley, and now I recall she went from POV to POV within sentences.

Doesn't Nora Roberts write romance? I wonder if it's more prevalent in romance as well?

The book I quoted above is not so compelling in its execution that I can continue reading. But, I loved Janet Daley's books when I was younger!

Karen Junker
07-16-2011, 07:25 AM
Most of the writers I know who write romance are aware of Nora's tendency to head-hop, so they try not to do it. I've taken several classes from romance authors who have advised against it. I believe it is generally accepted in the romance writing community that Nora can get away with it and that when we have written dozens of bestsellers, only then should we try to get away with it.

To answer Thoth- Nora writes in the POV of several characters. Definitely not omni.

kaitie
07-16-2011, 09:54 AM
I read a recent Wilber Smith book that head hopped. I suppose one could argue that it was written in omniscient, but it didn't read that way to me. It seemed very solidly close third for the vast majority of the book, but then it would randomly switch to another character. It struck me as really unnecessary, but the man has written for so long I think he can get away with just about anything.

I've read others though where it doesn't bother me at all, so it just depends on how well done it is, I think.

Linda Adams
07-16-2011, 02:43 PM
But who is the narrator in Nora Roberts books?

She writes in omniscient.

Susan Littlefield
07-16-2011, 08:18 PM
I think if we have to figure out whether an author is writing in third or omniscient, then they the author is not doing their job very well. Stephen King writes a lot of omniscient, but it's clear what he's doing. He's starts that all knowing bigger scene. It always seems clear to me.

thothguard51
07-16-2011, 08:27 PM
From what I understand, and the way I read, the omniscient narrator does not have to always be distant. This narrator can zoom in close and still head hop.

I always wonder if omniscient is truly understood by most writers, especially when another author does it so well?

Susan Littlefield
07-16-2011, 08:34 PM
Nick,

I will admit that most times I know when I'm reading omniscient. The big teller for me is how it generally starts out with an all-knowing-all-seeing scene. However, I don't always know when I'm reading it, and I cannot certainly blame it each time on poor writing.

Now that I've looked at it more, I think the book I referred to in my original post is poorly written omniscient. The reason it threw me off is because it immediately starts in one head, then head hops during an important phone call.

At this juncture, I would not try to write omniscient because I don't know enough about his point of view. I would like to study it more.

shelleyo
07-16-2011, 09:25 PM
I've read several of Stephen King's books, though none for the past several years, and was never aware of head-hopping. It could be that I was so caught up in the story that it didn't jar me, but normally when someone switches POV within a scene, I notice and it bothers me.

I've recently samples some erotic romance titles from various epublishers, to see what types of stories they accept, how much sex, etc. so I know where to market a novella of mine. I was surprised at how much head-hopping took place in a couple of those. I don't know if those were from epublishers that simply don't edit well, or if it's something that's acceptable in the genre. It seemed designed to give each character's thoughts and level of excitement during sex scenes, and reminded me of really poorly done fan fiction, where the writing is low on the list of priorities but getting feelings across is number one.

I wouldn't want to read a whole book like that. But, as I said, if King does that, I have never noticed it, which says a lot. I'm going to have to pull out some of my books and sample chapters to prove to myself he did it and I didn't even catch it. :)

I wouldn't try to write it, because I'm sure it would be poorly done. I critiqued a couple of stories a few months ago and pointed out all the POV problems, and had the writer tell me they were in omniscient. I must not have a grip on it.

Shelley

Linda Adams
07-16-2011, 10:00 PM
From what I understand, and the way I read, the omniscient narrator does not have to always be distant. This narrator can zoom in close and still head hop.

I always wonder if omniscient is truly understood by most writers, especially when another author does it so well?

I write in omniscient. One of the first things I noticed was that writers would point fingers at an omni book and accuse the author of breaking the rules by "head hopping." Well done omni never head hops. It's one narrator telling us what the characters think, not multiple viewpoints. That's a hard concept to understand -- I've even some published craft books that get it really, really wrong.

Most often, well-done omni is mistaken for a more traditional third person.

Karen Junker
07-16-2011, 11:15 PM
The Nora Roberts books I've read were not omniscient. They were written in the POV of multiple characters and did, in fact, head-hop. Going into the thoughts of multiple characters does not equal omniscient narrator. There must be a consistent narrative voice for the omniscient narrator, which Roberts did not use in those books of hers that I've read.

shelleyo
07-16-2011, 11:19 PM
The Nora Roberts books I've read were not omniscient. They were written in the POV of multiple characters and did, in fact, head-hop. Going into the thoughts of multiple characters does not equal omniscient narrator. There must be a consistent narrative voice for the omniscient narrator, which Roberts did not use in those books of hers that I've read.

I've never read her. Is it head-hopping that's just done so well it's not a problem, or do you think it's that readers of that genre don't care as long as they get the romance storyline? Maybe that genre enjoys seeing what everyone's thinking all the time, so it's acceptable? The two or three romances I've read were some years ago, Zebra historicals because that's what my mother inhaled. I don't recall head-hopping in those, but it's been a while.

Shelley

Linda Adams
07-16-2011, 11:26 PM
The Nora Roberts books I've read were not omniscient. They were written in the POV of multiple characters and did, in fact, head-hop. Going into the thoughts of multiple characters does not equal omniscient narrator. There must be a consistent narrative voice for the omniscient narrator, which Roberts did not use in those books of hers that I've read.

She is definitely omni as J.D. Robb (http://www.redroom.com/blog/terry-odell/and-even-more-pov). Granted, I don't think she did a good job with the omni narrator -- the narrator had a very minimal presence in the books I read (heavy dialogue), which made me wonder why she'd bothered with it.

Susan Littlefield
07-17-2011, 12:03 AM
I've read several of Stephen King's books, though none for the past several years, and was never aware of head-hopping. It could be that I was so caught up in the story that it didn't jar me, but normally when someone switches POV within a scene, I notice and it bothers me.

I've recently samples some erotic romance titles from various epublishers, to see what types of stories they accept, how much sex, etc. so I know where to market a novella of mine. I was surprised at how much head-hopping took place in a couple of those. I don't know if those were from epublishers that simply don't edit well, or if it's something that's acceptable in the genre. It seemed designed to give each character's thoughts and level of excitement during sex scenes, and reminded me of really poorly done fan fiction, where the writing is low on the list of priorities but getting feelings across is number one.

I wouldn't want to read a whole book like that. But, as I said, if King does that, I have never noticed it, which says a lot. I'm going to have to pull out some of my books and sample chapters to prove to myself he did it and I didn't even catch it. :)

I wouldn't try to write it, because I'm sure it would be poorly done. I critiqued a couple of stories a few months ago and pointed out all the POV problems, and had the writer tell me they were in omniscient. I must not have a grip on it.

Shelley

Shelley,

I mean his books are omniscient. He goes from point of view to point of view easily, but I don't think it is head hopping the sense I am talking about- head hopping that appears to lack purpose.

shelleyo
07-17-2011, 12:11 AM
Shelley,

I mean his books are omniscient. He goes from point of view to point of view easily, but I don't think it is head hopping the sense I am talking about- head hopping that appears to lack purpose.

I see. I always thought the way he does it as just having limited third person POV in different sections with different characters. I've never thought of that as omniscient, so I thought you were talking about something else (changing POV from one paragraph to the next, for instance.)

I lack a great understanding of omniscient POV, and have no trouble admitting it. :)

Shelley

Susan Littlefield
07-17-2011, 01:27 AM
Shelley, I'm scared to death of trying to write in omni. :D

juniper
07-17-2011, 01:36 AM
She is definitely omni as J.D. Robb (http://www.redroom.com/blog/terry-odell/and-even-more-pov). Granted, I don't think she did a good job with the omni narrator -- the narrator had a very minimal presence in the books I read (heavy dialogue), which made me wonder why she'd bothered with it.

If the narrator has such a minimal presence, what makes you think it's omni and not head hopping in 3rd? I thought an omniscient narrator has a sort of overall presence that is interspersed through the novel, can even influence the reader in certain ways.

Although I realize there's also the detached omni POV, which isn't suggestive and is more just-the-facts-ma'am. But is still apparent through the novel.

Yikes, omni is the trickiest POV, with so many different understandings of it. No set definition.

Selah March
07-17-2011, 01:42 AM
I think Michel Faber's The Crimson Petal and the White is a fairly good example of omniscient. The narrator is a clear presence throughout, and often speaks directly to the reader, though never shows up as a character on the page.

Linda Adams
07-17-2011, 02:10 AM
If the narrator has such a minimal presence, what makes you think it's omni and not head hopping in 3rd? I thought an omniscient narrator has a sort of overall presence that is interspersed through the novel, can even influence the reader in certain ways.

Although I realize there's also the detached omni POV, which isn't suggestive and is more just-the-facts-ma'am. But is still apparent through the novel.

Yikes, omni is the trickiest POV, with so many different understandings of it. No set definition.

The easiest way to tell if a book is in omni is if the narrator tells us are things that the character can't possibly know. The link had some examples from one of the books.

juniper
07-17-2011, 05:12 AM
Looking through that link, I've seen those examples before somewhere. Quite short so perhaps not valid for me to use as comparison, but they seem to be in the "detached narrator" camp. Giving info to the reader without passing judgement on what's seen.

As for these snippets:
"If only she'd known what waited behind the door, she'd never have opened it."
"A melody she didn't recognize as Mozart came from the room."
"Outside, unbeknownst to him, the enemy was gathering its forces for an attack."
I've seen similar things in writings that are supposed to be 3rd pov (I know because I've asked the writer) - and they're just slips. POV mistakes, that the writer recognized as errors when questioned.

Lil
07-17-2011, 05:46 AM
What is taboo is confusing the reader. If you can switch point of view without creating confusion, go right ahead. I can't count the number of times I have read people criticizing a book I read for head hopping that I never noticed. Sometimes I go back and do some re-reading and still can't see what the problem was.

Switching point of view is not head hopping, and can be done without creating any confusion for the reader, Nora Roberts being a case in point. Clarity is the goal.

juniper
07-17-2011, 06:04 AM
Sometimes these POV threads are like some MFA classes. Fun to contemplate, interesting to use as writing exercises, but maybe not that important in the long run? I asked here many several months ago whether the average reader notices POV and the thread got a good run with many different opinions. I should have totaled up the replies and announced the %.

Karen Junker
07-17-2011, 06:05 AM
I'd disagree. Switching POV *is* head-hopping, if it's done in the same paragraph (as Nora Roberts frequently does, especially in love scenes). The fact that you can follow whose POV you're supposed to be in is the redeeming quality.

Sarah Madara
07-17-2011, 06:06 AM
What is taboo is confusing the reader. If you can switch point of view without creating confusion, go right ahead.

Exactly!! We get so caught up in the "rules" of POV, but they are all just guidelines to help us follow the real rule: Don't confuse the reader.

Karen Junker
07-17-2011, 06:12 AM
I'd say whether it's a rule or a guideline, the advice not to switch POV in mid-paragraph or even without some kind of scene break is good advice.

I've been an editor for a small romance epub and read hundreds of manuscripts. Beginning writers do the head-hopping thing quite often--and not well. So often, in fact, that the publisher had an unwritten policy to reject (or ask for major revisions of) manuscripts that did it.

juniper
07-17-2011, 06:20 AM
Switching point of view is not head hopping, and can be done without creating any confusion for the reader, Nora Roberts being a case in point. Clarity is the goal.

Ah, but see, some people are saying that Nora Roberts *doesn't* head hop, that she's writing in omni POV instead.

So no agreements in a POV thread, once again. No surprise ... writing is an art, not a science.

Karen Junker
07-17-2011, 06:24 AM
No, *some* people are saying that *some* of Nora Roberts books are omni. Not the ones I've read. I've read mostly her contemporary romances, not her books written as JD Robb (which may be omni, I just don't know).

No kidding, I really do know some things and I know head-hopping when I see it. It is no secret in the industry that Roberts does it.

It's no surprise to me that readers can't tell the difference. Many writers can't either.

Sarah Madara
07-17-2011, 06:39 AM
It's no surprise to me that readers can't tell the difference. Many writers can't either.

Maybe I'm misunderstanding your post, but if readers can't tell the difference, does it matter? I've never read Nora Roberts (shame on me, I know) so I'm not clear whether readers find it bothersome and confusing, or it's simply an unconventional approach to POV that she makes work.

I agree that the advice against head-hopping is sound. Very few writers have enough mastery of POV to break the "rules" and do it well.

Karen Junker
07-17-2011, 06:47 AM
What I'm saying is that some folks can't tell the difference between omni and 3rd with POV switches.

The switching of POV without a signal of some kind or without allowing the reader to be introduced to the character and feel some empathy with the character is when there's a problem. The reader may feel slightly less empathetic with the character or may feel jolted a bit when they realize they're suddenly in someone else's thoughts/feelings.

My bringing up Nora was in response to the OP -- because it generally works when she switches POV, even in mid-paragraph. It's all in the execution. She has a way of giving subtle hints when there's a POV switch, so it's not a jolt into some completely different person's head.

ETA: Just for fun, I grabbed Sea Swept, one of Nora's romances, and flipped it open to a random page. She indicates a POV switch by using dialogue. So, for example, we're in S's POV and then C says something and now we're in his POV. In half a page, with no scene or page breaks. That's what's known as head-hopping. It's still head-hopping, even when it works.

Sarah Madara
07-17-2011, 06:55 AM
What I'm saying is that some folks can't tell the difference between omni and 3rd with POV switches.
Ah, got it.


The switching of POV without a signal of some kind or without allowing the reader to be introduced to the character and feel some empathy with the character is when there's a problem. The reader may feel slightly less empathetic with the character or may feel jolted a bit when they realize they're suddenly in someone else's thoughts/feelings.
Or, as I did a few times in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, the reader may have to re-read the previous few paragraphs to figure out what just happened, because the reader wasn't paying enough attention to make note of the POV switch when it occurred and is now thoroughly confused.

Susan Littlefield
07-17-2011, 06:58 AM
No kidding, I really do know some things and I know head-hopping when I see it. It is no secret in the industry that Roberts does it.

It's no surprise to me that readers can't tell the difference. Many writers can't either.

And, to further elaborate, there is a difference between head hopping and omniscient. To me, head hopping feels disconnected, confusing, and nothing to substantiate such a switch. Omniscient flows and is clear that the story is narrated by an outside source, that there is more to the story than what any of the characters know.

juniper
07-17-2011, 07:00 AM
Here's a link to the long thread about readers (not writers) recognizing POV. I'm going to read through it again myself.

http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=198209

Susan Littlefield
07-17-2011, 07:05 AM
Maybe I'm misunderstanding your post, but if readers can't tell the difference, does it matter? .

As a writer it matters, at least to me. I want to master this POV so that I may write it without wondering if I am writing it correctly.

Karen Junker
07-17-2011, 07:08 AM
Just wanted to add: some people think head-hopping only happens when there has not been a sufficient signal to the reader that we are now in someone else's thoughts/feelings. So we may be dealing with a lack of clear definition for the term 'head-hopping'.

Also, wanted to add that I rode in an elevator with Nora Roberts once, for 9 whole floors. :)

juniper
07-17-2011, 07:13 AM
Also, wanted to add that I rode in an elevator with Nora Roberts once, for 9 whole floors. :)

Did you ask her about head hopping? ;) No really, did you talk to her at all beyond a polite hello?

Sarah Madara
07-17-2011, 07:21 AM
Just wanted to add: some people think head-hopping only happens when there has not been a sufficient signal to the reader that we are now in someone else's thoughts/feelings. So we may be dealing with a lack of clear definition for the term 'head-hopping'.
I thought "head-hopping" was a pejorative term for inappropriate or confusing changes between POV characters within a scene. Otherwise, it's just switching POV. Failing to identify the character early in a new scene isn't head-hopping so much as a generic POV fail, IMO.

What's your definition?

Susan Littlefield
07-17-2011, 07:22 AM
Did you ask her about head hopping? ;) No really, did you talk to her at all beyond a polite hello?

Yes, inquiring minds want to know!

If I was in an elevator with Dean Koontz or Stephen King, I don't know if I could ask about their writing styles or tricks of the trade.

Karen Junker
07-17-2011, 07:35 AM
I didn't even say hello to her. She had the air of someone with much on her mind.

Plus, I was dumbstruck.

Susan Littlefield
07-17-2011, 07:59 AM
Karen, that's the way it goes. :D

Elijah Sydney
07-17-2011, 09:09 AM
Or, as I did a few times in The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, the reader may have to re-read the previous few paragraphs to figure out what just happened, because the reader wasn't paying enough attention to make note of the POV switch when it occurred and is now thoroughly confused.As writers we know what we stumbled on, but I wonder if readers who know nothing about POV would simply assume it happened because of their own lack of concentration.

I’m reading a YA book, the Alchemyst by Michael Scott, and having the same problem. It’s omni (I think), but in my opinion that doesn’t excuse sloppy POV changes. In fact, I’m not convinced that just because something is presented as omni it has an instant licence to head hop.

As for something with head hopping that works – Wilbur Smith. Though personally I wouldn’t call what he does head hopping. I’d call it ‘smooth POV transitioning mid scene.’

Linda Adams
07-17-2011, 03:47 PM
And, to further elaborate, there is a difference between head hopping and omniscient. To me, head hopping feels disconnected, confusing, and nothing to substantiate such a switch. Omniscient flows and is clear that the story is narrated by an outside source, that there is more to the story than what any of the characters know.

This is one of the things I really looked at when I first start writing in omniscient. Obviously there was a difference between what was getting published and what was getting rejected. I compared it to what I saw on SYW where people did head hop. Usually what happened was someone said, "I want to write in omni so I can show what everyone is thinking" and then wrote in third and head hopped.

What I noticed was that when someone head hopped, they showed the story from the character's perspective, then moved to another character and showed the story from character's perspective. But in omni, when it moves from character to character, it's filtered through the narrator. It doesn't show the world through the character's perspective -- it shows what the omni narrator wants to tell us. It's subtle -- I found with the better authors I really had to read slowly and carefully for it to learn it.

One of the key differences though was that an omni writer doesn't move from character to character that much, and it's more deliberate. Someone in SYW head hopping might do it every single new paragraph, which goes to that uncontrolled feeling. They want to show every single thing, whereas the omni writer is choosing things to show.

But even with an outside narrator controlling the story, there also needs to be transitions when it moves from person to person. If the writer just moves to a new character in the same paragraph, it can be really jarring. Transitions I've seen that work really well include using dialogue, pulling the narrator back, or word choice.

Usually when beginners goof up omni is because they think it allows them to head hop. They're approaching it as a multiple viewpoint, when it's a single viewpoint. The single all-knowing narrator is one of the most difficult things to understand because they keep trying it fit with what they know about third, and it doesn't work the same way. How do you match a viewpoint where your narrator sees and knows everything and you pick what you need versus a viewpoint where you're limited by what the viewpoint character sees?

Some omni links: http://www.delicious.com/Garridon/omniscient

DanielAnuchan
07-17-2011, 04:11 PM
Thanks for the info. I never realized there was a difference.

Alitriona
07-17-2011, 07:14 PM
Since an Irish writing buddy of mine also did it more than most Americans I know, I wondered idly if it was one of those geographic signatures that happen in the English language. England uses u's where America does not, Canada uses different commas, Ireland head-pops.... Thoughts?

I haven't read the rest of the thread yet, sorry if someone has answered.

There is very little creative writing taught at school in Ireland, but I don't think head hopping is an Irish thing. So no, as a rule Ireland head-hops is not a geographical signature.

** I've read the rest. As a reader, I don't mind if a book is Omni or third with several POVs as long as I'm not confused about the POV I'm reading. As a writer, I'm not ready to tackle Omni for most of the reasons pointed out in this thread. It's subtle and hard to maintain throughout a novel without slipping into head hopping third and becoming a big ole mess of the two.

Susan Littlefield
07-17-2011, 11:14 PM
Linda,

Such a well thought out perfect response, and so true.

Since the book I referenced is a non-fiction crime, I pulled out a book of true crime stories by Anne Rule. As I started reading, I saw that she writes omniscient. She gives information on the different people in the crime situation, but she does it in such a way that it is clearly filtered. She talks about facts that none of the others people in the story could have known about.

Susan Littlefield
07-17-2011, 11:17 PM
** I've read the rest. As a reader, I don't mind if a book is Omni or third with several POVs as long as I'm not confused about the POV I'm reading. As a writer, I'm not ready to tackle Omni for most of the reasons pointed out in this thread. It's subtle and hard to maintain throughout a novel without slipping into head hopping third and becoming a big ole mess of the two.

Carol,

I feel the same about writing omniscient. I am afraid I would goof it up really good. :D

juniper
07-18-2011, 12:49 AM
Linda,

Such a well thought out perfect response, and so true.

Since the book I referenced is a non-fiction crime, I pulled out a book of true crime stories by Anne Rule. As I started reading, I saw that she writes omniscient. She gives information on the different people in the crime situation, but she does it in such a way that it is clearly filtered. She talks about facts that none of the others people in the story could have known about.

True crime stories would *have to be* in omniscient, wouldn't they? Since the narrator is providing facts provided from reporters, police, witnesses, etc. and not from a character's pov.

I wonder more in terms of true fiction, totally made up.

That long thread I wrote about readers and pov - I started it because I'd just finished a novel, totally close 3rd pov EXCEPT for two paragraphs, one which is inside a minor character's head, and another inside a different minor character's head.

To me, those 2 paragraphs were POV slips - jarring and intrusive. I'm deep inside MC's mind and suddenly then I'm in her companion's mind, musing about the MC. "He knows she makes unusual statements and does not mind, but this one, he thinks, is more unusual than most."

2 paragraphs out of a long novel do not make for omni, to me, when the rest is clearly inside one character's mind. But someone in that thread argued that it must be omni, since it was Big 6 published and a NYT bestseller. (I think I'm remembering that correctly)

Susan Littlefield
07-18-2011, 01:00 AM
True crime stories would *have to be* in omniscient, wouldn't they? Since the narrator is providing facts provided from reporters, police, witnesses, etc. and not from a character's pov.

I wonder more in terms of true fiction, totally made up.


Yes, I agree true crime stories would have to be omniscient. Which is why I was so confused and put off by what, I now believe, was supposed to be omniscient in Mistaken Identities. It was very poorly done, and not at all like other omniscient I have read.

I'm sorry, I don't know what you mean by true fiction. Can you please elaborate?

juniper
07-18-2011, 01:30 AM
I'm sorry, I don't know what you mean by true fiction. Can you please elaborate?

Oh, that is an oxymoron, isn't it? "True" fiction? :ROFL:

What I meant to say is fiction that is totally made up, not based on a real-life event, such as creative non-fiction (memoir) or true crime genres are.

Stories that spring from your mind, not your journal or the headlines. Am I explaining ok?

Susan Littlefield
07-18-2011, 01:44 AM
I now understand where you are coming from. Except, I wonder if fiction can ever be totally made up because we get our ideas from somewhere.

juniper
07-21-2011, 10:55 PM
Well, I'm reading a novel that sparked a series that has been critically acclaimed and appears to be marvelously successful. It's the first in the "Thursday Next" series, now up to 6 books.

It's written in 1st POV. EXCEPT when it's occasionally written in omniscient, or 3 POV head hop, I don't know anymore.

Here's an example: Thursday (in a flashback) went to a museum as a child. It's all "I, I, I" from Thursday's POV and then BAM!

"... continued the young man, beginning to get slightly annoyed ...

... The guide stared at him for a moment ... and wondered why visitors couldn't behave just that little bit more like sheep. Sadly, his point was a valid one; she herself had pondered the diluted ending, wishing, like millions of others, that circumstances had allowed Jane and Rochester to marry after all."

And there are some other places like this sprinkled in, although this one really stood out to me as actually being in a different character's mind, and not something that main character Thursday could have known or seen. Remember, the rest of this is in 1st POV. The young man's "beginning to get" could possibly be seen by Thursday, but not the part about the guide wondering, pondering, and wishing.

So, I dunno. This seems to be one of those cases of "Don't EVER DO THAT but if you do, the rest of the work had better be good enough to let that bit go." Or am I seeing this incorrectly?

Susan Littlefield
07-22-2011, 06:29 AM
Juniper,

I've not read the books you are talking about, but from what you describe...yes, that would drive me crazy.