Thursday’s Thoughts, Questions, and Comments About Writing


Today I have chosen to address the topic of “head hopping”. Some of you may ask, “What is head hopping?”

Head hopping is when a writer jumps from one head to another (switches from one character’s POV to another) without warning. (POV is Point of View). This can be quite confusing to your reader. It can also jolt your reader right out of your story. It is simply that the writer tells or shows us what is going on inside their main character’s head, then in the next sentence, next paragraph, or next scene tells or shows us what is going on in another character’s head without warning.

For instance: Robert took Janie’s hand as they strolled along the beach. When his fingers entwined hers, an electrical current shot through his fingers and up his arm. He wondered if she felt it too. Janie nearly pulled her fingers from Robert’s at the strength of the jolt his touch sent through her. She studied his face for a clue that he had felt it too.

Notice that in the first three sentences, Robert is the character reaching out to take Janie’s hand and feeling an electrical current shoot through his fingers. Then he wonders if she felt it too. In the next two sentences, Janie is the character considering pulling her fingers from Robert’s because of the jolt she felt at his touch. Then she studies his face to look for a sign that he might have felt something as well.

Do you see how we jumped from Robert’s head (POV) to Janie’s head (POV) in the same paragraph, just a few sentences apart? If Robert is the main character and we are inside his head in this paragraph or scene, we should be shown his thoughts and feelings. However, Janie is probably a second main character as she is most likely Robert’s love interest. But Robert cannot know what she thinks or feels unless she talks about her thoughts or feelings or exhibits a physical reaction.

Some of you may not see a problem with the example paragraph. Maybe it doesn’t confuse you or pull you from the story. However, for most readers, reading an entire book written this way gets tiresome and confusing. This kind of writing doesn’t allow your reader to get deep into one character’s head–thoughts and feelings–to fully be drawn in and engaged with the story.

Does this mean you can only have one point of view character in a story to avoid confusing your reader or pulling them out of your story? Certainly not. You just have to learn, and put into practice, how to move smoothly from one character’s head to another’s to avoid the confusion and the possibility of pulling the reader out of the story.

How do you avoid this problem? Be aware of whose point of view you are writing in –which character’s thoughts and feelings is your reader experiencing? While telling and showing your main character’s thoughts and feelings, remain in that character’s head, sharing these things until a scene or chapter comes to an end. The best and smoothest ways to change to another character’s thoughts and feelings is to wait to begin a new scene, then add a page break (use a symbol such as an asterisk three to five times in the center of the page with a page space before and after it), or wait until you begin a new chapter. These two places make a natural place to change your character’s POV, and by placing the page break and symbol or changing the chapter, your reader will know something is going to change and will be ready for it–expecting it. This will prevent confusing and jolting your reader out of the story.

One more thing I want to point out is that a character’s actions and physical reactions can be written in the same paragraph or scene as the main character’s as long as the main character is with the character who is acting or physically reacting. The main character can see the other character’s actions and physical reactions as long as they are with that other character. The problem with thoughts and feelings is that your main character is not a mind reader and cannot possibly know what the other character is thinking or feeling.

I hope you find this article helpful along your writing journey. If you have any questions, comments or thoughts you’d like to share, please leave them in the comments section below. I will always respond.

Workshop and One-on-One

The workshop I want to share about today was presented by Mike Dellosso.  He is a Christian thriller/suspense writer.  He did a workshop on creating characters.

Mike said that creating authentic characters is important because the characters are the reason readers keep reading.  He said the antagonist should be someone the reader can identify with and can connect with.  The antagonist should also be someone the reader loves to hate but also has a connection with and, on a certain level, feels sorry for.

Mike said that giving characters heart and soul requires drawing much from your own experiences and using your desires, fears, etc.  

It’s important to give your character something to fight for.  i.e.:  Internal — self-worth, sanity, etc. or external — marriage, family, etc.

Mike explained POV (point of view):  First person — me telling the story — “I” (he suggested that this is the hardest to write); Second person — “You” (this is rare in fiction); and third person — “He said/she said”.  Third person limited — narrator telling from the narrator’s point of view (no thoughts, emotions, etc.), everything is base strictly on sight.  Third person omniscient — God View — can see inside the character’s head, heart and emotions — seeing inside the total person.  Deep third person is like first person but written as third using he or she instead of I but you are the main character.  Also, in deep third person you need to show who the speaker is through actions as much as possible (movement, body language).

POV “rules”:  One POV character per scene/chapter — no head hopping!  Stick to the POV!  The POV character never describes himself/herself unless he/she is looking at their reflection in a mirror or pool, unless they are getting dressed.  The POV character is the one whose five senses plus thinking/feeling — internal, the scene/chapter is focused on .  You cannot go into another character’s thoughts and senses.

Learn to observe people and take mental or real notes.

Describe enough of the character’s physical features so the reader can get a mental image but don’t overdo it.  Keep it minimal.  Describe females a little more than males because females show more variability in their looks than males.

Show action.  People move in real life:  body language, facial expressions, scratching, etc.

For dialogue learn to listen to people and take mental or real notes.  Listen to the way people talk and how conversation flows.  Long monologues are not normal.  It’s a lot of back and forth.  Characters should sound different because they have different personalities: a favorite word or phrase, accent, vocabulary, speed of speech.  Make their words count.

If you kill a character, someone needs to care, and it should either be the reader (preferably) or a character in the story, or both.

Bad guys can be redeemed at the end as long as it’s plausible enough that the reader will buy it.

Don’t use words if you don’t know what they mean.

Research whatever you don’t know; enough to get the idea and to make it authentic to your readers.


In addition to Mike’s workshop, I had signed up to have a one-on-one 15 minute session with Mike because I wanted to know a little more about writing suspense stories and because I had questions about POV.  (I had my one-on-one with Mike before his workshop). He was very helpful in tips and advice he offered and he was very encouraging.  I enjoyed meeting Mike and having the opportunity to discuss writing with him.

Mike Dellosso currently has seven books published:  six suspense/thriller books and one under the pseudonym Michael King.  He had six out of the seven books available in the conference books store.  Mike also has a great website.  Check out:

What I Need to Work On

Saturday, I attended my Writers’ Group.  We had another author as a guest speaker.  She writes Amish fiction as well as something called “Steam Punk” fiction.  I had never heard of Steam Punk fiction before but she even came dressed in Steam Punk apparel because upon leaving our Writers’ Group, she had a book signing for her Steam Punk fiction at a nearby historical railroad.

Her Amish fiction books are written under the name of Adina Senft and her Steam Punk books are written under the name of Shelley Adina.  She talked about several of her books and I was quite intrigued by the ones labeled as “Steam Punk” fiction.  I was disappointed that she didn’t have any books to sign and sell to our group due to time constraints, and probably because she needed what she brought for the book signing event.  Therefore, I will have to look for her books online.

She spoke to us about “World Building Through Your Character’s Eyes” (setting).  It was a wonderful workshop, though she went through it quite quickly because she normally takes three hours to teach it, and, for us, she had to squeeze it into one hour and forty minutes.  She had notes on an overhead, so I scribbled furiously in my notebook to be sure to catch the most important points, and, thankfully, she handed out a sheet with some of the more important points on it.  I have come to truly enjoy and value attending this writer’s group.  

I am learning so much, which brings me to the reason for the title of this post.  I stepped out of my comfort zone and shared two scenes of a story I am working on with a critique group, and they were very kind.  One lady blessed me by telling me all of the things she felt were very strong in my writing.  Those who told me my weakness, said, “point of view”.  I have been told this once before but this time it baffled me because I thought I was doing well with the point of view in this story.  In the past, with the story that I had been told had a confusing point of view, the person explaining it pointed it out to me and it was perfectly clear what I had done wrong.  I have been very careful not to do that with this story, and the thing they pointed out as the point of view issue seems strange to me because I am only sharing my main character’s thoughts and feelings.  The example they pointed to had a sentence or two of my main character’s thoughts before my secondary main character told her one of the stories of his life, and all she did was listen.

Do any of you have problems with point of view and how do you resolve it?  I will be researching point of view now to see if I can understand it better.  If you have any tips or advice on point of view, please leave a comment.  I would greatly appreciate it.

Point of View: Yours, His, Hers or Theirs?

How do you decide whose point of view to tell your story from?  Do you simply choose the point of view that is easiest for you to write from?

Since my last short story, Out of the Pit, I have given this a lot of thought.  Should I become the main character and tell my story from the first person point of view?  This really limits what your main character can know, because they can not tell anything about the story that they are not knowledgeable of.  They can’t tell you what happened in a place they weren’t at.  They can’t tell you what happened to a character they weren’t with.  It might make it easier to keep your story focused and not stray from your story line.  I know at least one writing teacher who stresses that their students tell their first novel from the first person point of view.

Do I create a main character, male or female, and tell the story from their point of view, but not becoming them.  In other words, third person?  And, of course, if I write in third person, it should be limited to keep from abrupt changes that would lose my reader.  That means that I tell the story from my main character’s point of view, but use “he” or “she” pronouns instead of “I”.  That allows me more freedom to offer details to my reader that my main character may not know about places he/she hasn’t been.  If you choose to write in third person and use two main characters, it is important to make clean breaks between whose point of view is being used when.  In other words, after the part that is told from the first character’s perspective, use a page break, like extra space between paragraphs, a line between the last paragraph and the new section, or change your chapter, to make it clear to your reader that the next part of the story is being told from the second character’s point of view.

It is very rare that a writer writes from multiple characters’ points of view, and it is very difficult to pull off successfully.  Often, a story told this way is choppy and difficult for the reader to follow.  Also, there isn’t a protagonist for the reader to really get to know and care about, which causes the reader to dislike the story or maybe, stop reading the story.  Readers like to get lost in the story.  They want to feel like they are the main character or that they know the main character personally.  If there are too many main characters, the story will lose this ability and may turn the reader off.

My opinion:  write in either first person or third person from just one character’s point of view.  This keeps it fairly simple to write, and because you become so in tune with that one, main character, that character becomes richer and more realistic to your reader, and your reader will be able to relate to that character, like that character, and care about that character.  It allows you to create the kind of character that a reader wants to read about again (they hate to see the story end because they feel as though they are losing a friend).  You can create other rich characters in the story as well, but it is your main character or protagonist that will capture your readers’ hearts.

Let’s Talk About My Writing/Stories

If you’ve been reading my blog for a while, you may have read my novella and short story that I posted here.  These were sort of experiments for me for several reasons:  1)  I never wrote mystery/suspense stories before, though those are my favorite types of stories to read; 2) I never posted stories online before; 3) I wrote these stories on my blog right off the top of my head, and the only editing I did was to read back over what I had written to correct spelling, grammar and maybe some wording here or there, right after writing, before hitting the “Publish Post” button; 4) I wanted to see if I could attract readers.

I thoroughly enjoyed these two exercises and attracted quite a few readers.  I had a couple of friends and relatives absolutely glued to my novella, anxiously looking for a new post each and every day.  That made writing it, so much more fun.  I didn’t seem to have that same response with my short story, though I still attracted a fair amount of readers.

Now, let’s talk about what I think is right and what I think is wrong with these two pieces of writing.  Let’s start with the novella, Dangerous Secrets.  I enjoyed writing this story and receiving everyone’s encouragement to keep going, but in the end, I was more disappointed with this story than I was with the short story I posted later.  Here’s why:  I could have continued the story into a full-length novel with the number of characters I introduced and the situations I put them in.  The good thing about this story, is that I did a good job at holding my readers’ attention and seemed to always leave them wanting more at the end of a day’s post.  But, in the end, I had both a friend and a relative tell me that I could have done so much more with the story, and I was well aware of that, but I did not want to put a full-length novel on the blog for everyone to read for free.  (If I am going to write a full-length novel, I hope to have it published or put it in an E-Book and earn some money from it.  I don’t think that’s selfish.  I think it’s realistic, and writing a full-length novel is a lot of hard work.)  Because of all of this, I ended the story too soon.  Yes, I tied up the loose ends and I believe the ending gave closure, but it definitely has the potential for me to re-visit it and turn it into a full-length novel someday, if I choose to.

Now, about the short story, Out of the Pit.  I didn’t get as much feedback from friends and relatives on this story, but I really liked this story.  I was pleased to keep my cast of characters at a number that was very workable in a short story, so by the time I ended the story, it felt more like the story was over and not like I could do a lot more with it.  I liked my characters in this story better, felt that I had developed them better and that I knew them better.  So, where did I go wrong with this story?  In the “point-of-view”.  I have never written a story in the first-person.  It isn’t comfortable for me.  I find it too confining.  However, I stretched the third-person point-of-view beyond the limits in Out of the Pit.  You see, it is best to write third-person “limited”, which means stick to telling the story from the main character’s point-of-view, or at the most, from your main character’s and one other important character’s points-of-view, by using a page-break or writing every other chapter from the other character’s point-of-view.  What did I do wrong?  I wrote from many characters’ points-of-view.  I let them share their thoughts, and this caused the story to jump or bounce around too much.  It gave the readers a jolt each time a change in point-of-view came, and this can cause readers to not get as involved because they don’t get to really know and care about the main character or two main characters, because they are getting too much information from minor characters.  I may go back and edit this story sometime, because I still really like it.

So, be aware of whose point-of-view you are telling your story from.  Limit whose thoughts and feelings you choose to share and be sure to create characters that your readers will really care about.

I learned of my point-of-view problem from a publishing consultant, who was gracious enough to look at my short story and offer me feedback.  So, I would like to take a minute here and let you know that WinePress Publishing has a great opportunity for writers.  You can work with a professional writer or editor for six months, and they will help you write a novel, and then you can publish your completed novel with WinePress Publishing.   It is a self-publishing publishing company.  Visit their website for more information at:

You may also be interested in The Story Cartel Writing Course.  Visit: