Here’s the seventh episode of the Writing Talk Podcast.

In this episode of The Writing Talk Podcast, I’m talking about the ways that beta readers can help, and ask whether head hopping is okay in your writing.

For those who aren’t familiar with the term “beta reader” – and welcome by the way – a beta reader is someone who reads an early version of your work. This is typically before you employ an editor. “Head hopping” is the name often given to writing that shares the thoughts and internal feelings of more than one character in a single scene.

I hope you enjoy listening.

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Show Notes

When should you share your work? This is a personal decision. Build a relationship of trust with your beta readers.

Why would you use a beta reader? Very valuable big picture feedback and catching early errors.

Who makes a good beta reader? Fellow writers, avid readers, people who enjoy your genre.

What should you ask your beta readers?

  1. anything awesome – to make sure I don’t go and cut out your favourite part
  2. any parts you found boring
  3. any sections that are too confusing to follow
  4. any parts you just didn’t believe.

What NOT to tell them. Don’t prime them or you’ll spoil their experience and prejudice their judgement.

Show your appreciation. Flowers are nice!

What on earth is head hopping? Is it a bizarre drug induced ritual?

Head hopping is describing internal thoughts and sensations from multiple characters in one scene.

e.g.

Kilgore can’t help but smile; the two men shake hands as if they’re at a dinner party rather than hunched in the rubble behind a rapidly disintegrating SUV with bullets and RPGs raining down on every side.

“So, what’s your plan?” Kilgore says. “Don’t tell me you’ve got a bunch of mines laid out again – unless…” He lets his voice trail away. I wouldn’t put it past him, he thinks.

But Will just grins, enjoying the look on his new friend’s face. Like a kid waiting for Christmas. “Not mines,” he says. “But I do have something up my sleeve.”

From the last chunk – cut “enjoying the look on his new friend’s face. Like a kid waiting for Christmas

so the text becomes: But Will just grins. “Not mines,” he says. “But I do have something up my sleeve.”

Head hopping can work and common in some genres. Can drop the reader out of the moment. Stick to one character in the spotlight in a scene – scenes can be very short. Leave a blank line to signal a new scene.

Let’s not bamboozle ourselves but omniscient narrator is different. Most common povs are third person and first person and the pov is limited to what the main character can reasonably know and sense.

Choose your pov, establish it very early and stick to it (unless you’re switching for effect, in which case handle with care).

Reading of The Week – Trespass

Get Trespass free on my author website: mikeycampling.com/giveaway

My current read – Neverwhere

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Links to Writing Resources:

Great podcast where I got my four prompts for beta readers (sorry I forgot to credit this source in the show): Writing Excuses Podcast

Article on head hopping from Randy Ingermanson: Advanced Fiction Writing