Whos On First?

Who’s On First?

by Anne Marble and Alison Kent

First, let’s define a couple of terms. Point of view, or POV, refers to whose senses a scene is filtered through. Head-hopping means switching from the POV of one character to another in the middle of a scene. Multiple POV means that the book explores the point of view of more than one character. A book can have multiple POVs without having head-hopping. Omniscient POV means that the scenes aren’t told through the viewpoint of a single character. In books with omniscient POV, scenes are described as though through the eyes of a camera – this POV is rare in most popular fiction today.

I can be a stickler for point of view. I will often complain about head-hopping in my reviews, or praise a book for its masterful point of view. To me, switching viewpoints is like changing lanes. You have to do it now and then. Sometimes, you have to change lanes to avoid accidents. But if you change lanes all the time, without any logic, you can wind up in a terrible pileup.

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