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.

Let’s Talk About POV and Deep POV

I have been an avid reader ever since I was able to read, as early as the Dick and Jane readers.  I have read many books in my life so far and hope to read many more.  I have read books that were fantastic, some that were just good, some that were mediocre and some that were quite bad.  Many of the books I have read were written in POV, but not Deep POV.  I don’t believe that made them bad books.  On the contrary, some of them were wonderful classic stories.

So, what are POV and Deep POV?  POV is the abbreviation of Point of View which is defined, by Merriam Webster, as a position or perspective from which something is considered or evaluated; standpoint.

In fiction writing, the position from which anything is considered in any particular scene should be the character through whose head we are viewing events.  In other words, a fiction writer should tell the story from only one character’s perspective, or two characters, but then separate each character’s point of view by page breaks or chapters.  There should be no head-hopping because that can lose readers.

Most books have been written well, without head-hopping, but many have used and many continue to use what is now deemed “shallow POV” and it is considered “telling” rather than “showing” and sounds as though there is a narrator telling the story to the reader.

Example:  He realized he was quickly running out of time to find a date for the prom.

Currently, in the fiction writing world, there is a push to do even better; to write in Deep POV; to get rid of the narrator.  This is done by really knowing your POVC, (Point of View Character); knowing him or her well enough that you are completely in their head and can only write things as that POVC sees and experiences them.  Taking the same example I used above for “shallow POV”, here it is rewritten in “Deep POV”:

Wow!  Where did the time go?  If he wanted to attend the prom, he’d better ask one of the girls today.

This may not be the best example, as I am just learning this “Deep POV” stuff myself.  I shared a portion of my WIP (work in progress) in a critique group a couple of weeks ago, and it was suggested to me that I study Deep POV and do my best to use it because it really makes your writing better.  It allows your readers to connect with your characters on a deep level which will draw the reader deeper into the story and keep them reading.

A short ebook was suggested to me, and it was mentioned that it was rather inexpensive at Amazon.  So, I looked it up and purchased it and am currently reading it, studying it and trying to put it into practice.  I have to admit that it will require me to reprogram my thinking in my writing, and I am finding it challenging.  The ebook that I am reading is called “Rivet Your Readers with Deep Point of View” by Jill Elizabeth Nelson.  I think the book is well written and she gives great examples that appear so easy, until I have to try to do them myself.  Although, after doing her worksheet to try to change some “shallow POV” sentences into “Deep POV” sentences, which I found difficult, I, then, went to a scene in my WIP and tried to apply the concepts and change that scene from “shallow POV” to “Deep POV”, and I found that much easier than the sentences on the worksheet in the ebook.  I believe that is because I know my characters so well.

To give you a better idea of what I’m talking about, I would like to share two of the examples that Jill Elizabeth Nelson shares in the book:

Shallow:  Pulling her coat tight against a frigid blast of wind, she thought she would never complain about the desert sun again.

Deep:  A frigid blast of wind iced her skin, and she pulled her coat tight around her.  She’d never complain about the desert sun again.

Shallow:  Thoughts of cake and candy tormented her.

Deep:  No sweets. No way. No how.  She wouldn’t give in to temptation.  “Yeah, right!”  Who was she fooling?

Can you see in these examples, how the shallow sound like they are being told by a narrator, and the deep sound like they are directly from inside the character’s head — no narrator?

So, what about you?  Do you use Deep POV?  Have you found it easy or difficult to utilize?

Muse or No Muse

I have been an active part of the writing world for a little over a year now, and I follow websites/blogs of some Christian and some secular writers, and I have found that the secular writers talk a lot about their “muse”, but I’ve never heard that mentioned in the Christian writer circles.  So, I became curious because I didn’t know what a “muse” was, but it was always referred to as a help to the writer.

Therefore, I looked it up and found that in Greek and Roman mythology muses were each of nine goddesses, the daughters of Zeus and Mnemosyne, who preside over the arts and sciences.  (That would explain why Christians don’t consider a muse).  The other definition I found said:  a woman, or a force personified as a woman, who is the source of inspiration for a creative artist.

I have been writing ever since I was a child and I never heard of a muse, even before I became a firm believer in Christ.  I do not get help from a “muse” to write my stories.  I have prayed for months over my writing before actually trying to write anything serious, seeking God’s guidance, and when the ideas began to flow, I knew they came from the Lord.  However, as I write, in addition to God’s help, my POV character also helps with the writing a lot. The better I know my POV character, the more that character helps me write the story by sometimes telling me what they want to happen and they’re ideas are usually quite good.

So, I have God and my POV but no muse and I like what I have. It works well for me. What about you? Do you have a muse? And, if so, tell me about it.

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: