[Ads-l] Phrase: head hopping (used to describe a rapidly changing mental point of view in fiction)

ADSGarson O'Toole adsgarsonotoole at GMAIL.COM
Tue Oct 29 19:10:38 UTC 2019

During a lecture on flash fiction I attended recently the speaker
referred to "head hopping". Here is a 2014 explanation of the term:

Article: The Official Rules on Head-Hopping
Author: Randy Ingermanson (America's Mad Professor of Fiction Writing)
Date Specified on Website: April 30, 2014

[Begin excerpt]
Randy sez:  Let’s define terms. “Head-hopping” is the practice of
switching point-of-view characters within a single scene. This is not
the same as the omniscient point-of-view, which would allow your
narrator to know things that none of the characters know.

If you want to start a war among fiction writers, a golden way to do
it is to tell everyone that they can’t hop heads. Or tell them that
they can.
[End excerpt]

I did not see "head hopping" in the OED, but I found that the term was
employed by a writing instructor all the way back in 1961.

Year: 1961 Copyright
Book Title: Story Craft: A creative writing manual for all who would
write and sell for publication
Author: Norma Youngberg
Volume: 1
Publisher: Winfield-Harmon Agency, San Jose, California
Quote Page 43 and 49
Database: HathiTrust Full View

[Begin excerpt on page 43]
Here we have that freest of all viewpoints, the OMNISCIENT. Many a
beginning writer, who has only the faintest idea about technique, has
told me, "I always write in the omniscient viewpoint."

Upon examination, the writer's work proved to be anything but
omniscient viewpoint. It is often an indiscriminate mixture of
objective and subjective, a head-hopping procedure with a resultant
muddled manuscript totally confusing to the reader.
[End excerpt]

[Begin excerpt on page 49]
Much confusion can be avoided by choosing a suitable viewpoint and
staying with it throughout the story. Any head-hopping can be
[End excerpt]


The American Dialect Society - http://www.americandialect.org

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