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Omniscient

Switch Blayde
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I found this article on omniscient POV interesting so I thought I'd share.

I don't totally agree with #3. I can see what she's saying when the character is an animal or a child, but one strength of 1st-person is the voice of the narrating character (e.g., Huck Finn). Even if the character is a 2-yo, if the story is told in past tense it doesn't have to be told with a 2-year-old's vocabulary.

But I thought the article was good so here it is:

http://ingridsundberg.com/2011/03/31/five-advantages-of-third-person-omniscient-pov/

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Perv Otaku

Above all it's a stylistic choice to be sure. Tone, etc.

I tend to write using what is mostly third person limited, with only one or two primary point-of-view characters, though even within that I've broken away to a more omniscient view for particular segments if I have the need for it.

One set of stories I'm doing, I decided to write them in first person, for no particular reason other than it felt right for it. As a consequence I've had a couple of ideas where I've realized "Oh right, this has to be first person" which has an impact on what I can do or how I can do it.

Crumbly Writer
Updated:

@Switch Blayde

Were going to focus on the omniscient POV for this post, which is when the author is "God-like" and can see everything that is happening and is no longer limited to the POV of a single character.


In relation to #3, I took exception to the above comment. 3rd person omni is Not told from the author's perspective. Instead, it's told from the narrator's POV, who knows the entire story. He doesn't have to be God, s/he just has to know everything that happened. That can either be an identified character (say speaking from some point in the future) or one the characters in the story. But, in most cases, it's not the author who's speaking.

This harkens back to one of the problems authors have with stories, in that readers assume that every character in the story is the author, and they're just talking about their own lives, rather than creating fictional elements to compose a story.

I do like point #4, though, about 3rd Omni being best used for Epic storytelling. That's the type of stories I concentrate on, so it's natural for me to write in this format. (Too bad I didn't see this article when I first started!)

Switch Blayde
Updated:

@Crumbly Writer


In relation to #3, I took exception to the above comment. 3rd person omni is Not told from the author's perspective.


I believe that came from the omni where the author, such as Jane Austen, spoke directly to the reader.

But when the omni narrator is not a character in the story, such as Death in "The Book Thief," it really is the author. Who else is telling the story?

This is the Purdue University definition: "THIRD-PERSON OMNISCIENT NARRATION: This is a common form of third-person narration in which the teller of the tale, who often appears to speak with the voice of the author himself, assumes an omniscient (all-knowing) perspective on the story being told: diving into private thoughts, narrating secret or hidden events, jumping between spaces and times. Of course, the omniscient narrator does not therefore tell the reader or viewer everything, at least not until the moment of greatest effect. In other words, the hermeneutic code is still very much in play throughout such narrations. Such a narrator will also discursively re-order the chronological events of the story."

And all godlike means is all-knowing. Knows everything that happened in the past, present, and future. It doesn't mean to be literally God.

Switch Blayde

@Crumbly Writer

That can either be an identified character (say speaking from some point in the future) or one the characters in the story. But, in most cases, it's not the author who's speaking.


I believe it's rare to have the omni narrator a character in the story. I believe that would be written in 1st-person.

In Stephen King's "The Green Mile," the story is told from the former supervisor of the Green Mile. He's a character telling a story that happened in the past. It's written in 1st-person.

Since it happened in the past, he knows a lot that he didn't know at the time. For instance, he would say something like, "I found out later after reading the report..." But he isn't an omniscient narrator that's all-knowing. He couldn't possibly know every thought every character had.

Replies:   Crumbly Writer
Crumbly Writer
Updated:

@Switch Blayde

I believe it's rare to have the omni narrator a character in the story. I believe that would be written in 1st-person..


Maybe you only have two wayside to tell a story, but believe me, there are thousands.

When I'm writing, no matter whether if it's first, twenty-third person or 3rd Omni, I always have a feel for who's telling the story, even if they're never identified. My narrator in "Stranded" was an incredibly paranoid wac-a-doodle, that had few similarities to me as the author. Instead, I put myself into a paranoid 'frame of mind' in order to write the story. When I wrote about Alex fooling around with his sister, Cate, in my "Catalyst" series, I wasn't writing about my own dark fantasies, but was addressing where the two originated from (sorry, you'll have to read at least 4 books to understand). In fact, the entire "Catalyst" was written from the POV of one character, although you don't meet her until the final epilogue.

Authors are not either their characters nor their narrators. If Ernest sets his stories in America, and uses American spelling and phrasing, does that mean that he's an American, since 3rd Omni is always told from the author's perspective? Or does he simply slip into a fictional personna in order to create a convincing story?

I refuse to be defined out of existence. I write my stories, not based on my own POV (though that has a lot to do with which stories I pick), but on the needs of the story. But then, as the article stated, I write in 3rd Omni because I'm trying to capture an 'Epic' adventure, which really doesn't work (as well) any other way.

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