Monday, 5 December 2011

Mixed Messages

Recently I read a set of novels by a very well-known author. I luuuurved the books completely and have been recommending them to friends, but one problem I had during the reading caused a conflict within for two reasons.

1) There was some serious head-hopping going on.
2) Head-hopping is supposed to be a no-no, but this world renowned author is getting away with it when it's known for being a dirty great big fat no-no.

I realised this "dual rule" scenario happens quite a bit and have reached a conclusion whether it is correct or not. If you have a view that happens to be the right one, please, leave a comment and set me straight. Opinions on head-hopping are incredibly mixed.

Head-hopping is a big publishing industry no-no for the sole reason it causes reader distraction and interrupts the flow of the script and sentiment. Supposedly, books are to be written mainly from a single character's viewpoint for any number of reasons. Yet in this three part series I read every character in the book seemed to get a look-in, and I know for a fact that kazillions of these particular books have been sold in spite of this.

Was I distracted? Yes. Lots, in fact. Did it stop me from reading and turning every page with baited breath? Not at all. The story was too darn punchy. Did it interrupt the flow and make me backtrack? Definitely.

It's not the head-hopping (or crossed points of view) that gets me, but the fact the author gets to do it and everyone else who writes a book is deterred from ever doing so because they're probably going to botch it up entirely. What's good for the goose is not good for the gander. There are two different sets of rules: one for the published and one for the up-and-comings of the world.

My beef is this: So far I have had a great big fat handful of proofies read a certain story I wrote and only two have picked up on the apparent head-hopping. Part of me wants to fix this up so it's pristine for a potential agent who will undoubtedly pick on such misnomers. The other part of me wants to leave it as is because for those who have not found the occasional change in POV distracting, there has a been a power in it and they have loved knowing what someone else in the scene was thinking.

(The irony is that the two literaries picked up on it, and everyone else who would fall into the category of 'general readership' of the book's future market did not)

Hmmm... I am loathe to make the changes the story 'needs' because of the feedback I've had so far, but I know I'll probably polish the POV to please the agents and future editing eyes that will be cast over the MS in the days to come. It doesn't gall me, but it does make me go all lowbrow because I've read successful head-hopping as well as bad. Clearly it should not happen in every single scene on every single page because that would just be nasty, but if it happened once in a while, would that be so confusing?

Until I can find the absolute golden rule, I'll probably write to satisfy 'them' rather than me because the POV correctness will be advantageous in the end...

What say you? Is it only men who find POV distracting? Do women follow better because we can concentrate well on six different things at once? What's the permission for writing changing POV well? If a famous author is causing distraction but gets away with it, how can a pre-piblished author who does it well find any hope? What makes head-hopping work well?

"Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance. Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything. If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him. But when he asks, he must believe and not doubt, because he who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That man should not think he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all he does." James 1v2-8

Mes frères, quand vous passez par toutes sortes d'épreuves, considérez-vous comme heureux. Car vous le savez: la mise à l'épreuve de votre foi produit l'endurance. Mais il faut que votre endurance aille jusqu'au bout de ce qu'elle peut faire pour que vous parveniez à l'état d'adultes et soyez pleins de force, des hommes auxquels il ne manque rien. Si l'un de vous manque de sagesse, qu'il la demande à Dieu qui la lui donnera, car il donne à tous généreusement et sans faire de reproche. Il faut cependant qu'il la demande avec foi, sans douter, car celui qui doute ressemble aux vagues de la mer agitées et soulevées par le vent. Qu'un tel homme ne s'imagine pas obtenir quoi que ce soit du Seigneur. Son c  ur est partagé, il est inconstant dans toutes ses entreprises.

1 comment:

  1. Just reading about it makes my head spin,formulating an opinion is beyond me! Just give me a good book that gets me in and head hopping I will put up with. Do hope you get it sorted out. And i thought writing a book only took a good idea and enthusiasim--obviously mistaken.