Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Head Hopping as Lazy

This post continues a discussion we began at the NAWG blog regarding 1st person and limited 3rd person narratives where the character narrating changes through out the book.  Feel free to check out that post or just start here!

Yes, head hopping, like any story telling device can be lazy.  Answer unlocked we can all go home now.  

But lazy how and to whom and what metrics can we use to verify? 

In my novel Follow Me: Tattered Veils, I have 3 chapters that are told from minor character’s perspectives.  Each of those chapters are HUGE moments in the book.  They may be my 3 favorite chapters.  

Still, in a 29 chapter book where all the other chapters are told from my protagonist’s or my antagonist’s view points, I had to ask myself “Are these 3 chapters lazy?  Are their other ways I could give the readers this information?” Or conversely “Should I add more split perspectives from minor characters to make these three chapters blend more?”

Since these chapters remain in the final book, it’s clear what my conclusions were, but I believe there’s a valid argument one could make for why these chapters were lazy.

  1. I could have told all 3 of these chapters from either Roxi or Gerry’s perspective.  
  • “Snares” wouldn’t have been as much of a gut punch, but it’s almost unchanged if I split the perspective between Roxi and Gerry.
  • “Waiting, Waiting, and More Waiting” COULD be more tense with a split perspective between Roxi and Gerry.  On one side we’d have Roxi idle chit chat and waiting in line and the other is Gerry watching, waiting for his moment to hit Claire’s Facebook feed and get the group to come his way.  I would have lost the opportunity to redeem Alice or to make her more than a “mean girl” but I may have gained more story continuity.
  • “After the Party” can be told from Roxi’s perspective, though it’s WHOLE POINT in the book would be lost.  The reason that chapter exists is because I want readers to see more of Conor and they get that from his take on the night, not from the events themselves—but people could argue that readers don’t need to know Conor.
  1. OR I could have added more head hopping to make these chapters “fit” better. 
  • The most obvious place to add split perspectives is in faeryworld.  One chapter Roxi’s journey and the next chapter check in on where another character is and how they’re handling their night.—I didn’t do this because I like the flow of Roxi’s journey for place to place without the breaks these chapters would create.  AND I wanted readers to be surprised with Roxi at what she encountered, not spoiled through someone else’s perspective. 
  • I could have created mini-adventures for each character and created more “slice of life” in the middle sections—I was so busy pairing things down in this section, adding anything non-essential seemed terrible.

I stand by my literary decisions.  I love these chapters, but I 100% see where people might argue they are lazy.  

So yeah, even head hopping done well might be lazy.  There might be more interesting, more complex solutions to a story issue and one should explore them, but that’s not the same as choosing it.  I compare head hopping to a showing vs telling issue.  I think there are cases where telling just moves the story on to the good stuff faster and head hopping may do the same.  You don’t know any of that until you do both and see which works best for your story.  

MY BOOK IS AVAILABLE AT AMAZON!!!  Please go look at "Follow Me: Tattered Veils" and see if it might be a story that interests you.

Looking for more posts about the writing and publishing process?  Check out more posts on my novel publication process: Going Through Copy Edits, 1st Daft vs 2nd Draft, Goal Planning: Getting Through the First Draft, My Character Looks Nothing Like My MC, Cover Art: Truth in Advertising, and Post Book Launch: Reflections.  

Want to know more about my novel?  Check out my childhood stories recapping themes in my life I hope prepared me to write this book: Remember the Magic of Santa?, Closet Monsters: Gone too Far?, and Garden Gnomes and other Evils.

OR check out my series where I find similarities between my novel and other popular media.  Hopefully it gives you a better idea whether there are elements in my book you may enjoy. Lost Girl Comparison, American Gods Comparison, and The O.A. Comparison.

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