Yesterday, I talked about “headhopping.” That’s jumping from one character’s POV into another’s head in the scene. If you write this way, you’re in good company, but it’s jarring to the reader. In Self-Editing for Fiction Writers, by Renni Browne and Dave King, they open Chapter 3, Point of View, with a short passage from Larry McMurtry’s Lonesome Dove. It’s an example of headhopping.
“Larry McMurtry’s Lonesome Dove is a powerfully written book, yet some readers find it hard to get involved in the story, in part because of passages like the above. The characters are clear, the dialogue has an authentic feel, but in the second paragraph we’re seeing the scene as Joe sees it, in the third we’ve switched to Elmira, and in the last paragraph we’ve switched again, to July. We never settle in to a single point of view.” (Page 41) The passage is page 40. We’ll see it below.
This chapter explains the differences between first person, omniscient, and third person. My favorite way is third person, because if you write only from first person POV, you’re only going to get one person’s POV. It can be a very powerful vehicle, but keep in mind, it’s only one person’s perspective.