Two recent reads and a surprising blog on POV have made me think about perspective in novels. I’m a POV purist. I write from one character at a time, with no peeks into the future. I prefer that style as a reader too. I bond with characters when I see the world only through their eyes.
Head hopping drives me crazy. So do phrases like Mike didn’t notice the man with gun. (Are you sure? Because I thought Mike was telling this story and he seems to know about him.) Maybe I’m just cranky because I do evaluations for a lot of fiction manuscripts from novice writers who don’t understand POV. (I’m not talking about my editing clients. 🙂 )
As a writer/editor who has been immersed in the publishing industry for decades, I’ve also been led to believe that major publishers typically won’t sign a manuscript unless it adheres to first- or third-person POV. In other words, no omniscient voice (unless you’re already a bestseller).
Yet a novel I read recently, which was nominated for an Edgar, has omniscient POV and little head hopping too. The novel I’m reading now, published by St. Martin’s Minotaur, also has short little segues into other POVs and settings. For example, the author describes in detail the person on the other end of the phone, even though he has no real connection to the story. It struck me as unusual.
Then I read this blog in which an acquiring editor says there are no hard/fast POV rules. All that matters, he says, is whether the book works. Yet he also goes on to talk about keeping the POV limited and how most manuscripts suffer from POV problems. So he’s not exactly encouraging anyone to write in omniscient voice.
Yet I wonder, is there a new trend toward omniscient POV?
Readers: Which POV style do you prefer? Does head hopping bother you?
Writers: Which POV do you write in? How does your editor/publisher feel about omniscient voice?