Tuesday, January 23, 2007

And the Debate Goes on...

MENTAL STATUS: "Fuzzy". That sore throat thing I had a few days ago is now in my sinus area. Went to my dentist appt. yesterday only to learn it was really for next Monday (they saw me anyway). Cannot find my portable DVD player ANYWHERE. And put too much cheese in the Stromboli I made for dinner last night and ended up with melted cheese in my oven. Do you know what that is like? Think melted and cooled candle wax. Ughh.

Well, one of my critique forums is having a bit of a discussion on the dreaded "head popping". I think the article in writing world says it perfectly.

In the article, Ann Marble gives this example (which I love):

Glancing over the top of her menu, Blythe looked Anthony in the eye. She knew he was worried that she was going to order the lobster. "The specials look nice," she said, wondering if he would notice that the featured special was lobster. He needn't have worried. What she really wanted was the buffalo wings.

I know she's going to order the lobster. He smiled, hoping she didn't realize he was nervous. Anthony realized that his menu hadn't come with the list of specials. Well, he should be safe; this place never listed lobster as one of the specials. Blythe was really beginning to annoy him. She'd told him she liked buffalo wings, but the first time they went out, she'd ordered lobster!

The waitress came by. From the moment she saw this couple, she knew she'd get a lousy tip because this man was already scowling at his date, as if afraid she would order something expensive. She tried to keep her voice cheerful as she asked, "Are you ready to order?"

Wow. Was that a classic case of head popping or what? I'm still dizzy.

Now, many authors do switch POVs in their books, and that's a worst case scenario. But you can see how annoying something like can be in just 3 paragraphs, let alone a whole chapter when it isn't done right. Take Nora Roberts. I never never ever notice her POV switches, until I go back and look for them. Then I think, Son of a gun. She's good. (But she does have quite a few books under her belt.)

I like to use the analogy of American Idol. You have this singer. She's good, but inexperienced. The judges are loving her week after week. Then she does the unthinkable. She chooses a Mariah Carey or Celine Dion song. Oh no. The judges are slapping their hands against their foreheads saying, "No, no! You're good but you're not ready to take on a song like that!" Oh pooh. Well, I think writing is kind of like that. If you're inexperienced (AKA unpublished), leave the POV switches to the professionals.

Now, sometimes, even with the experienced writer (except Nora), I find POV switching annoying. Am I becoming a POV snob? A little. Maybe. I think it's because I read too much and see such different styles that I'm gaining a preference.

There aren't any hard and fast rules on writing, and I hate to be a Nazi about them when I'm critiquing someone's work. After all, there is a time and place to experiment and find your own style and voice. But if your critique partners don't think what you're doing works, it might be back to the drawing board for you.

(Are you a POV snob too?)


Elle Fredrix said...

I'm all for the seamless POV switch within a scene. Notice I said seamless! I do it, and I've never had negative feedback.

The trick is to only do it occaisionally, and to do it when it makes sense. Of course, others would argue that it never makes sense!

Jennifer Shirk said...

LOL I'm laughing at the "seamless" point of view switches.

Yes, there are times when it makes absolute sense to switch. But I think there's an art to it.

But if nobody's complaining, you must be doing it right. :)

Chicki said...

When I first started writing I was a notorious headhopper, but I've gotten much better at it. I think my problem is that I'm a movie fanatic. I see the scenes in my stories in head like I'm watching a movie. On the screen you get to see everybody's reaction. In a book it's different. Thank goodness I have great crit partners who always call me on the slips.

Chelle Sandell said...

I like to see both pov's but I agree with the talented art side of it! I had a problem with it when I started and "hopefully" have gotten a little better?

Erin said...

When I switch POV's I always use a scene or chapter break. It's jarring when your reading a book and the writer is jumping in and out of people's heads. I'd rather get to know the main characters instead of everyone.