Point of view shifts: the bane of the new writers existence. I’m not proud to admit it, but in the first draft of my first book (Mere Temptation) I switched POV every few paragraphs. Yes, it was that bad. My first critique partner put me over her knee about the issue (figuratively, of course.) I’m forever grateful to her for schooling me about the need to maintain a single point of view for at least a page, preferably two.
I still struggle with what I like to call “swinging camera syndrome,” the desire to switch the focus of the story to a close up of one character, than another, until the reader’s head spins. I never switch point of view mid-scene anymore. However, I seldom write a scene longer than 1200 words. So essentially, I can hold a point of view for approximately 5 pages before swinging the camera to a new position.
What I find helps me stick to one perception is to set a minimum word count. I know some writers feel that a scene should be “as long as it needs to be,” but I think that’s dumb. Or maybe I just can’t write that way. Either way, I set myself a bare minimum single POV word count of 250 for either a minor character’s POV or something like a prologue or epilogue, that’s supposed to be short. For subplot stars (not the MCs, but still important) my minimum word count is 500. For main characters, it’s 1000.
The longer I write, the less I find I need to actually impose these rules. I tend to hold a point of view for longer and longer without even meaning to. However, I doubt I’ll ever be an author who can write an entire 20 page chapter in one point of view.
What about you? Do you have to fight the urge to head-hop? How often do you switch point of view? And what tricks have you developed to keep you on track?