Monthly Archives: November 2014

Head Hopping

When I was in college, I had a teacher who told me I should have transitions between sections in my paper. She explained they were there for the reader to stay up with what I was saying.
I thought she was wrong and told her so. I pointed out that my introduction I had stated what I was writing about and presented the four major points of my paper.
She understood my point but persisted in wanting me to add transitions for my readers.
I continued working on my paper writing it just as I wanted, ignoring her advice. A few weeks later, I was rereading a section and as I turned a page, I lost where I was. I went back and reread the paragraph before, then had to go further back to regain a sense of what I was attempting to say.
Then, of course, her comment came back to me. I realized that I needed transitions for‘the readers,’ but also for me. My argument against doing things completely fell apart.
When I began writing fiction, I was told I was head hopping the points of view of the characters (POV). I thought the commenter’s views were silly, but I remembered my instructor. I wanted to argue that Hemmingway in, Old Man and the Sea, head hopped on the first page. I wanted to say that Larry McMurtry head hopped throughout Lonesome Dove. I wanted to point out that romance writers fill their books with head hopping.
I didn’t do any of those things. I knew she would have responded with:

(1) You are not a Hemmingway;
(2) Yes, McMurtry did that and many readers have commented they find him difficult to read, and
(3) This is not a romance novel. Romance writers head hop because of the intensity of the relationship and because the romantic relationship is, in one sense, a character. Your stories don’t have such an implied character.

So, I began going back through my writings to look for this type error. I found head hopping on almost every page of everything I wrote. I could have stopped writing. I didn’t. I began editing my works to remove head hopping and made a resolution to not do it in the future unless I was going to write a romance novel.