Headhopping is dumbing down

I’ve been pondering “headhopping” or changing viewpoints right in the middle of action and then back, for a little while. It came up on a writer’s list I subscribe to.

When I was learning writing the rule was “NEVER headhop.” I searched “Can headhopping work?” and found out that the prevailing advice is still “No, it’s too confusing.”

At the same time we are urged not to treat readers as if they need their hands held and everything explained to them.

I think it’s a rule writer’s might need to rethink.

The conversation on the writer’s group got me thinking, but a story I am completely obsessed with introduced me to the idea. I talked about the last two Mondays by this point. The viewpoint sometimes switches to another character and then back again.

It didn’t confuse me at all. It startled me at first, because it’s not the usual way stories are written. For me it enhanced the story. I got a flood of emotions in every scene, from all sides.

I’m going to play around with the idea  little bit, maybe write some short stories with some hopping instead of sticking to one character. Just see what comes of it.

What do you think of the rule to stick to one view point? Is it a rule that is not to be broken ever in your opinion? OR do you think it can be done?

Or maybe you don’t follow any rules. Come on rebels, confess.

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6 thoughts on “Headhopping is dumbing down

  1. I think any rule broken well and for worthy reasons is a great thing. That said, head-hopping seems tough to pull off well mid-scene.

    • It has to have a reason and add to the story. And mostly I think it probably is hard to do, I’ve never tried which is why I’m curious. (Well I did have one scene in my latest book inadvertently, but it was edited out because it was one instance in a many chaptered book).

  2. I agree with August. Like they say, you have to know the rules so that you know when to break them. That being said, you need a solid point in the scene for the switch or it will be very jarring. I am very curious to know what book got you thinking. Was it a traditionally published book or an indie? I have read several traditionally published books recently that didn’t follow some of those rules others have pointed out as jarring or unacceptable.

    • It was fan fic of Dragon Age II.

      I think it may just be a personal preference thing. I don’t know. Not something that I mind anyway.

  3. Hmmm, I’m not a fan of head hopping. Yes, I’m intelligent enough to follow the stream, but it bugs me. I like to stay with a character through a scene, but that’s just me. I recently read a book where the writer head hopped to three different characters in the scene and I don’t think it added anything to the story, it just frustrated me. Still, it’s your book and you can do anything you want, even break rules!

    • It definitely has to add to the story. A few times when I was reading it was a bit odd, because one character would have a thought and the other would know what the first was thinking (sometimes explained away as knowing through a look on her face). That drove me crazy, but I liked seeing some of the same moments from the same perspective.

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