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Is it a cliche to write fantasy in third person omniscient

  1. Yes

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  2. No

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  1. OB1

    OB1 Active Member

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    Fantasy:- Third person Omniscient

    Discussion in 'Fantasy' started by OB1, Jan 11, 2018.

    I am writing my first fantasy novel, and I am finding myself writing in 3rd person Omni, I have heard that this is massive fantasy cliché, is this correct?

    Thanks
     
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  2. X Equestris

    X Equestris Contributor Contributor

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    I'm not sure I'd class any POV as "cliche". In all honesty, close third person seems to be the current trend in fantasy right now.
     
  3. TWErvin2

    TWErvin2 Contributor Contributor

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    I've read a lot of fantasy that is first person POV. Current authors are Kevin Hearne and Steven Brust.
     
  4. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    I don't think that 'cliche' would be the right word. Omniscient is fairly old-fashioned, but you could flip that and call it 'classic'. I think that doing it well is likely to be difficult, however.
     
  5. jannert

    jannert Member Supporter Contributor

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    I wouldn't worry about a cliché in the context of which 'person' you choose to convey your story. Just make the story itself unique and exciting and rich and full of surprises, and nobody is going to even notice what kind of 'person' you've chosen to write it in. There aren't that many different kinds of writing 'persons' anyway, so just use the one that seems most natural for the story.
     
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  6. Night Herald

    Night Herald They're real Dickens.

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    I bloody well hope not, because I've fallen in love with it of late, and I'm currently writing a Fantasy novel in this mode.

    I don't think it is, however. As was mentioned above, most modern Fantasy I've read had been in close, limited third, and omniscient is sort of old-fashioned in this day and age. I can't see any good reason to shy away from it, except perhaps that it doesn't sell quite as well -- which in my book is no reason at all, at least for the current project, but to each his own.
     
  7. OB1

    OB1 Active Member

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    I don't understand why it won't sell as much? Correct me if I am wrong but for epic fantasy I can't see how you can write it in other than third person Omni! Because how can one person have a POV over the whole world that the story is based on? Especially if there are multiple threads in the story.
     
  8. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    Instead of omniscient, you can have third person limited with a changing POV character. I believe that's what, for example, Game of Thrones uses, though I'd have to look to be sure that the view doesn't pull out to omniscient at times.

    (Edited to add: As a side note, fantasy doesn't necessarily range over a broad landscape.)
     
  9. Night Herald

    Night Herald They're real Dickens.

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    I think you're confused as to what omniscient third really means. I'm a bit fuzzy on the subject myself, but: If each of your characters have their own POV chapters, then it will still be limited third. An omniscient narrator, on the other hand, means mainly that the POV can jump freely within scenes, "head-hopping" if you will. It also allows you a bit more leeway with narrative distance and voice, which is the main reason I like it so much.

    ETA: If what you're talking about is actually limited third with chapter switches, then yes, that has been quite prevalent in latter times, but I would in no way call it a cliché. I think it's a fine way to structure a story, and I generally prefer it to just a single POV (as a reader, that is). This, at least, probably won't hurt sales one bit.
     
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2018
  10. OB1

    OB1 Active Member

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    Maybe I am getting a bit confused, I admit I don't fully understand the concepts of POV. I write what I think. For example in my book I refer to something like this;

    Roarke felt a disturbing emptiness in his stomach, as all hope drained from his body.

    Is this 3rdPO?
     
  11. Night Herald

    Night Herald They're real Dickens.

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    I can't possibly tell from just that one sentence. Here's an example of what omniscient might look like:

    Charles was furious. His heart beat double-time, his fists were clenched and sweaty. It took every ounce of restraint he possessed not to smash Amanda's ugly lamp against the wall. It had been a gift from her crazy aunt. How dare she?

    "I want you out of here," he said. "Gone, and for good this time."

    Amanda was stunned. She knew she deserved something, but not this, not this anger, not to be thrown out of her own home in the middle of the night. Who the hell did Charles think he was, anyway? He had no right to speak to her like that.

    "Make me," she said, and crossed her arms.

    Charles slammed the door, and went out on the balcony, his hands shaking as he lit the cigarette. He hadn't meant to say all that, at least he didn't think he did. He just didn't know anymore.

    Amanda sat down by the telephone in the kitchen, and dialed the number she knew better than her own name.

    "Hello, auntie? Can I stay with you for a couple of days? Yes, he's throwing another tantrum."


    You see how the perspective changes practically between sentences, and that we're able to follow Charles on the balcony and Amanda in the kitchen? In limited, we can only see the outward reaction of people other than the POV, but here we're able to see their thoughts. That's an example of Omniscient, that head-hopping within a scene. I think it still counts as third limited if you change perspective within a chapter, just so long as there is a scene transition, but I'm not entirely sure. Hope this clarifies things :)
     
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  12. OB1

    OB1 Active Member

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    I am pretty sure I am writing in 3rd Omni then. Perhaps my literary abilities do not allow me to write in a more personal POV. I will post a paragraph later this evening, I'd appreciate it if someone would take the time to see how I could change it to limited. Or is that uber cheeky of me?

    Thanks for your help
     
  13. Night Herald

    Night Herald They're real Dickens.

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    Cheeky? I wouldn't say so, but I'm not sure if that sort of thing is supposed to happen outside of the Workshop section, which I don't think you have the clearance to use just yet. Somebody else can probably clarify that better.

    But feel free to send me a snippet in a PM, and I'll happily look it over.

    ETA: Another cool feature of Omniscient is that your narrator can just zoom around and look at things on the others side of the world, even if there is no character present as witness.
     
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  14. OB1

    OB1 Active Member

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    @Night Herald

    Thank you very much for the offer, might take you up on it! :D
     
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  15. Night Herald

    Night Herald They're real Dickens.

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    @OB1 Sure thing, just hit me up whenever :)
     
  16. BayView

    BayView Contributor Contributor

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    Sometimes there are different interpretations of terminology... I would classify the example @Night Herald gave as head-hopping, rather than omniscient.

    Omniscient, as I understand it, has a distinct narrative voice that does not belong to any character. It's the narrator's voice. (This means omniscient often feels a bit remote, although there are certainly some authors who are able to overcome this.)

    Third limited uses the voice of the POV character.

    Head hopping is switching between one third-limited POV within the same scene.

    So when I read "How dare she" that feels like Charles' voice (and therefore Charles' POV) and when I read "Who the hell did Charles think he was anyway?" it feels like Amanda's voice and POV. Which indicates to me that this is head hopping.

    If this scene were written in omniscient, we wouldn't go so far into either character that the language actually changes to their voice. Something like:

    Charles was furious. His heart beat double-time and his fists were clenched and sweaty. It took every ounce of restraint he possessed not to smash Amanda's lamp against the wall. It had been a gift from her aunt, the one they both agreed was crazy. But Amanda loved the lamp anyway, and smashing it would hurt her. Charles wanted to hurt her.

    "I want you out of here," he said. "Gone, and for good this time."

    Amanda was stunned. She knew she deserved something, but not this, not this anger, not to be thrown out of her own home in the middle of the night. And behind the surprise, her outrage grew. She had never been treated this way in her life.​

    Or whatever. I think the best omniscient has a really distinctive, intriguing voice for the narrative, which the above passage certainly doesn't. But the point is that, by my understanding, the difference between omniscient and third limited with head hopping is a question of voice. The voice shouldn't change in omniscient.
     
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  17. Night Herald

    Night Herald They're real Dickens.

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    @BayView it's very possible that I'm somewhat misinformed. I felt quite certain that third limited precluded any sort of head-hopping, but I could be wrong. I was also under the impression that omniscient afforded a deal of elasticity re: narrative distance. I perfectly agree about the distinct narrative voice, which I see I misrepresented. I'll have to educate myself on the subject, now that I've taken to working in omniscient.
     
  18. Homer Potvin

    Homer Potvin There's no basement in the Alamo. Contributor

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    Me too. It's a massive can of worms, but an omniscient (literally "all-seeing") POV is a godlike narrator that is almost a character Herself. 19th century writers like Dickens and Tolstoy (Austen too, from what I've heard, but never read) were rife with this. There is a narrator sitting in the sky as she offers commentary on the activities of the characters below her. It's almost like grandpa popping you on his lap to tell you a story. Tolstoy would break a narrative for twenty pages at a time and address the reader directly... almost like he's answering questions that haven't been asked. Like if you interrupted grandpa to ask him why so and so did such and such and he stopped the story to explain it to you.

    Yet, on the other hand, Dune is the epitome example of omniscience that writers and critics use first, given the series popularity in sci-fi/fantasy circles. And while Herbert head-hops like a mofo (four or five times a paragraph, all day, every day, including interior monologue and thought quotes from one character inserted inside the dialogue of another), there isn't that distinct narrator character asserting his voice over all the place.

    It's tough to pin down exactly. Can of worms.
     
  19. ChickenFreak

    ChickenFreak Contributor Contributor

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    Children's books, especially older ones, tend to have an omniscient POV with opinions and occasionally preaching. One example is Five Little Peppers and How They Grew. It's available on Project Gutenberg for free reading.

    Within two or three pages, all in the same chapter, we have Phronsie's head:

    Phronsie still stood just where Polly left her. Two hundred candles! oh! what could it mean! She gazed up to...

    And Polly's:

    “And then,” said Polly, with a comfortable little feeling at her heart at Ben’s praise...

    And Ben's:

    And Ben stopped, unwilling to dampen this propitious beginning.

    and we have group perceptions:

    “I don’t want any other celebration,” said Mrs. Pepper, beaming on them so that a little flash of sunshine seemed to hop right down on the table....

    I did a little ambling to see if there was any actual narrator opinionating/preaching and didn't immediately find any.
     
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  20. jannert

    jannert Member Supporter Contributor

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    Oh, my lord ...The Five Little Peppers. Holy shit, that takes me back!
     

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