perspective on perspective, or pov

I just today ran across a really good post from back in 2006 on Justine Larbalestier‘s weblog. It’s about (so-called) head-hopping (rapid shifting of point of view) and the general belief that such techniques are bad bad bad. She says:

Let me repeat: no writing technique is bad per se. Sure, it can be done badly, but that’s an entirely different issue. Writing that obeys all the writing workshop rules and deploys not a single adjective or adverb can also completely suck.

I have friends who are on this no-pov-shifting bandwagon, and who are quite vocal about it. For example, Jenny Crusie has been very clear about her dislike of rapid POV shifting. Now, I love her to death, but on this, I’m sorry to say, I think she’s got the wrong end of the proverbial stick.

Justine’s post is worth reading because she backs up her position with a lot of interesting observations This is one of those anti rules-of-thumb: If you are good enough, you can break any rule and not only get away with it, but pull off something wondrous.

In the spirit of full disclosure: I do sometimes use rapid POV shifting as a technique in certain kinds of scenes. A few people have emailed over the years to ask me why I would commit such a crime. I think now now that question has been answered, more by Justine than by me.

Enhanced by Zemanta

2 Replies to “perspective on perspective, or pov”

  1. What a terrific post. And the link to Larbalestier’s weblog is going to cause me serious time trouble. I could get lost over there for a day or two. I’m glad I keep up with yours or I’d be in double trouble.

    Omniscient is a tough POV to do well and it does seem to be somewhat out of favor at the moment. Many times I’ve read something then scratched my head over whether the author meant it to be omniscient or whether they were just happily head-blending on high speed. Let’s just say that since I’ve never stumbled over your rapid-fire shifts, you must be doing something right. I’ll have to look for them now…unless you want to, ya know, help me be lazy and post an example.

    I’m a first person junkie. I love to ramble around in a stranger’s head without their permission. This POV also has two camps: the love it and the hate it camps. At the moment, I’m trying to branch out, write in third, something everyone else can do in their sleep. Unfortunately, I tend to write ‘first-person third’, which is to say, I still stay in one person’s head.

    Really, I’ve got to get out more.

Comments are closed.