So, yeah… I’m late this week. But I don’t suppose anyone is chomping at the bit to read my posts promptly on Tuesdays. If you are, I’m sorry. Things get derailed sometimes. Life takes its own course.
But here we are.
First off, I removed the “Progress Update” part of the title of last week’s post. I realized it didn’t have anything directly to do with the progress of my novel and was just about the blog itself. If anything, it was anti-progress, because I was distracted by this sudden “need” to have artwork on my site, when in fact, I should just be focusing on finishing my book. In this post, however, I will talk about my progress a bit, so consider this my official second update. Who knows? Maybe I’ll just decide to remove the whole update thing altogether. It’s just another post, isn’t it?
But speaking of artwork… I have seen a couple preliminary sketches for one of my characters and I am super excited. The artist really perfectly captured her and I can’t wait to see the finished product. I’ll share it here when I have it.
I’m not yet sure if I’ll use the artwork in the actual book or not, but I’d definitely call having this artwork progress. I may end up releasing two different versions — I just thought of that actually — a regular version and an illustrated version. That sounds pretty cool. What do you think? Maybe once I share the art, you’ll have a better idea, but I’m pretty certain you’re going to like it.
So… to the topic at hand. Point of view.
In the latest draft of my novel, one of my challenges has been to shift the point of view to one character. In subsequent drafts, it would jump back and forth between my two protagonists within the same chapter. And I read somewhere at some point — can’t remember where or when exactly — that this is a common newbie mistake and isn’t usually a good idea. It hadn’t occurred to me that it could be confusing for the reader.
That said, none of my original readers mentioned it as being a problem. And even just last week, I was reading Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman and he jumped heads once or twice without a chapter break or a double space. And it didn’t bother me.
So, I’m not sure it’s really an issue. Granted, he only did it briefly. My earlier draft certainly did it more often, because I have two protagonists who are with each other most of the time.
Either way, I’ve decided that I’m going to stick with the plan. I feel that by keeping to primarily one head, the reader will be able to relate more and experience the story more as a participant, rather than as an outside observer.
Also, it gives me an chance to dig a little deeper into my one main protagonist’s head now. And I like some of the things that I’m exhuming: memories of a past relationship that I didn’t know he had, feelings toward his co-worker that are a little more complex than I had previously thought, and even more facets to his own goofy insecurities.
So I’m really enjoying this, even though at times it has been challenging. I’ve had to cut out the other character’s thoughts which is sometimes difficult. But I’m discovering that often leaving some bits out makes it more interesting. Beating the reader over the head with every detail can sometimes result in dull reading. It also gives her more mystery than she previously had, so I like that.
There are a couple of points, however, where I just haven’t been able to sort it out. I would’ve had to cut out a chapter completely, because some of the things that happened are things she wouldn’t share with the other protagonist. So, for now, there will still be a chapter or three from her point of view. When it’s all said and done, I’ll see how it feels. But for now, there will be a bit of a window into her soul as well, even though she’s not one to share too much even to herself.
So, if you’re a writer, I put the question to you.
How do you deal with point of view in your writing? Do you make a point of sticking to one character at a time? Do you speak from different points of view each chapter, like George R.R. Martin does in A Song of Ice and Fire? Do you just stay in one head the whole time? Or do you write from a sort of omniscient voice?
I’d love to hear what other writers do. Let me know in the comments!
6 responses to “Progress Update 002 — Jumping Heads”
There was a time when third person omniscient (jumping heads) was fairly common, but it’s become the more established norm to stick to third person limited, for exactly the reasons you mentioned – lets you feel closer to the book’s main character (or the MC of that chapter), lets you feel more a part of them rather than watching at a distance. If I’m reading 3rd person then I prefer limited, but only if it’s 100% – if I’m in one character’s head 98% of the time and then out of the blue they jump into someone else for a second, that’s really jarring. I’d rather it be consistent. And I agree with you that hiding details can actually make it more interesting – maintains some mystery and tension.
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Thanks, Shannon! I was probably about 60/40 between my two main characters in my earlier drafts. It’s been a challenge to change it, but I think it’ll be worth it in the end. It’s really interesting when you’re writing 100% in one person’s head, because it allows you to write things that they believe as truth, even when they might not be. Kind of fun to play with.
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“it allows you to write things that they believe as truth, even when they might not be” – excellent point!
I enjoy your blog so much that I’ve nominated you for an award! A shiny, sparkly one. It comes with a unicorn. 🙂 Check out this post for details on receiving it: https://snbradywriter.wordpress.com/2015/08/04/i-cant-say-neigh-to-a-unicorn/
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Thanks, Shannon! I’ve replied on your blog, so anyone else wanting my reply will have to go to Shannon’s awesome blog to read it! 🙂 Link above.