1. Alex R. Encomienda

    Alex R. Encomienda Contributor Contributor

    Jan 12, 2016
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    Third person omniscient

    Discussion in 'Word Mechanics' started by Alex R. Encomienda, Nov 11, 2016.

    I was reading through my WIP today and caught on to something I hadn't noticed before. My whole story is in third person omniscient which doesn't really bother me much because there aren't many books like that these days and I think it'll be refreshing. However, I learned also that I have to be very very careful about pov now. I was just wondering, what is your take on third person omniscient? Could it mean bad writing altogether? Share your thoughts!
  2. Wreybies

    Wreybies Thrice Retired Supporter Contributor

    May 1, 2008
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    El Tembloroso Caribe
    I'm re-reading The Jesus Incident at the moment. It's 3PO and the POV jumps from one paragraph to the next, internal thoughts of characters are sometimes hard to track to whom they belong because we were just given someone else's internal thoughts two lines ago, etc. I've got my sea legs under me at this point in the book, but it was genuinely annoying at first.
  3. Tenderiser

    Tenderiser Not a man or BayView

    Aug 12, 2015
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    London, UK
    It's not a POV I enjoy. On the rare occasion I have rated books in this POV, it's always been in spite of it - I felt they could have been even better in limited. There's a reason it's gone out of fashion.

    But it doesn't automatically mean bad writing. I do think head hopping is bad writing (Steerpike will be along in a minute to mention Virginia Woolf, I'm sure :D) and I do think using this POV is a choice that needs a lot of justification for the positives to outweigh the negatives.
  4. BayView

    BayView Huh. Interesting. Contributor

    Sep 6, 2014
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    Some of my favourite books are in omniscient--when done well, I think it can be really, really effective.

    But I think it's harder to do well. I've got a project in mind that would probably be best in omniscient and I'm still working up the courage to give it a try. I don't think I've got a firm enough grip on things, yet, but then I think that the more books I write in first or close third, the deeper those habits will be ingrained and I might actually be moving further away from being able to write omniscient... I don't know. I think I might try omniscient with a really clear narrator and lots of voice and characterizating for that narrative "character" rather than the smoother kind with a less obtrusive narrator... maybe.
  5. xanadu

    xanadu Contributor Contributor

    Oct 21, 2008
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    Cave of Ice
    I'm not a fan, but of course I don't discount that it can and has been done well. I don't write in it because I personally love coloring the narrative with my POV character's thoughts and biases, whereas an omniscient narrator just doesn't give me the same warm and fuzzy.

    I will say, however, that doing it well is definitely tricky and requires a lot of attention to detail. POV breaks aren't forgiven just because it's omniscient--it still needs to make sense and read deliberately. Just because the narrator knows all doesn't mean the characters do, and it can be easy to slip up on that throughout.

    It certainly doesn't mean bad writing altogether, but as @Tenderiser said, there's a reason it's gone out of fashion. Of course, you can always write it and put it up for critique to see if you're pulling it off well or not.
    Alex R. Encomienda likes this.
  6. Ebenezer Lux

    Ebenezer Lux Member

    Oct 31, 2016
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    It's enjoyable so long as the omniscient narrator is interesting in their own way. Of course voice is crucial.
    xanadu likes this.

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