Third Person limited, vs the dreaded Head Hopping…

 

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A couple of posts got me mulling over today’s topic, writing in third person limited vs. random, willy nilly head hopping with no real reason or strategy….

So, here’s my question of the day:

Just how do you widen your  story perspective using third person, and convey other characters pov’s in a strategic and methodical way without randomly shifting heads and risk losing your readers in the process??

 In a post on the craft of perspective over at “Brevity.wordpress.com,” Judithe Hannan writes:

“Unfettered writing, for our ears alone, can open doors, but to get to the doors behind the doors we can’t be Narcissus staring at his own reflection. We need other faces looking back at us, we need craft, and we need to connect our story to a world beyond our small pond.

And I would have to agree. After all, our stories are our stories, and exciting and intriguing they may be, but if we want them to reach other ears, they need to be tuned into full-blown operas! Hannan goes on, describing her attempts in doing just this:

“My lens didn’t only have to be compassionate, it had to be wider. When I first wrote about my daughter’s cancer I wasn’t telling a story about people but about IV’s, scans, chemo drugs, and scars. I created a cloistered world…where no one learned or evolved. So I stepped back. I described the doctors, observed the different ways my daughter and I interacted with them and…found an opportunity to explore our dynamic with each other…When I zoomed out and saw myself against the backdrop of the larger world, I emerged transformed as a mother, wife, and friend.”

Hannan makes some good points here, and as my own novel has evolved, I too found myself stepping back from first, to third and back again before deciding on third person limited to best tell the story, but I am learning to do it in a controlled manner without the dreaded head hopping!

Don’t get me wrong. My first drafts at using third limited have been loaded with many instances of the ugly deed, which thankfully, were pointed out in workshop, and since been corrected. And once I got the hang of it, using third limited can be a breath of fresh air as it gave me, the author, the ability to move around inside the story and command it, taking the characters with me as I go, much like moving chess pieces around on the board. I am still in charge at all times, but my characters now have the chance to speak their minds and that, is what gives depth to a story! I dare say, makes it all that much more fun not only to write, but to read too! After all, if you’re going to entertain, go for it!

Especially if you’re writing crime fiction, like me. Why just describe a bad guy when you can really get into a bad guy’s head, thoughts, motives, and actions! Hell, why just tell or talk about the body being dumped out of the car and into the alley from another characters perspective, when you can show it as it’s happening from inside their head, getting all down and dirty with it??

Which style do you prefer as both a writer and or reader, and why???

As always, your thoughts are welcome!

 

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