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pingpong-povSomething I notice, especially in newer authors’ works, is what I call,“Ping-pong POV.” It’s the practice of switching points of view, usually between the main characters, too frequently and often without real need.

Every time you switch your POV as a writer, you are pushing the reader’s reset button. Think of it like rebooting your computer. Remember how long it takes your system after rebooting to get settled where everything is stable and ready to roll again?

Well, even a slight hesitation or redirection in writing flow can weaken or even break that connection with your reader. You force them to pause and mentally recalculate their position, like your GPS probably does after you drive out a parking garage. One paragraph you’re in Jill’s head, the next Jack’s, then Jill’s again, but before you know it, your reader is the one tumbling down the hill!

Am I saying you should always stay in one POV for an entire book? No, not at all. Different POVs can add drama and interest, when done deliberately and with care. In fact, if you’re having trouble (getting stuck) writing a particular scene, try switching to a different character’s POV and rewriting it. Sometimes it can work to your advantage. It’s a bit like putting down boards to drive a stuck truck up out of the mire.

As a general rule, I try to stay in one character’s POV for a scene. I think that helps readers maintain focus.

Secondary characters can lend unique POVs to your novel, though that approach should be used sparingly, particularly in traditional genres like formula romance. But don’t be afraid to hop into the head of your villain to better round out their character. I find that a refreshing change.

~B

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