I didn’t know. How could I? I was just an innocent reader floating along on the river of the story the author chose to weave. I was happily ignorant.
But not now.
Now I’m a writer. I’m learning all those “don’ts” that come with writing a story. Don’t blather. Don’t name characters with no purpose. Don’t include scenes that don’t reveal new information to the reader. And … for goodness sake’s DON”T move from one character’s head to another. This is called “head hopping” and it’s not allowed.
Or is it?
This is a question authors ask themselves all the time. The fact is, readers don’t know this whole head hopping/point of view discussion exists. Really, they aren’t aware the hero can’t be thinking how beautiful the heroine is when the author is writing a scene from the heroine’s point of view. Authors know this. Editors know this. But the reader? Not so much.
Point of View (POV) purists will staunchly stand in front of the line drawn in the sand and say “No. No. No. One scene. One character’s head.” They believe there is no other way to write. Any other way is wrong. And with this comes the line break. If an author wants to offer the reader a view of another character’s thoughts within the same scene then they MUST have a blank line to alert the reader there’s been a change before continuing the scene.
And to this I say pffffft…
As a reader I find the blank line without a change in time or place really annoying. It interrupts the flow of my reading. I want it to just flow. Which means … I expect the author to seamlessly roll me from one character’s head to another. There are many techniques to do this which I’m not going to go into now, but I really admire an author who can do this without breaking the flow of the scene or pulling me from the story.
(Of course when I realize they did it, I stop and re-read to see how they managed it. 🙂 )
Some editors and/or publishers won’t let you get away with it. Why? I assume my readers are smart and can totally figure out who’s thinking what. I don’t think I need a big arrow pointing to the moment to say “Wait … pay attention … I don’t want to lose you here … Someone else is going to jump in here with internal dialogue.” Seriously. Cut me some slack.
I wish more publishers would allow their authors the creativity of changing POVs. And I’m not talking four times (because that totally drives me insane as well). But one seamless switch within the body of the scene without a line break just makes for good reading in my opinion.
I gladly welcome yours.