The Danger of Head-Hopping

You know how Smokey the Bear warns against forest fires? Well, I am going to pull in my dog, Nola Bear, to warn you against head-hopping.

What is head-hopping?

I am glad you asked! 

No, it doesn’t involve the Red Queen (fortunately, everyone keeps her head). 

It is when you are in a scene and you change the point of view of the characters.

For example, let’s say that Lance and Justin are in the middle of a fight about who gets to be the lead singer. If a writer is head-hopping, one moment you are in Justin’s perspective as he throws Lance’s wallet across the room, and then in the next moment, you are in Lance’s head. 

Here is what it would look like written out:

Justin glared at Lance. He couldn’t believe that he wanted to be the lead singer. His hair wasn’t nearly as good as his, and he relied heavily on autotune. He needed to make him pay for his arrogance. What does he value more than anything? Justin thought.

He looked down at Lance’s wallet on the table. Oh, you fool. You should know to keep it in your pocket. 

Justin picked up the wallet and threw it across the room.

Oh, no!  Lance thought. He looked at his calendar. March 12 would forever be the day that he learned to watch his personal possessions. 

Okay, that was cheesy and a little silly, but you get the point. As a reader, you probably got serious whiplash.

But what you have multiple perspectives in your novel?

That is fine, but just keep a scene from one character’s perspective. Personally, I think it is even better if you can keep it to one perspective per chapter.

If you do that, Nola Bear can finally relax and no longer keep an eye out for head-hoppers. 

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