Posted in writing inspiration, Writing tips

Whose Head Am I In?

What is head hopping ?

Whose Head Am I In? Head Hopping and other annoying habits. We’ve all done it. You know what I mean. We look for the easiest way to tell the story, whether it’s changing the punctuation to make it read better or doing an info dump using another character to share the info. BUT the worst culprit, especially for newbie authors and a few seasoned ones too, is head hopping.

What do I mean by head hopping? In one paragraph we’re in one character’s head, in another paragraph a second character’s and in a third paragraph still another character. Sometimes there’s not even a paragraph change but two conflicting points of view in one paragraph. It’s confusing and exhausting for the reader.

I recently read a book and within the first twenty pages there were a dozen points of view. Why is this a problem? Can we not tell a story in multiple points of view? While many stories are told from more than one character’s point of view or POV, there are ways to do it and still establish intimacy with the reader. One way is scene breaks or chapter breaks: establish who is talking or thinking by anchoring the reader in the beginning of the scene or chapter. Keep the reader in that character’s thoughts and reactions, think of it as seeing the story through colored glasses. If you are in character A’s POV everything is blue but if you switch to character C, then everything might look pink. I like to compare this to method acting, you get into the character’s skin and become the character, viewing the world and reacting to everything according to that person’s beliefs and backstory.

Only the most important characters should have a point of view. Remember, less is more!

First, not everyone needs a point of view. Not every character is important enough to have a “separate” voice or lens. When you give a character POV, you allow the reader to see things through their eyes. We get a glimpse into their world and for a short time, we live inside the character. Bopping around from one character to another is like playing musical chairs, you don’t know which seat feels comfortable because you’re not there long enough to get to know it.

If you have a main or dominant character, even if you allow other characters to have a POV, it is important to establish this dominant character early on. Whose eyes do you want the reader to view the story through? Who do you want us to relate to? Who has the most to lose? In my recent story, Willow’s Retreat one of the reviews mentioned that my extra POV with a third character, Rider, Willow and John’s son wasn’t necessary. I added it because in this series I have three POVs, it’s just the way I’ve done things to allow another twist in the family stories, but I also wanted to establish the importance of Rider and his role in the changes that needed to be made before all was lost. Could I have written the story with just Willow and John’s POV, yes, but I wanted that extra layer. I could have also done it from Willow’s point of view alone, giving the reader only her side of things but as it is a romance, I like to have both partners’ POVs to show more of the conflict between what they are thinking and what they are doing.

In the story I’m reading, the extra POVs are there only to establish who these other characters are or to give an info dump into the main character’s back story. How could this be done differently without using all of these other characters’ thoughts? How about have the main character view them and expound on what he knows about them, since he is their instructor. His observations, comments — even to himself, and reactions tell more about him and it teases the reader instead of deluging them with all the information at once.

Example: Sally saw Dr. Rider watching her and smiled. It’s showtime. If he was like most men, she could use his interest to help her further her career. Men were nothing but pawns to be used. At least he was handsome, not like the last professor, but she’d heard he was gay. Too bad, what a waste of a hot man. She slipped another button open on her blouse, wondering if she could change his mind. Either way, she’d find a way to use him to make her life easier.

If Dr. Rider is the POV character lets view this same incident though his eyes.

Rider studied the seating chart and came across the student’s name, Sally Jenkins. He knew that name. Her test scores were great but there was something about her attitude that bothered him. He glanced up, catching her eye. She smiled, her tongue darting out to touch her eyetooth. Touching her throat with her polished nail, an infraction he’d repeatedly told her about, she stroked her hand slowly down her chest. His eyes followed her hand to the button of her blouse. Heat burned his cheeks as she undid the button, he remembered the claim against one of the other professors and looked away. Maybe he should ask Lawton to stop by the school, but he would definitely not let himself be caught alone with the woman. Yep, this is going to be a fun class.

Both of these convey the same information. The first gives us more insight into Sally but nothing much about Rider other than he’s good looking and gay. But Sally isn’t an important character. The only thing the reader needs to know about her is Rider’s reaction to her. Rider is the main character and his POV is the only one that matters. When we shift the viewpoint to him, we get more insight into his thoughts. No, we didn’t learn he was gay or good looking, but we did learn that he was observant, cautious and smart. While the first one might be more fun to write because she is definitely a character, if she is not an important character then we don’t need her point of view.

Now, if she is the villain or antagonist in this piece, having her point of view might be just what you want to do to give the reader more insight into what she’s got planned.

Second, it is important in each scene, to choose a point of view character who has the most to lose or reveal. Every scene should tell a short story. It should have a purpose. You can have more than one person’s point of view in a scene but there needs to be a break to allow the reader to see there’s a change. Having characters with conflicting agendas whose verbal dialogue says one thing but their body’s reactions and/or internal dialogue says something else adds another layer to the story. It also allows the reader insight into the characters true thoughts and feelings, motives, etc. that the other characters may not have. It’s like watching a scary movie when you know the monster is hiding under the bed but everyone else is worried about what’s in the closet.

Point of View is a tool, and like anything else it takes time to learn to use it well. For beginning writers, I suggest keeping it simple. Choose your main character and whether you want to write their story in first person past or present, third person past, present or future tense, I have seen stories done in second person but that takes more thought than I can put my mind around so you’re on your own on that one. Most common are first person or third, past or present tense. Each have their draw backs.

Remember: first person is I, my, mine, me…third person is he/she/they, him/her/them, his/hers/theirs. If you are writing in first person present tense your character only knows what is happening to them right now (or what has happened in the past. That is usually used in flashbacks.) They don’t know anything else but what’s in front of them. Everything is immediate. Right now. This is used in many modern stories such as YA contemporary fiction, science fiction or fantasy. I have seen it used in rom-com and suspense thrillers, also.

Third person used to be the most common, but I believe they are more evenly split now. Third person allows some distance both in emotion and in immediacy. In romance, especially historical romance, many authors write in third person close, meaning, they still know what their character is thinking and feeling but like the lens of a camera they can zoom in close for emotional stuff or pan out to get a larger view.

I know some authors who write their main characters in first person and their other characters in third. That takes talent to do well and would probably make me a little crazier than I already am.

For more information about POVs, how to write them and their importance, I’ve listed some links below.

Happy Writing, y’all.

Posted in inspiration, Thoughts

The Knowledge of Good and Evil

The Burden of Knowledge whether Good or Evil

From my earliest Bible study, I remember wondering why God didn’t want man or woman to know things. Why would he care if we ate from the Tree of Knowledge? Why shouldn’t we know what God knows? As an adult I’ve learned things that were once outside of my tiny sphere of knowledge and experience. Things that I cannot NOW unknow. Not all were the horrors of people’s mistreatment of other people, though, that was devastating to learn. Some of what I had to face were my own prejudices based on my limited understanding. The hardest thing to unknow is your own failings as a human being.

Growing up in a small town I was insulated from many of the world events, and I was secure in my tiny bubble that this was what the world was like. Like a tiny child who is loved and protected, my understanding of the world was limited to what I could see, feel and hear. Over the years my tiny bubble has grown to encompass a larger world and hopefully a greater understanding. I have experienced the world through life events, the media, entertainment and relationships. Each of these contacts have brought with them a different point of view, a new set of questions and a widening of the world I’d previously known.

As a writer, I’m constantly seeking to expand my characters’ base of understanding but also create in them their own tiny bubble. Every character has to deal with a personal lie in order to experience growth and change, which brings about story. Exploring backstory, watching real people and studying psychology have allowed me better understand what a character will do and how they will react to certain circumstances. Yet even as I try to step out of the story, much of what I write is filtered through the lens my own truths, my own tiny bubble.

A somewhat bizarre conversation with my teenaged grandchildren over Easter opened my eyes to another perspective that I’d previously missed. It is amazing and frightening how much they know and understand at their young ages, more than I do in my advanced years. There have been things I’ve learned that I wish I could unknow because the knowing changes me and not always for the good. While there are somethings I’m thankful to have untangled; there are even more that the knowledge of does not bring me comfort. It has made me realize that perhaps God didn’t want us to eat from the Tree of Knowledge, not because he didn’t want us to know the things he knows but that he didn’t want us to be burdened with that knowledge.

My grandchildren impressed me with their knowledge of the world’s hurts. Their comprehension of the cause and effect trauma and abuse has on a person, is even greater than my own after years of study and life experience. It makes my heart hurt that this knowledge is part of them already, for it will color how they view the world. We cannot unknow something we’ve been exposed to. We can choose to ignore it and call it a lie but the only person we’re deceiving is ourselves. Like the characters I write about, some have seen or experienced some of the ugliness in the world, others are aware through friendships and relationships, each reacts from their sphere of knowledge, their tiny bubble of understanding. As writers, we hope to give readers a new way of experiencing the world without having to go through all of the trauma and drama themselves, open your heart and mind, READ.

Posted in event, inspiration, Thoughts, writing inspiration, Writing tips

Combating Writer’s Block

Writer’s Block

I hosted a Writer’s Block Meet Up on RWA’s virtual conference. It was a great, small meet up group that allowed us to discuss different subjects. Although the main focus was writer’s block, the discussion made me realize that there are a lot of things that can cause writer’s block.

How has Covid effected your writing? Are you in quarantine writing more or are you like me, working and feeling exhausted? My writing has suffered during the virus. I’m considered an essential worker. I manage a liquor store. People are working from home or are staying at home. But it wasn’t just the increase in sales but the worry and concern over what this virus could do to me or to my family. Working with the public, having extra responsibilities to keep us safe, fear of bringing it home, all of this made it difficult for me to write. I finished Janie’s Secrets during Covid, it was nearly a month later than I’d planned but I did finish it. Unfortunately, that put me behind on other things I wanted to write like the novella for the Heart of Carolina and The New Romance Café. Covid has just zapped me.   

What do you think is the biggest cause of writer’s block? I rarely have trouble thinking of things to write. I have trouble finding time to write. This year has been difficult with the extra stress, work and grief. I have a large family, a home, a mother who depends on me, a husband who’d like a little attention occasionally, and then there is the marketing and promoting that also takes time.

The worst time I had with writer’s block was after we lost our home to fire followed by losing my dad the next year, then Hurricane Irene destroying my mother’s home, and she falling and breaking her hip. I had a difficult time getting back into the swing of writing. Chrome Pink took several years to get written, but writing it was what helped me out of my writer’s block. One of the first things I did to help with my own writer’s block was take online classes. I also attended a local writer’s conference. I began my own writer’s group. I pushed through the block and just started writing. I wrote less than 500 words a day at that time and not every day then. Making it a habit, as often as I can a daily habit, pushing myself to write more, competing in Book in a Week and NaNoWriMo has also helped fight through the writer’s block.

Do you have any hacks to help you combat writer’s block? Normal writer’s block, i.e. fatigue, stress, lack of time, I fight in a variety of ways.


I love to dance. Sometimes a little music and movement can shake something loose in the muse.

A walk. My town is the inspiration for my series, a walk around town puts me in touch with my muse. I often take photos which I use on social media, so my walk is a two-for, or three-for as it’s also good for me.

Playing with my grandchildren, two of my grands live next door and whenever they call for grandma, I can’t say no. I mean, who could say no to two adorable little boys?


Write something different.

Try poetry. Write a poem or song, try writing it from your character’s POV.

Write an interview with your characters. Ask them the hard questions.

Write an article, blog post, advertisement, or synopsis.

Write until you have a breakthrough.


Maybe you need to read over what you’ve written and see where you’ve gone off the rails.

Rethink, replot, or rewrite until you see your way out of your schlump.

Read a craft book to help you write better.

Read and relax.

Listen: this was suggested in our discussion this morning and I cannot believe I didn’t think of it because I do this.

Audio-dramas or books: listen to your favorite performances or authors and pay attention to how they write or put words together; or listening to craft books on writing.

YouTube videos or podcasts: there are several tutorials on the craft and business of writing. They can inspire you to write better or give you new ideas.

I’d love to hear how you combat writer’s block. Share your tricks and hacks.