The title of this post is really Multiple POVs. Just wanted to get your attention. ;)

I know there aren't any ironclad rules, but generally speaking, how many point of view characters are enough for one multiple POV thriller? How many are too many? What's the most you've ever seen?

And, when you are working on a book with multiple POVs, do you stick to one POV per scene? Is head hopping ever a good idea?

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"Head hopping" is repeatedly changing POVs inside the same scene. Joe goes to Jane's house to ask questions. We're in Joe's head as he sees the house, knocks on the door; then Jane answers and suddenly the reader is in Jane's head: A few lines later, Jane's daughter Jill comes out of the bedroom and suddenly the reader is transported to Jill's head. One scene, three POVs. All literature on writing fiction says it's easier for the reader to involve herself in the story if the writer sticks to one POV per scene. This what Dana meant by "rule." It is standard teaching for fiction. But lots of writers mess around with it, obviously.

I just saw "head-hopping" defined in a very different way, in this same forum.

And it makes more sense.  Basically not assigning some number to how often you can change POV's, but the idea of whether or not it's confusing.

That's subjective, or course.  But I think just deciding "only one change per scene" is pretty arbitrary, too.  

I've seen quite a bit of writing where the viewpoint moves around like that.

From what I've been seeing of "writing teaching" I kind of doubt there is any study of what readers involve themselves in.  My feeling is that they involve themselves in a cool story, and don't give a damn about that stuff.  I sure don't.  And we've seen several people in this discussion saying they didn't really notice such change-ups.

If I see good writers doing something, I don't care if some "teacher" says it can't be done.

And, I gotta reapeat.  "POV" is not a "rule".  There's just no wiggle-room on that.

Amd I don't see how something can be "head hopping by definition" when nobody seems to agree on the definition.

Do what you want. But you're wrong if you think there is not a craft to learn. 

Did somebody say there is no craft to learn?   In fact, I think I made it clear I go out of my way to learn.

Doesn't mean I accept things that make no sense.

I don't understand why so many people do that.  They cite some rule, that isn't even really a rule, or at least nobody can agree with what it is, then if you say  best ignore it, it's "Oh, so you're all in favor chaos and sluttiness."

Looked at your book on Amazon. You don't need to learn POV, or even fiction, as far as I could tell. Cammy May is the only character talking. You write first person memoirs.

Seems to me you go out of your way to argue, not learn.

And, I gotta reapeat.  "POV" is not a "rule".  Actually, the period goes inside the quote marks (unless you're British). Now that's a rule!

But in fiction writing I'm not sure there are any hard and fast rules, more like conventions that you may violate at your peril.

Cormac McCarthy and E. L. Doctorow don't use quotation marks in their dialog, for example, and Doctorow doesn't even divide by chapters. But they can pull it off. (Just a guess, but I think their purpose in avoiding the quote marks is to provide a more immersive read, the technique forces the reader to focus a bit more.)

I have my own issues with quotation marks. I have this whole theory about when someone is telling a story and how some of it is paraphrasing and some direct quotes and I work very hard to get this impression across. Some readers seem to like it, some Amazon or GoodRead reviews say, "This book was poorly edited." I feel bad that my editor is getting the blame, but them's the breaks, right?

I still say how you feel about all this (rules and conventions and so on) has to do with what your writing objectives are. For me, I'm willing to break a lot of the rules to get the writing the way I want it but I know that means my chances of a bestseller have been reduced.


You cannot please everybody, so please yourself!

(Though I don't follow the quote business. There are two kinds of quotes, single and double, and there's indirect speech for paraphrasing. ???)

I've seen a couple of other writers who don't use quote marks.

My guess would be they just like it. Or don't feel like quotes are worth messing with.  Not that they made the decision for some thoughty literary reason.

Just a hunch.  :-)

It can be head hopping by definition, even if I didn't notice. Kind of like what would happen if Salma Hayak was wearing a bikini and had a zit. She'd have a zit; no argument. I wouldn't likely notice it.

Ah, Dusk to Dawn, the table dance.  It would be impossible for a goddess like Selma to have such a blemish.  She is far too perfect.

Writing fiction doesn't have rules (check Cormac McCarthy), but there are conventions that we accept because the resulting prose are more pleasing.  I think a novel can have planned changes in POV, but at the least, they should forward the purpose of the narrative and it should be made plain to the reader.  I don't think the same is generally true of short stories or novellas.

My own rule is to use one pov so as not to rile the reader (or my picky editor).

You're confusing me, Brian.  One moment you say you are paying the editors, then you're saying you have to restrain your writing to please them.

I don't get it


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