Early Harlequin romances were written in 3rd person from the heroine’s pov (point of view). It was quite a while before the hero was allowed his pov. Once he was, it wasn’t uncommon for writers to “head hop.” (Go from the heroine’s thoughts to the hero’s and back.)
When I started writing romances, I was head hopping—not within a paragraph, but within a scene. It wasn’t until 1990 that a new editor (to me) suggested I stay in one pov for a scene. (She was, however, okay with head hopping in a love scene.) Her feeling was by staying in one character’s pov the reader would feel closer to that character. So, I started writing that way . . . and so have many other writers. In fact, nowadays, many writers use the close pov, which makes writing in the 3rd person almost like being in 1st person.
At the turn of the century I started writing mysteries. I chose the 1st person pov for my P.J. Benson mystery series because I wanted readers to know P.J.’s hopes and fears. I needed readers to understand what motivated her, and I also didn’t want her knowing everything that was going on around her. For A Killer Past, I needed two povs, both close, so the reader would understand the tension between Mary and Jack, why she wanted to keep her past a secret and what motivated him to dig deeper. For that book I chose to switch povs scene by scene. When I wrote Echoes of Terror, which will be released March 2017, I knew I would need multiple povs. With that book, I decided to have the switches chapter by chapter.
This summer I’ve been reformatting one of my last Silhouette romances. Heiress Seeking Perfect Husband was written for Silhouette’s short-lived Yours Truly line. The idea for that line was to have stories with more than one suitor with the heroine finally choosing one. It was a “you’ve got to kiss a lot of frogs before you find Prince Charming” concept.
I loved that idea. (Been there, done that.) So I created a story where my heroine, a young, rich, widow, starts getting love letters. I set it up so the hero, who works for her and is secretly in love with her, is coerced into writing letters for one of the “Frogs.” What I discovered was using the one pov per scene was not as effective in creating the romantic tension I wanted between my hero and heroine as switching from one character’s thoughts to the other’s within the same scene. So even though I had stopped using the “head hopping” method years before, I went back to it for that book . . . and I think it works.
The point of this blog is to say, when it comes to deciding whose pov to use and how to present it, you, the writer, must decide what works best for the story. There are no rules. What’s right is what works, so don’t be afraid to try different ways.