“Head Jumping” in Fiction

I developed much of what I know on writing from the traditional school of fiction. Recently, I began noticing that some of those tried-and-true methods aren’t necessarily being practiced today. Primarily, it was always stressed that you should limit your character perspectives to around 1 or 2 per chapter. This means you write from one character’s mind and remain there throughout the passage. Perhaps, with a definite break in the text, you can “jump” into the mind of another character, but always with clarity and regard for the reader.

I recently came across a number of contemporary fiction novels that do not follow this. In several, it was done tactfully and with consideration to the reader, for example there was a clear break of text before the author “jumped” from one character to another. I may being using that method myself as it is doesn’t throw the reading process whatsoever.

However, one thing that did bother me was another author’s carelessness with it. There was no visible separation between the “jumping.” For several pages, it was through the eyes of one character and suddenly there were two sentences from someone else, then back to the original. That killed the reading momentum for me. It was as if someone slammed on the brakes and the story came to a halt.

Don’t do that.

However, it is nice to see that the process changing as it really does open up creative freedom for the author.

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