As a writer, you are made aware that there are a number of rules by which you must write. Part of me, the one pepetually stuck in my teenage years, wants to thumb my nose at this never ending list of Do’s and Don’ts. However, I’m a logical, thinking adult…and I still want to thumb my nose at the damn list. Since writing is a craft you are continually perfecting, I have no doubt that I have broken several of these rules without even thinking about it.
Yet, until my latest WIP, there is one rule I’ve been very careful of not breaking–keeping a consistent point of view.
If you’ve read (or are planning to read) my first two books, you’ll note that we are always in Raine’s point of view. Since I’m easily confused, will just label my style as Third Person Limited–basically the story is told from the protagonist’s POV using “he” and “she”. This has worked quite well for me, until Xander and Warrick decided to show up.
I’ve tried the First Person POV–everything told from the protagonist’s POV. This style lures you in with the promise of pulling your readers in closer to your character. Those snickers you hear as you dive in? That’s the style laughing it’s ass off at you because you have stepped into the quagmire of “I thought…”, “I moved…”, “I…”, “I…” and it so hard to drag yourself free. I have mad respect for all those writers who’ve used First Person POV brillantly. I’ll even admit to having a partial story in this style. It’s now sitting in a corner by itself until it learns to behave better.
There is this term–”Head hopping” that most writers hear. For those not familiar with this term, pick up a book and tell me, how many of the characters are telling the story? Are there chapter or scene breaks inbetween each character’s scene? If so, the writer is skating the thin edge of the rules, but doing well. But say you go from John’s perspective to Mary’s, then to Roman’s all within a page, back to John’s, then to Roman’s, then to Mary’s, all within two pages, that’s called head hopping. It’s a bit like standing in the center of the room with the characters surrounding you and you spin endlessly trying to follow along.
Now, one of my favorite authors (and no, I’m not sharing the name) likes to head hop, and they have TONS of books out there. As a reader I’m okay with it, those stories work for me. As a writer, I’ve tried very hard never to head hop. For me (THIS IS MY OPINION!) I always felt like I was cheating if I had to use multiple perspectives to get the story across to the readers.
Recently, I’ve had to change my mind. Those who’ve been following along know I’ve struggled to get Shadow’s Moon under way as I searched for the correct POV to do the story from. Finally, this weekend, it hit–this story is about two very distinct people, therefore the reader needs to hear both of their voices.
So those rules you hear all the time, take them with a huge salt lick. Rules are a great way to help you start out in writing, but don’t be afraid of ignoring them and jumping off your creative cliff occassionally. You’ll be surprised what meets you half way down!