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Things I didn't know

Crumbly Writer

A few things (following my experiment having my book professionally edited) I didn't know about writing, and a few questions along the way.

First, using -ing verbs implies they all happen at the same time. Thus if I say "I went to the dance, dancing, drinking, singing and talking", it implies I did them all at the same time. Who knew?

Also, I'm confounded about how to apply her head-hopping observations. I'd always thought that, by writing in 3rd Person Omni, that I had more latitude in including observations of what the different characters's motivations are. However, according to her, the POV is whichever character gets the main focus, and anything she can't observe firsthand is invalid head-hopping.

In the following example, I present a scene which the unknown narrator is recounting how everyone in the car is reacting to an abortive party the family attended. If her head-hopping restrictions are true, none of the characters can actually know what any others are thinking, even if the narrator does. Thus I've got to toss the entire passage in its entirety (as I can't conceive of how else to present the information).

The passage follows:

The two denizens of the back seat wrestled with impatient expectations. It was a long evening, and the drive home seemed endless to Otis and his sister, Geraldine. They'd spent the evening at a cocktail party thrown by their father's co-workers. Not knowing any of the kids, the entire experience was strained. The children who knew each other teased and flirted, ignoring Otis and Ger, as she preferred to be called. The trip home didn't improve anyone's mood.

Otis stared out the window at the inky darkness surrounding them. There were few lights in this area of the country, and the few available were overwhelmed by the van's headlights.

Ger nibbled on her fingernails, a nervous habit which drove Otis and their mother, Kelly, up the wall. Ger's evening was worse than Otis'. While he'd been ignored, at least there were kids his age. She'd been stuck babysitting the five and under kids, while struggling for inclusion by the older children, who wanted nothing to do with her. Noting she'd bitten her nails to the quick, she sat on her hands. "When do we get home?"

Their father, Liam Cruz, sighed, glancing back in the rear view mirror. "We're almost home. You've driven this road hundreds of times. You should recognize it by now."

The party was his idea. He knew the kids had few friends and thought this get together would allow them to build friendships. Yet, they seemed more distant and his coworkers weren't pleased either.

Ernest Bywater
Updated:

@Crumbly Writer


according to her, the POV is whichever character gets the main focus, and anything she can't observe first hand is invalid head-hopping.


That concept is not third person omni - it's a single point of view not an omni point of view.

funkso

@Crumbly Writer

First, using -ing verbs implies they all happen at the same time. Thus if I say "I went to the dance, dancing, drinking, singing and talking", it implies I did them all at the same time. Who knew?


Right, but only because you prefixed it with "I went to the dance" - which is implying you did those things on your journey to the dance, at the same time.

If you had said "I spent my time at the dance, dancing, drinking, singing and talking" it would imply you did those things during the course of the dance but not necessarily simultaneously.

I wouldn't read they are necessarily all happening at exactly the same time, but within that period. In the case of the narrow period of time you specified, it sounds simultaneously.

Also, I'm confounded about how to apply her head-hopping observations. I'd always thought that, by writing in 3rd Person Omni, that I had more latitude in including observations of what the different characters's motivations are. However, according to her, the POV is whichever character gets the main focus, and anything she can't observe firsthand is invalid head-hopping.


It depends. She is describing Third-person Limited where the narrator is the character who is the subject at the time, you're describing Third-person omniscient where the narrator is some unknown being who can head hop between anyone.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Narration#Third_person

So, uh, yeah... huh.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
aubie56

@Crumbly Writer

CW,

I see absolutely nothing wrong with these paragraphs. In fact, I would describe them as a example of excellent writing. I guess that's why I prefer to stick to the First Person--Past POV when I write.

Switch Blayde

@Crumbly Writer

First, using -ing verbs implies they all happen at the same time. Thus if I say "I went to the dance, dancing, drinking, singing and talking", it implies I did them all at the same time. Who knew?


That sentence doesn't make sense, but I've mentioned a similar thing several times in this forum. I remember pointing out that I read something like, "He was running to the tent and put on his pants." The author meant "he ran to the tent and..." but the way he wrote it meant he put on his pants while running.

But you can write, "I was singing, dancing, and drinking all night long at the party," meaning you were doing all those things at the party but not necessarily at the same time.

Also, I'm confounded about how to apply her head-hopping observations. I'd always thought that, by writing in 3rd Person Omni, that I had more latitude in including observations of what the different characters's motivations are. However, according to her, the POV is whichever character gets the main focus, and anything she can't observe firsthand is invalid head-hopping.


If that's what she said, she's wrong. That's 3rd-person limited. Maybe she doesn't understand omni or maybe you were head-hopping in omni (getting into a character's thoughts directly) so she assumed it was limited.

Switch Blayde

@Crumbly Writer

The passage follows:


There is nothing wrong with that passage if written in omni.

Replies:   Chris Podhola
paliden

I found this while doing a search on "head-hopping".

What Is Head Hopping and How Can We Avoid It?
November 12, 2013 by Marcy Kennedy

http://marcykennedy.com/2013/11/head-hopping-can-avoid/

She posted this link near the bottom of her article.

How to Avoid Head-Hopping by Jami Gold on February 3, 2011

http://jamigold.com/2011/02/how-to-avoid-head-hopping/

Replies:   richardshagrin
richardshagrin

@paliden

Singing and drinking at the same time is challenging. Unless you have more than one mouth and throat.

Chris Podhola

@Switch Blayde

There is nothing wrong with that passage if written in omni.


I'll defer to you because you seem to understand POV better than anybody else I know, but I was left with the impression that she meant that he had parts of his manuscript written in either third limited (or third multiple) but had sections written in omni.

I can't think of any trad books published where the POV drifted back and forth from those POV's. So, I'm asking--is there ever a time when you can (Other than writing a prologue in one POV and the rest of the story in a different POV), where it would be acceptable to drift back and forth between third limited and omni?

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Switch Blayde

@Chris Podhola

That's why I qualified it by saying there's nothing wrong if the story is written in omni

I can't think of any trad books published where the POV drifted back and forth from those POV's.


There are books like that. Sometimes a chapter starts in omni to introduce the reader to something and then it reverts to limited (or maybe even 1st).

I just read something about some famous authors getting away with head-hopping. I mean changing to a new character's POV with a new paragraph. The comment was, unless you're a famous author, don't do that. You won't get away with it. But the point is, if you tell a great story, you can get away with most anything.

Replies:   Chris Podhola
Chris Podhola

@Switch Blayde

That's what I thought. I was just seeking clarification. Thanks.

Crumbly Writer

@funkso

If you had said "I spent my time at the dance, dancing, drinking, singing and talking" it would imply you did those things during the course of the dance but not necessarily simultaneously.

Not according to her (which is why I'm asking about it here).

As for the 3rd person omni, I assumed it was obvious from the story which story form I was using. But maybe it wasn't as obvious as I believed it was.

I see absolutely nothing wrong with these paragraphs. In fact, I would describe them as a example of excellent writing. I guess that's why I prefer to stick to the First Person--Past POV when I write.

Thanks, Aubie, I appreciate that. However, that's precisely why I write in 3rd person omni, so I can head-hop. I started writing my first story in 3rd person, and felt myself stymied by its limitations. I've never looked back. One of these days I need to try writing a present tense story, but my omni narrator demands I write from a point in the indefinite future. :)

I'll defer to you because you seem to understand POV better than anybody else I know, but I was left with the impression that she meant that he had parts of his manuscript written in either third limited (or third multiple) but had sections written in omni.

Chris. Nope. The entire thing was written in 3rd Omni past. I might include an occasional though (with single quotes to establish it's a though), but those are rare, as it generally doesn't add much to the plot.

The end result, between her chopping my writing style and these pieces of bad advice, I'm seriously questioning her qualifications! However, I still insist, her version of my story was a smoother read (probably because she included so little of my story in it!).

Dominions Son

@Crumbly Writer

I still insist, her version of my story was a smoother read (


smoother read is not necessarily the same as a better read.

Too smooth = boring and lifeless.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@Dominions Son

smoother read is not necessarily the same as a better read.

I've been wrestling with the difference between my SOL fans (who prefer longer, more detailed stories) and the "book buying public", who lead busy lives and can't be bothered wasting time with overly long books. I've learned how to trim my writing style, but wanted to know how to trim my books during the editing process (something I'm still not very good at).

Replies:   Dominions Son
Dominions Son

@Crumbly Writer

I've been wrestling with the difference between my SOL fans (who prefer longer, more detailed stories) and the "book buying public", who lead busy lives and can't be bothered wasting time with overly long books.


I do some of both, though mostly e-books these days. even for an e-book, I still prefer longer.

Switch Blayde

@Crumbly Writer

Nope. The entire thing was written in 3rd Omni past. I might include an occasional though (with single quotes to establish it's a though), but those are rare,


Those are head-hopping in omni.

What I've learned is that many authors and editors, especially at the traditional publishers, assume a 3rd-person story is limited. So they don't recognize omni and assume it's head-hopping even when the omni is done correctly.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Switch Blayde

@Crumbly Writer

The entire thing was written in 3rd Omni past. I might include an occasional though (with single quotes to establish it's a though), but those are rare, as it generally doesn't add much to the plot.


Why would you do that? Why wouldn't you just let the omni narrator tell what the character is thinking?

Crumbly Writer

@Switch Blayde

Those are head-hopping in omni.

What I've learned is that many authors and editors, especially at the traditional publishers, assume a 3rd-person story is limited. So they don't recognize omni and assume it's head-hopping even when the omni is done correctly.

Ah, that explains what my editor was thinking. She was projecting her own POV onto my story. As for my including thoughts in 3rd Omni, I use them for clever quips the character doesn't want to speak aloud, but I use it rarely, since I know it's wrong (but sometimes I can't resist a good line, just like the useless quips in a James Bond movie).

However, my editor wasn't referring to any internal quotes (at least as far as I've gotten so far). She was complaining that I was head-hopping by describing a character's motivations in the narrative in a 3rd person omni story (unlimited).

Chris Podhola

@Crumbly Writer

However, I still insist, her version of my story was a smoother read (probably because she included so little of my story in it!).


It is a smoother read and her version IS written with a more modern style. However, her version IS missing a distinctive personality, which is still required with the more modern style. The problem is that you cannot achieve a distinctive voice by subtracting a majority from an original voice.

I highly recommend that you consider (if you insist on using her version) revising a persona back into the manuscript. As it stands, she took that away from your work when she made all of the cuts.

Crumbly Writer

Switch, I sent you a private copy of the prologue via e-mail, since you requested it. Haven't heard from you, so you may want to check your Spam folder (or glance at your emails on occasion).

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Switch Blayde

@Crumbly Writer

I replied to you that I got it. Haven't had time to read it.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@Switch Blayde

I replied to you that I got it. Haven't had time to read it.

That's fine. I just wanted to make sure you got it. Guess I need to check my own Spam folder!

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Switch Blayde

@Crumbly Writer

I sent you another email today. I was able to open the first attachment, but not the second. I think the first one was the editor's because it had biscuit and Bowie knife.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@Switch Blayde

I sent you another email today. I was able to open the first attachment, but not the second. I think the first one was the editor's because it had biscuit and Bowie knife.

I sent you new pdf versions of the files, assuming something inside my .doc files was screwing up your system.

The "biscuit" (instead of the American "cookie") was her oversight, the "Bowie knife" was mine, as it was an investment piece stored in his office--one of the original Bowie knifes used in an Indian attack, and which wasn't an effective killing weapon as a result (since the owner didn't want to sharpen it and reduce it's value by removing the blade's distinctive marks).

Replies:   Switch Blayde
Switch Blayde
Updated:

@Crumbly Writer


I sent you new pdf versions of the files,


I thought I had responded to this, but I don't see it here. I wonder if I did it in another thread.

I liked her version better. I loved her first line. As others, I didn't like some of her changes, but overall I thought it was stronger.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer

@Switch Blayde

I agree with many of her cuts. It was when she reduced multiple paragraphs to only a couple lines, stripping out entire contents (especially concerning the different characters) that I think I'll reject.

Still, it would be interesting to publish it in this 'tightened' version and see whether my sales go up or down. If simplifying my writing doesn't benefit the story (or boost sales) then it's not worth losing this much sleep over.

The case of the chauffeur (in the first chapter) illustrates the point. I gave a white dude a Jamaican accent, then had him explain why. The point was to reveal his personality, and how his boss reached out to him. She cut the majority of the encounter, leaving him a one-dimensional Jamaican (non-white) because it 'didn't advance the story'. But what it did was to lend credence to the man's advice about what his boss was like, so the readers would pay attention to it.

If you don't pay attention to your characters, then the story is much faster to read. But it's the personal details which make stories intriguing (and the entire scene takes, maybe, three typewritten, double-spaced pages).

Replies:   Ernest Bywater
Ernest Bywater
Updated:

@Crumbly Writer


If you don't pay attention to your characters, then the story is much faster to read.


CW,

I think that quote is what the issue revolves around. Today, there's a strong feeling in some publishing houses that a story is either an action based story with a lot of fast paced action or a character based story where there's little action because it focusses on the characters and their development. Most of your stuff is a strong mix of both, and I now suspect she didn't see that and was trying to shift it over to the typical action based style story.

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