MAGIC MAN

   Professor Pat patters up to the podium. Whack, goes the gavel. “Class, come to order. I have been asked—for the thousandth time—how to switch point of view within a scene.  I thought I’d taught you that there is no Right way to Write.”

   Perky Pam waves her hand.  “But we were taught that headhopping is punishable by firing squad. It dilutes the emotional tension!”

   “Shoot that woman.” Professor Pat gestures to the firing squad. “Perky isn’t allowed here—but blatant self-promotion is,” she adds pertly. 

   Okay, so I was preparing an answer to a FAQ when it occurred to me that I could kill two birds with one stone, or two writers with one quill, or whatever metaphor you want to mangle today.  I have had people (including copyeditors who ought to know better) complain about my nasty habit of changing POVs without warning in the middle of a scene.  Since I examine all my work inside out and upside down, I have concluded I generally start doing this right about the time the couple start working together, so I’m quite happy to leave my style just as it is.  Pinkmanheart

   As the song says, there are a million ways to leave your point of view… The below excerpt at about the first quarter point of MAGIC MAN (Signet Eclipse—ON SALE 6/30 <G>) shows just one of many:

“If we could harness all the energy in this room,” Mr. Dougal murmured, leaning his elbow on the top of the secretary and speaking so only Mora could hear, “we could power Ewen’s flying machine.”

She fully understood his reference to energy.  The room bristled with primal vibrations that seemed to be affecting her as well.  She was amazed that their thoughts took parallel paths. “Flying machine?” she asked faintly, his closeness reducing the room to the two of them.

“I’ll show you later. Did they pry the rest of the message from you?”

She nodded.  “I’m sorry.  If it applies to their family, and there’s some real danger, I thought I must.”

“Let’s make the best of it, then,” he said without reproof.

Before she could question him further, he spoke loudly to break the chatter filling the salon.  “If we divide up for a search, I recommend the ladies stay in pairs.  If Felicity and Leila are confined to this floor, then Ninian should help Christina search the tower, if only to keep Drogo from flinging the duchess out of it.  Ewen, you take the public rooms downstairs.  Dunstan, the servants’ quarters and greenhouse.”

“That leaves Mora without a partner,” Christina pointed out.

“She and I will search the walls for hiding places,” he said with satisfaction.

Dunstan and Ewen hooted and whistled knowingly.  The ladies exchanged laughing looks.  Aidan disregarded the provocation.  He’d accomplished what he wanted.  Miss Abbott was looking at him with admiration and a hint of surprise.

————————————————————-

   How do you like the way Mr. Dougal took command of that scene right out of our heroine’s hands? Head?

   Headhopping may dilute emotional intensity, but who in heck wants to be deep down in someone’s head or heart all the time?  It’s much more fun to see how they react against each other sometimes.

   See, be very wary what you ask me.  I just might tell you.

60 thoughts on “MAGIC MAN”

  1. Oh, Pat, you are going to kill me!!! How can I keep from losing face with my editorial clients when I bang them over the head about POV, and then you waltz in with a lovely example of a POV switch in a scene that works??? (g)
    POV is one of the biggest issues I deal with in my editorial business. Many writers really don’t understand it, especially those who are new to writing. What I tell my clients is that first they must learn to do it the “right” way, and then when they have mastered POV they can break the rules.
    It’s like teaching a kid to ride a horse. They learn the basics first: walk, trot, canter, and the most important–whoa. Only after they have learned the basics are they ready to start jumping the horse. If you take a kid who’s never learned the basics and toss her on a horse, she’ll come to grief when she tries to take the horse over a jump.
    So I preach the gospel of POV to my clients, and once they’ve got it down pat I promise not to shake my Red Pen of Doom at them. You obviously know what you are doing, because your scene worked well and it was non-jarring to me.
    I admit it–I’m a POV purist, and what’s more, I am anal. Head hopping drives me crazy. However, I do not consider your scene head hopping. In fact, it’s a great example of POV switching done in a subtle and effective manner.
    I would love to hear what others have to say about POV. (I sometimes feel like I’m fighting a losing battle!) (g)
    Sherrie Holmes, of the old school
    http://www.holmesedit.com

    Reply
  2. Oh, Pat, you are going to kill me!!! How can I keep from losing face with my editorial clients when I bang them over the head about POV, and then you waltz in with a lovely example of a POV switch in a scene that works??? (g)
    POV is one of the biggest issues I deal with in my editorial business. Many writers really don’t understand it, especially those who are new to writing. What I tell my clients is that first they must learn to do it the “right” way, and then when they have mastered POV they can break the rules.
    It’s like teaching a kid to ride a horse. They learn the basics first: walk, trot, canter, and the most important–whoa. Only after they have learned the basics are they ready to start jumping the horse. If you take a kid who’s never learned the basics and toss her on a horse, she’ll come to grief when she tries to take the horse over a jump.
    So I preach the gospel of POV to my clients, and once they’ve got it down pat I promise not to shake my Red Pen of Doom at them. You obviously know what you are doing, because your scene worked well and it was non-jarring to me.
    I admit it–I’m a POV purist, and what’s more, I am anal. Head hopping drives me crazy. However, I do not consider your scene head hopping. In fact, it’s a great example of POV switching done in a subtle and effective manner.
    I would love to hear what others have to say about POV. (I sometimes feel like I’m fighting a losing battle!) (g)
    Sherrie Holmes, of the old school
    http://www.holmesedit.com

    Reply
  3. Oh, Pat, you are going to kill me!!! How can I keep from losing face with my editorial clients when I bang them over the head about POV, and then you waltz in with a lovely example of a POV switch in a scene that works??? (g)
    POV is one of the biggest issues I deal with in my editorial business. Many writers really don’t understand it, especially those who are new to writing. What I tell my clients is that first they must learn to do it the “right” way, and then when they have mastered POV they can break the rules.
    It’s like teaching a kid to ride a horse. They learn the basics first: walk, trot, canter, and the most important–whoa. Only after they have learned the basics are they ready to start jumping the horse. If you take a kid who’s never learned the basics and toss her on a horse, she’ll come to grief when she tries to take the horse over a jump.
    So I preach the gospel of POV to my clients, and once they’ve got it down pat I promise not to shake my Red Pen of Doom at them. You obviously know what you are doing, because your scene worked well and it was non-jarring to me.
    I admit it–I’m a POV purist, and what’s more, I am anal. Head hopping drives me crazy. However, I do not consider your scene head hopping. In fact, it’s a great example of POV switching done in a subtle and effective manner.
    I would love to hear what others have to say about POV. (I sometimes feel like I’m fighting a losing battle!) (g)
    Sherrie Holmes, of the old school
    http://www.holmesedit.com

    Reply
  4. “Professor Pat, Professor Pat it was not me. It was not me! I know I asked about POV once, but I got it. I promise. Ask Sherrie. She will tell you. She has seen my new work. Please, please don’t put me to firing squad.”
    Pat, your post had me rolling. How did you know I was sitting on the deck of my treehouse contemplating the POV of my next chapter? Heroine or Hero…hmmm. Maybe I’ll try both this time. They say it’s more fun with two. Very smooth POV change, btw. Even after reading it twice, I had to go back an look for it.
    Nina, hoping there’s not a firing squad waiting at the bottom of the treehouse ladder.

    Reply
  5. “Professor Pat, Professor Pat it was not me. It was not me! I know I asked about POV once, but I got it. I promise. Ask Sherrie. She will tell you. She has seen my new work. Please, please don’t put me to firing squad.”
    Pat, your post had me rolling. How did you know I was sitting on the deck of my treehouse contemplating the POV of my next chapter? Heroine or Hero…hmmm. Maybe I’ll try both this time. They say it’s more fun with two. Very smooth POV change, btw. Even after reading it twice, I had to go back an look for it.
    Nina, hoping there’s not a firing squad waiting at the bottom of the treehouse ladder.

    Reply
  6. “Professor Pat, Professor Pat it was not me. It was not me! I know I asked about POV once, but I got it. I promise. Ask Sherrie. She will tell you. She has seen my new work. Please, please don’t put me to firing squad.”
    Pat, your post had me rolling. How did you know I was sitting on the deck of my treehouse contemplating the POV of my next chapter? Heroine or Hero…hmmm. Maybe I’ll try both this time. They say it’s more fun with two. Very smooth POV change, btw. Even after reading it twice, I had to go back an look for it.
    Nina, hoping there’s not a firing squad waiting at the bottom of the treehouse ladder.

    Reply
  7. Pat —
    Your post reminded me of the advice to me of a very sage editor, Tracy Farrell at HQN. Her word on every quandry like this was simple: “If you can make it work, then do it.”
    And you, Madame Professor, make it work. Thanks for an excellent lesson (though I miss the demonic muse this week).
    Susan/Miranda

    Reply
  8. Pat —
    Your post reminded me of the advice to me of a very sage editor, Tracy Farrell at HQN. Her word on every quandry like this was simple: “If you can make it work, then do it.”
    And you, Madame Professor, make it work. Thanks for an excellent lesson (though I miss the demonic muse this week).
    Susan/Miranda

    Reply
  9. Pat —
    Your post reminded me of the advice to me of a very sage editor, Tracy Farrell at HQN. Her word on every quandry like this was simple: “If you can make it work, then do it.”
    And you, Madame Professor, make it work. Thanks for an excellent lesson (though I miss the demonic muse this week).
    Susan/Miranda

    Reply
  10. I thought the selection is an great example of POV smoothly shifted. Well-written scenes like this one are carried by the characters’ dialog, in my opinion. The reader is swept along by the action described primarily by direct quotes and not jarred out of the story by unexpected, unexplainable POV potholes.
    (Probably why Pat is a Best Selling Author, right?)

    Reply
  11. I thought the selection is an great example of POV smoothly shifted. Well-written scenes like this one are carried by the characters’ dialog, in my opinion. The reader is swept along by the action described primarily by direct quotes and not jarred out of the story by unexpected, unexplainable POV potholes.
    (Probably why Pat is a Best Selling Author, right?)

    Reply
  12. I thought the selection is an great example of POV smoothly shifted. Well-written scenes like this one are carried by the characters’ dialog, in my opinion. The reader is swept along by the action described primarily by direct quotes and not jarred out of the story by unexpected, unexplainable POV potholes.
    (Probably why Pat is a Best Selling Author, right?)

    Reply
  13. I am always suspicious of rigid rules about how to do essentially creative things. They may provide a useful frame of reference, especially for those who are learning a craft, but knowing how and when to break a – let’s call it a norm, rather than a rule – and get away with it is often the mark of a skilled practitioner of a craft.
    As a reader of fiction, I am baffled by the statement that switching point-of-view ‘dilutes emotional tension’: I don’t see why it should not intensify emotional tension when properly handled. It is only when the reader cannot FOLLOW the moving focus, and is not sure whose head she is in at a given moment, that the matter becomes a problem, and if that happens, the writer is to blame. As long as the reader knows where she is, and which character is thinking or speaking, I fail to see any difficulty.

    Reply
  14. I am always suspicious of rigid rules about how to do essentially creative things. They may provide a useful frame of reference, especially for those who are learning a craft, but knowing how and when to break a – let’s call it a norm, rather than a rule – and get away with it is often the mark of a skilled practitioner of a craft.
    As a reader of fiction, I am baffled by the statement that switching point-of-view ‘dilutes emotional tension’: I don’t see why it should not intensify emotional tension when properly handled. It is only when the reader cannot FOLLOW the moving focus, and is not sure whose head she is in at a given moment, that the matter becomes a problem, and if that happens, the writer is to blame. As long as the reader knows where she is, and which character is thinking or speaking, I fail to see any difficulty.

    Reply
  15. I am always suspicious of rigid rules about how to do essentially creative things. They may provide a useful frame of reference, especially for those who are learning a craft, but knowing how and when to break a – let’s call it a norm, rather than a rule – and get away with it is often the mark of a skilled practitioner of a craft.
    As a reader of fiction, I am baffled by the statement that switching point-of-view ‘dilutes emotional tension’: I don’t see why it should not intensify emotional tension when properly handled. It is only when the reader cannot FOLLOW the moving focus, and is not sure whose head she is in at a given moment, that the matter becomes a problem, and if that happens, the writer is to blame. As long as the reader knows where she is, and which character is thinking or speaking, I fail to see any difficulty.

    Reply
  16. From Pat:
    LOL, sorry Sherrie, Nina! But telling me there are “rules” always gets my nasty up. (Susan/M, you didn’t like my pink giant? sniff. ) And bless you, Bob, but I think my editors believe it’s the title and covers that sell the books.
    AgT–headhopping will dilute the focus/tension/whatever, but who wants to be in deep POV all the time? The insides of people’s heads can be pretty danged boring after a while!

    Reply
  17. From Pat:
    LOL, sorry Sherrie, Nina! But telling me there are “rules” always gets my nasty up. (Susan/M, you didn’t like my pink giant? sniff. ) And bless you, Bob, but I think my editors believe it’s the title and covers that sell the books.
    AgT–headhopping will dilute the focus/tension/whatever, but who wants to be in deep POV all the time? The insides of people’s heads can be pretty danged boring after a while!

    Reply
  18. From Pat:
    LOL, sorry Sherrie, Nina! But telling me there are “rules” always gets my nasty up. (Susan/M, you didn’t like my pink giant? sniff. ) And bless you, Bob, but I think my editors believe it’s the title and covers that sell the books.
    AgT–headhopping will dilute the focus/tension/whatever, but who wants to be in deep POV all the time? The insides of people’s heads can be pretty danged boring after a while!

    Reply
  19. from Susan/Sarah…
    Pat, what a great post. I love the scene. The transition is subtle, and it flows, and it works. Like Tracy told Susan/Miranda, “if you can make it work” go for it, and you always make that work. You’re an intuitive writer, you know what works for you and your characters and stories, and you develop it beautifully from there.
    Copyeditors have rules, writers rarely do. Blanket directives on how to write just won’t work for everyone. Creativity does need guidelines, but strict rules tend to stifle the organic process. Writing is an expressive, additive sort of art form, where ideas, inspiration, effort, intuition, ability, and knowledge combine. Analytical rigidity isn’t always successful there, though a touch of it here and there will help the individual writer.
    What works, I think, is learning to rely on intuition and natural instinct, and finessing that with a few guidelines. Allowing intuition to make decisions of craft and technique is an essential element in producing not only good stories and characters, but good wordsmithing itself.
    So I think any “rules” are those we create for ourselves, based on what we learn here and there. If it works for your story, that’s great, that may be all you need. We can all discuss POV and other aspects of writing craft, but there’s no guarantee that this or that will work for others. And the principles change from story to story, too.
    Pat is a highly intuitive writer (and person!), and she’s a great example of allowing instinct to work on behalf of the writing.
    Whew, that was a lot before breakfast. 😀
    ~Susan

    Reply
  20. from Susan/Sarah…
    Pat, what a great post. I love the scene. The transition is subtle, and it flows, and it works. Like Tracy told Susan/Miranda, “if you can make it work” go for it, and you always make that work. You’re an intuitive writer, you know what works for you and your characters and stories, and you develop it beautifully from there.
    Copyeditors have rules, writers rarely do. Blanket directives on how to write just won’t work for everyone. Creativity does need guidelines, but strict rules tend to stifle the organic process. Writing is an expressive, additive sort of art form, where ideas, inspiration, effort, intuition, ability, and knowledge combine. Analytical rigidity isn’t always successful there, though a touch of it here and there will help the individual writer.
    What works, I think, is learning to rely on intuition and natural instinct, and finessing that with a few guidelines. Allowing intuition to make decisions of craft and technique is an essential element in producing not only good stories and characters, but good wordsmithing itself.
    So I think any “rules” are those we create for ourselves, based on what we learn here and there. If it works for your story, that’s great, that may be all you need. We can all discuss POV and other aspects of writing craft, but there’s no guarantee that this or that will work for others. And the principles change from story to story, too.
    Pat is a highly intuitive writer (and person!), and she’s a great example of allowing instinct to work on behalf of the writing.
    Whew, that was a lot before breakfast. 😀
    ~Susan

    Reply
  21. from Susan/Sarah…
    Pat, what a great post. I love the scene. The transition is subtle, and it flows, and it works. Like Tracy told Susan/Miranda, “if you can make it work” go for it, and you always make that work. You’re an intuitive writer, you know what works for you and your characters and stories, and you develop it beautifully from there.
    Copyeditors have rules, writers rarely do. Blanket directives on how to write just won’t work for everyone. Creativity does need guidelines, but strict rules tend to stifle the organic process. Writing is an expressive, additive sort of art form, where ideas, inspiration, effort, intuition, ability, and knowledge combine. Analytical rigidity isn’t always successful there, though a touch of it here and there will help the individual writer.
    What works, I think, is learning to rely on intuition and natural instinct, and finessing that with a few guidelines. Allowing intuition to make decisions of craft and technique is an essential element in producing not only good stories and characters, but good wordsmithing itself.
    So I think any “rules” are those we create for ourselves, based on what we learn here and there. If it works for your story, that’s great, that may be all you need. We can all discuss POV and other aspects of writing craft, but there’s no guarantee that this or that will work for others. And the principles change from story to story, too.
    Pat is a highly intuitive writer (and person!), and she’s a great example of allowing instinct to work on behalf of the writing.
    Whew, that was a lot before breakfast. 😀
    ~Susan

    Reply
  22. From Pat Rice:
    Wow, Susan/Sarah, a whole essay before breakfast! And a much better one than my muttering. I’m thinking “intuitive” means uneducated, undisciplined, and a total loose screw, but that works for me. (like Edith, so I’m in good company)
    Thank you for the kind words!

    Reply
  23. From Pat Rice:
    Wow, Susan/Sarah, a whole essay before breakfast! And a much better one than my muttering. I’m thinking “intuitive” means uneducated, undisciplined, and a total loose screw, but that works for me. (like Edith, so I’m in good company)
    Thank you for the kind words!

    Reply
  24. From Pat Rice:
    Wow, Susan/Sarah, a whole essay before breakfast! And a much better one than my muttering. I’m thinking “intuitive” means uneducated, undisciplined, and a total loose screw, but that works for me. (like Edith, so I’m in good company)
    Thank you for the kind words!

    Reply
  25. Pat said: “AgT–headhopping will dilute the focus/tension/whatever, but who wants to be in deep POV all the time? The insides of people’s heads can be pretty danged boring after a while!”
    * * *
    True! But I still don’t actually understand why changing the focus, moving to another character, should alter the level of TENSION. I really don’t. The tension may be a function of the situation in which two or more characters find themselces, rather than being intrinsic or internal to one character, so surely, switching from one character to another while the tension rises should not necessarily undermine the effect, but might even enhance it?
    Seeing a mutual misunderstanding, or an outside threat, from a single point of view might be considerably LESS intense than seeing it from the viewpoints of two or more characters in succession. I am going to look out for examples in my reading, now!

    Reply
  26. Pat said: “AgT–headhopping will dilute the focus/tension/whatever, but who wants to be in deep POV all the time? The insides of people’s heads can be pretty danged boring after a while!”
    * * *
    True! But I still don’t actually understand why changing the focus, moving to another character, should alter the level of TENSION. I really don’t. The tension may be a function of the situation in which two or more characters find themselces, rather than being intrinsic or internal to one character, so surely, switching from one character to another while the tension rises should not necessarily undermine the effect, but might even enhance it?
    Seeing a mutual misunderstanding, or an outside threat, from a single point of view might be considerably LESS intense than seeing it from the viewpoints of two or more characters in succession. I am going to look out for examples in my reading, now!

    Reply
  27. Pat said: “AgT–headhopping will dilute the focus/tension/whatever, but who wants to be in deep POV all the time? The insides of people’s heads can be pretty danged boring after a while!”
    * * *
    True! But I still don’t actually understand why changing the focus, moving to another character, should alter the level of TENSION. I really don’t. The tension may be a function of the situation in which two or more characters find themselces, rather than being intrinsic or internal to one character, so surely, switching from one character to another while the tension rises should not necessarily undermine the effect, but might even enhance it?
    Seeing a mutual misunderstanding, or an outside threat, from a single point of view might be considerably LESS intense than seeing it from the viewpoints of two or more characters in succession. I am going to look out for examples in my reading, now!

    Reply
  28. from Susan/Sarah …
    Hey, if intuitive is loose screws, that’s fine by me, and probably what I meant. I have a tendency to spout a little academic-speak now and then, since I got my initial writing training there — until I went over the wall, stopped footnoting, and started making stuff up. Yay Fiction!
    What feels just right to the intuitive part of you, and what sounds best to the ear, could be a good overall guide for writing fiction. After a while I have to follow the intuition and let fly, because I feel the constraints of structure.
    Chaos R Us. Works for me.
    As for headhopping vs. separated POV, whatever works for you, and the story, is probably best. I separate because I like the sense of immediacy it can create for one character, then the other, so the reader is right there, all the while.
    It’s individual preference, what suits story, what suits voice. I don’t think changing the focus dilutes tension, I think it’s confusion that dilutes tension. Headhopping can be confusing, or it can enhance what’s going on, depending on what the scene needs.
    Whether you like one or the other, maintaining a consistency of POV technique is what’s important — it keeps the integrity of the voice and story intact.
    ~Susan

    Reply
  29. from Susan/Sarah …
    Hey, if intuitive is loose screws, that’s fine by me, and probably what I meant. I have a tendency to spout a little academic-speak now and then, since I got my initial writing training there — until I went over the wall, stopped footnoting, and started making stuff up. Yay Fiction!
    What feels just right to the intuitive part of you, and what sounds best to the ear, could be a good overall guide for writing fiction. After a while I have to follow the intuition and let fly, because I feel the constraints of structure.
    Chaos R Us. Works for me.
    As for headhopping vs. separated POV, whatever works for you, and the story, is probably best. I separate because I like the sense of immediacy it can create for one character, then the other, so the reader is right there, all the while.
    It’s individual preference, what suits story, what suits voice. I don’t think changing the focus dilutes tension, I think it’s confusion that dilutes tension. Headhopping can be confusing, or it can enhance what’s going on, depending on what the scene needs.
    Whether you like one or the other, maintaining a consistency of POV technique is what’s important — it keeps the integrity of the voice and story intact.
    ~Susan

    Reply
  30. from Susan/Sarah …
    Hey, if intuitive is loose screws, that’s fine by me, and probably what I meant. I have a tendency to spout a little academic-speak now and then, since I got my initial writing training there — until I went over the wall, stopped footnoting, and started making stuff up. Yay Fiction!
    What feels just right to the intuitive part of you, and what sounds best to the ear, could be a good overall guide for writing fiction. After a while I have to follow the intuition and let fly, because I feel the constraints of structure.
    Chaos R Us. Works for me.
    As for headhopping vs. separated POV, whatever works for you, and the story, is probably best. I separate because I like the sense of immediacy it can create for one character, then the other, so the reader is right there, all the while.
    It’s individual preference, what suits story, what suits voice. I don’t think changing the focus dilutes tension, I think it’s confusion that dilutes tension. Headhopping can be confusing, or it can enhance what’s going on, depending on what the scene needs.
    Whether you like one or the other, maintaining a consistency of POV technique is what’s important — it keeps the integrity of the voice and story intact.
    ~Susan

    Reply
  31. Do you know what’s best about this particular WW’s thread? I am learning so much! I don’t think I could get a better, more real, writer’s education. And now I have a little POV ammo to shoot at Sherrie when she jumps up and down at me about my ms. (Are you listening my editor friend? ) Sherrie is great, btw!
    Do you know what the worst part about this thread is? I don’t enjoy books like I used to. Last night I was reading a non Word Wench book that shall remain nameless, and I had to put it down. The author jumped heads between two people in the middle of a flashback that belonged to someone else. I don’t think I would have noticed if I didn’t have an inkling of the rules/non-rules of POV.
    I don’t know. Should I be thankful or not? 🙂
    Nina, knowing I am better for WW’s
    .

    Reply
  32. Do you know what’s best about this particular WW’s thread? I am learning so much! I don’t think I could get a better, more real, writer’s education. And now I have a little POV ammo to shoot at Sherrie when she jumps up and down at me about my ms. (Are you listening my editor friend? ) Sherrie is great, btw!
    Do you know what the worst part about this thread is? I don’t enjoy books like I used to. Last night I was reading a non Word Wench book that shall remain nameless, and I had to put it down. The author jumped heads between two people in the middle of a flashback that belonged to someone else. I don’t think I would have noticed if I didn’t have an inkling of the rules/non-rules of POV.
    I don’t know. Should I be thankful or not? 🙂
    Nina, knowing I am better for WW’s
    .

    Reply
  33. Do you know what’s best about this particular WW’s thread? I am learning so much! I don’t think I could get a better, more real, writer’s education. And now I have a little POV ammo to shoot at Sherrie when she jumps up and down at me about my ms. (Are you listening my editor friend? ) Sherrie is great, btw!
    Do you know what the worst part about this thread is? I don’t enjoy books like I used to. Last night I was reading a non Word Wench book that shall remain nameless, and I had to put it down. The author jumped heads between two people in the middle of a flashback that belonged to someone else. I don’t think I would have noticed if I didn’t have an inkling of the rules/non-rules of POV.
    I don’t know. Should I be thankful or not? 🙂
    Nina, knowing I am better for WW’s
    .

    Reply
  34. Editor Holmes popping in again. I think the key here is the quote posted by Susan Miranda about editor Tracy Farrell: “If you can make it work, then do it.”
    The problem is, some writers *can’t* make it work. There’s a time when a POV switch works, and a time when it doesn’t.
    I recently read a piece where we were in the heroine’s POV, feeling her angst and fears, rooting for her, really getting emotionally connected with her, and then suddenly we are in her grandmother’s POV. I lost my connection to the heroine, and I lost my connection to the emotion of the scene. The transition in POV was abrupt and it came at the wrong time.
    There are writers who can manage this type of transition with style and grace (like Pat) and keep the reader connected to the drama and emotions of a scene. And there are writers who don’t understand POV and as a result their switches just don’t work.
    As Tracy Farrell said, “If you can make it work, then do it.”
    Sherrie
    http://www.holmesedit.com

    Reply
  35. Editor Holmes popping in again. I think the key here is the quote posted by Susan Miranda about editor Tracy Farrell: “If you can make it work, then do it.”
    The problem is, some writers *can’t* make it work. There’s a time when a POV switch works, and a time when it doesn’t.
    I recently read a piece where we were in the heroine’s POV, feeling her angst and fears, rooting for her, really getting emotionally connected with her, and then suddenly we are in her grandmother’s POV. I lost my connection to the heroine, and I lost my connection to the emotion of the scene. The transition in POV was abrupt and it came at the wrong time.
    There are writers who can manage this type of transition with style and grace (like Pat) and keep the reader connected to the drama and emotions of a scene. And there are writers who don’t understand POV and as a result their switches just don’t work.
    As Tracy Farrell said, “If you can make it work, then do it.”
    Sherrie
    http://www.holmesedit.com

    Reply
  36. Editor Holmes popping in again. I think the key here is the quote posted by Susan Miranda about editor Tracy Farrell: “If you can make it work, then do it.”
    The problem is, some writers *can’t* make it work. There’s a time when a POV switch works, and a time when it doesn’t.
    I recently read a piece where we were in the heroine’s POV, feeling her angst and fears, rooting for her, really getting emotionally connected with her, and then suddenly we are in her grandmother’s POV. I lost my connection to the heroine, and I lost my connection to the emotion of the scene. The transition in POV was abrupt and it came at the wrong time.
    There are writers who can manage this type of transition with style and grace (like Pat) and keep the reader connected to the drama and emotions of a scene. And there are writers who don’t understand POV and as a result their switches just don’t work.
    As Tracy Farrell said, “If you can make it work, then do it.”
    Sherrie
    http://www.holmesedit.com

    Reply
  37. I agree, Tracy’s phrase works for me, and apparently most of us WWs. And Editor Holmes has pointed out the problem with headhopping (AgT, do you see what she’s saying?). If you’re in deep POV–really into that character’s head,emotions,fears–you can’t just abruptly jerk out and dash off elsewhere. You might as well smack the reader in the jaw. It may create tension of a sort , but maybe not the kind the reader wants to experience.
    I think AgT is describing plot tension, which is a different sort of character, although intuitive soul that I am, I’ll not try to define it.

    Even if we have three characters watching the same engrossing, tense scene, if we’re in the head of one of them, feeling their fears and angst and thoughts, it would behoove the author to back out slowly, ratchet down that emotional tension, move to the action, and then show inside someone else’s head. If the action scene is tense, it can carry the emotional tension on to the next person. But you’ve got to be one whale of a good writer to pull it off. While, admittedly, I headhop during sex scenes, it’s generally by switching chapters, leaving a reader hanging so they’ll turn the page. If I do it within the scene, it won’t be at a particularly tense moment, but maybe at a time when one is questioning the other, creating that distance I need to make the leap.
    And Nina, losing our enjoyment in reading is one of the first losses of becoming a writer. It’s quite sad that we’re so easily jerked out of a story that way.

    Reply
  38. I agree, Tracy’s phrase works for me, and apparently most of us WWs. And Editor Holmes has pointed out the problem with headhopping (AgT, do you see what she’s saying?). If you’re in deep POV–really into that character’s head,emotions,fears–you can’t just abruptly jerk out and dash off elsewhere. You might as well smack the reader in the jaw. It may create tension of a sort , but maybe not the kind the reader wants to experience.
    I think AgT is describing plot tension, which is a different sort of character, although intuitive soul that I am, I’ll not try to define it.

    Even if we have three characters watching the same engrossing, tense scene, if we’re in the head of one of them, feeling their fears and angst and thoughts, it would behoove the author to back out slowly, ratchet down that emotional tension, move to the action, and then show inside someone else’s head. If the action scene is tense, it can carry the emotional tension on to the next person. But you’ve got to be one whale of a good writer to pull it off. While, admittedly, I headhop during sex scenes, it’s generally by switching chapters, leaving a reader hanging so they’ll turn the page. If I do it within the scene, it won’t be at a particularly tense moment, but maybe at a time when one is questioning the other, creating that distance I need to make the leap.
    And Nina, losing our enjoyment in reading is one of the first losses of becoming a writer. It’s quite sad that we’re so easily jerked out of a story that way.

    Reply
  39. I agree, Tracy’s phrase works for me, and apparently most of us WWs. And Editor Holmes has pointed out the problem with headhopping (AgT, do you see what she’s saying?). If you’re in deep POV–really into that character’s head,emotions,fears–you can’t just abruptly jerk out and dash off elsewhere. You might as well smack the reader in the jaw. It may create tension of a sort , but maybe not the kind the reader wants to experience.
    I think AgT is describing plot tension, which is a different sort of character, although intuitive soul that I am, I’ll not try to define it.

    Even if we have three characters watching the same engrossing, tense scene, if we’re in the head of one of them, feeling their fears and angst and thoughts, it would behoove the author to back out slowly, ratchet down that emotional tension, move to the action, and then show inside someone else’s head. If the action scene is tense, it can carry the emotional tension on to the next person. But you’ve got to be one whale of a good writer to pull it off. While, admittedly, I headhop during sex scenes, it’s generally by switching chapters, leaving a reader hanging so they’ll turn the page. If I do it within the scene, it won’t be at a particularly tense moment, but maybe at a time when one is questioning the other, creating that distance I need to make the leap.
    And Nina, losing our enjoyment in reading is one of the first losses of becoming a writer. It’s quite sad that we’re so easily jerked out of a story that way.

    Reply
  40. “I think AgT is describing plot tension, which is a different sort of character,”
    * * *
    Yes, I suppose. But I think there is a consensus here, namely that point-of-view switches do need skilled handling, but they are very far from being the strict, rigid no-no that is sometimes implied.
    🙂

    Reply
  41. “I think AgT is describing plot tension, which is a different sort of character,”
    * * *
    Yes, I suppose. But I think there is a consensus here, namely that point-of-view switches do need skilled handling, but they are very far from being the strict, rigid no-no that is sometimes implied.
    🙂

    Reply
  42. “I think AgT is describing plot tension, which is a different sort of character,”
    * * *
    Yes, I suppose. But I think there is a consensus here, namely that point-of-view switches do need skilled handling, but they are very far from being the strict, rigid no-no that is sometimes implied.
    🙂

    Reply
  43. What do you writers think of the style popularized by Mary Higgins Clark, in which there are rapid PoV shifts, but done in rapid changes of scene or chapter rather than within one scene? I usually enjoy her books, but it can get somewhat hectic when there are too many minor characters whose PoV comes in just long enough for them to be killed (think STAR TREK Away Team).
    I suspect this style is derived from screenplays.

    Reply
  44. What do you writers think of the style popularized by Mary Higgins Clark, in which there are rapid PoV shifts, but done in rapid changes of scene or chapter rather than within one scene? I usually enjoy her books, but it can get somewhat hectic when there are too many minor characters whose PoV comes in just long enough for them to be killed (think STAR TREK Away Team).
    I suspect this style is derived from screenplays.

    Reply
  45. What do you writers think of the style popularized by Mary Higgins Clark, in which there are rapid PoV shifts, but done in rapid changes of scene or chapter rather than within one scene? I usually enjoy her books, but it can get somewhat hectic when there are too many minor characters whose PoV comes in just long enough for them to be killed (think STAR TREK Away Team).
    I suspect this style is derived from screenplays.

    Reply
  46. on switching point of view in film:
    (relevant to??????)
    One of the most amazing things my father showed me about film, was how traditional chase scenes build up tension by switching point of view (cutting) one second less on each switch– so you can count down 10,9,8…..This,of course, only works for old films since the cutting in newer films is more fast paced. This may be completely unrelated to what you are talking about in writing– I suspect it is unrelated. Are there comparable techniques writers use to build suspense? (BTW, I’m not a writer, but a psychologist, so forgive my ignorance of writing technique)
    Merry

    Reply
  47. on switching point of view in film:
    (relevant to??????)
    One of the most amazing things my father showed me about film, was how traditional chase scenes build up tension by switching point of view (cutting) one second less on each switch– so you can count down 10,9,8…..This,of course, only works for old films since the cutting in newer films is more fast paced. This may be completely unrelated to what you are talking about in writing– I suspect it is unrelated. Are there comparable techniques writers use to build suspense? (BTW, I’m not a writer, but a psychologist, so forgive my ignorance of writing technique)
    Merry

    Reply
  48. on switching point of view in film:
    (relevant to??????)
    One of the most amazing things my father showed me about film, was how traditional chase scenes build up tension by switching point of view (cutting) one second less on each switch– so you can count down 10,9,8…..This,of course, only works for old films since the cutting in newer films is more fast paced. This may be completely unrelated to what you are talking about in writing– I suspect it is unrelated. Are there comparable techniques writers use to build suspense? (BTW, I’m not a writer, but a psychologist, so forgive my ignorance of writing technique)
    Merry

    Reply
  49. As Susan said , I’m an intuitive writer. Screenwriting would make me nutsoid. Or more so. But yes, I think the pacing of sentences, paragraphs, scenes, do affect the tension of a story, which is why Mary Higgins Clark does what she does.
    I daresay the screenwriting factor follows in the footsteps of plays. Shakespeare was a master of pacing and development. Pity I never studied him except as a sideline.
    Just think of an educational text with sentences a paragraph long and words big enough to break your back….slow, boring, tedious. Then throw in a few three word, one syllable sentences. Whop, gets your attention, doesn’t it? Same thing in any writing.

    Reply
  50. As Susan said , I’m an intuitive writer. Screenwriting would make me nutsoid. Or more so. But yes, I think the pacing of sentences, paragraphs, scenes, do affect the tension of a story, which is why Mary Higgins Clark does what she does.
    I daresay the screenwriting factor follows in the footsteps of plays. Shakespeare was a master of pacing and development. Pity I never studied him except as a sideline.
    Just think of an educational text with sentences a paragraph long and words big enough to break your back….slow, boring, tedious. Then throw in a few three word, one syllable sentences. Whop, gets your attention, doesn’t it? Same thing in any writing.

    Reply
  51. As Susan said , I’m an intuitive writer. Screenwriting would make me nutsoid. Or more so. But yes, I think the pacing of sentences, paragraphs, scenes, do affect the tension of a story, which is why Mary Higgins Clark does what she does.
    I daresay the screenwriting factor follows in the footsteps of plays. Shakespeare was a master of pacing and development. Pity I never studied him except as a sideline.
    Just think of an educational text with sentences a paragraph long and words big enough to break your back….slow, boring, tedious. Then throw in a few three word, one syllable sentences. Whop, gets your attention, doesn’t it? Same thing in any writing.

    Reply
  52. I think the absolute master of tension and relaxation in scenes was Tolkien. Thing of the anxiety-filled chase scenes followed by moments of peace and homeliness, like being pursued through the Shire by Black Riders, then meeting a company of Elves riding along the road, singing….

    Reply
  53. I think the absolute master of tension and relaxation in scenes was Tolkien. Thing of the anxiety-filled chase scenes followed by moments of peace and homeliness, like being pursued through the Shire by Black Riders, then meeting a company of Elves riding along the road, singing….

    Reply
  54. I think the absolute master of tension and relaxation in scenes was Tolkien. Thing of the anxiety-filled chase scenes followed by moments of peace and homeliness, like being pursued through the Shire by Black Riders, then meeting a company of Elves riding along the road, singing….

    Reply

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