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Head-Hopping

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One of the things many of my writing students seem to struggle with is keeping to the main character's viewpoint throughout the story. "But I want to tell the reader what the other characters are thinking/feeling," they complain whenever I point out that they've changed character viewpoint. Or - even worse - "I want to show how the mum/dad feels too."  A lot of new writers struggle with this so it's a subject I talked about in my new book Get Writing: Children's Fiction.

 

getwritingfront

I thought I'd share some of this advice with you, and ask if you have any further advice to add to it.

 

1. Choose who is going to be your main character and tell their story. Only tell the reader what this character sees, hears, feels, thinks, knows or does.

2. Don't tell the reader how a minor character thinks or feels or anything that happens out of the main character's line of vision such as another character pulling faces behind their back. If your main character can't see it happening then they don't know it's happening (unless another character tells them).

3. If you want to tell the story through two characters' point of view then start a new scene or, preferably, a new chapter when you are switching characters. And keep to that character's viewpoint for the whole scene or chapter. Don't switch viewpoints half way. Similarly if you use multiple characters' viewpoints keep to one viewpoint per scene/chapter.

4. If you get confused whether you are keeping to the character's viewpoint you might find Pamela Cleaver's example helpful. She referred to it as like the Gorgon sisters, who only had one eye and shared it among the three of them and advised that you told the story from the viewpoint of the character holding the eye.

 

Do you use multiple characters' viewpoint in your stories? If so, do you have any tips to share?

 

 

(This blog first appeared on An Awfully Big Blog Adventure )

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