No, I don't mean your heroine is a shameless tart. I'm talking about frequent, almost random head-hopping in fiction. After having been schooled in the highly-focused point of view promoted in modern romance fiction, I thought head-hopping was a thing of the past. Oh, no; not so!
For the past couple of months, I've been doing most my leisure reading outside our genre. I think it's healthy for a writer to expand her exposure beyond her own genre, but also--and there's no gentle way to put this--I'm bored with romance.
First, I chose a contemporary village mystery set in Quebec. I enjoyed the setting,exotic but not too much so, and the plot was sufficiently intricate to keep me guessing. However, the author made a habit of popping in and out of characters' points of view for a paragraph or two here and there. And these weren't just the major characters, either. There was a large cast of characters, and nearly every one managed to score a brief place in the sun. By the time I was half-way through the book, my head was spinning. To be fair, this was the author's first book, written a number of years ago. She's become very successful, and I need to read a more recent volume in the series to see if she's still doing it.
My most recent read was a VERY long literary novel written by a well-known and well-regarded Minnesota author that followed the life of an ordinary woman in a small town in Minnesota from the turn of the twentieth century through the nineteen fifties. To my amazement, this author did the same thing--giving a POV paragraph to whichever of the umpteen characters struck her fancy, seemingly willy-nilly. This woman has also been writing for many years and has won a number of awards.
When I first started writing twenty-seven years ago, the issue of POV was largely ignored in popular fiction and certainly in romance. Nora Roberts ignored it, so I ignored it, too. I wrote intuitively; I wrote what I read. It was only after joining RWA and my first critique group in the mid-nineties that I was introduced to the term. I will always be grateful to the leader of that group, who patiently explained and corrected my manuscript until I figured it out.
Most romance writers these days employ deep, third-person POV because it is best for conveying characters' feelings, and that's what we strive to do. Neither of the books I mentioned above focused on feelings, but that's the primary reason our readers buy our books. I know that even if I decide in the future to experiment with other genres, I'll stick to limited, deep POV. I can't imagine writing any other way.
I wonder if the successful authors I mentioned write the way they do because they've always written that way and their editors don't try to change them, or if POV isn't important in other genres the way it is in romance. What is your experience reading outside our genre? Do you think POV matters, or is it merely a stylistic technicality we get wrapped up in when we should be concentrating on the meat of a story?