Welcome to my world and beyond...

A collection of snippets of the books I write and, occasionally, my life and the things that inspire my writing...

Monday, April 16, 2012

A to Z "O" is for Omniscient: POV

I could add "Opinion" to that title.

I didn't mean to write about writing, but can't step away from this one. And this isn't an instructional post, either.  I am looking for the big Os...opinions about the omniscient point of view.

When I began writing--without a single creative writing class under my belt, I was a bumbling fool when it came to POV.  Okay, I might still be a bit of a bumbling fool. :-)  But, at least now I understand it (sort of).

Good POV post here.

I have discovered that I prefer to write omniscient third. Everything I have read points to it being a good choice for what I write:  Fantasy--as if there were an all-knowing narrator telling the story.  And in stories with several plot-lines that converge at some point in the book.

But, I keep reading that it has fallen out of fashion, no one uses it anymore, and third-person limited is much preferred by the writing community.

The POV is not the confusion; the reasons why we shouldn't use it, are.   It confuses readers.  Too risky.  The story loses intimacy. It can turn into head-hopping. And it seems that editors don't like it, and the big publishers don't like it.

The reasons not to use it, don't add up.

I have asked people--people who read a lot, but are not in any way involved in the writing community.  "What do you think of third person limited versus omniscient third person?"

Nine times out of ten, the first thing I have to do is to explain what they are.  After which, I am usually told that the reader doesn't even notice.

Last week, at the zenith of my POV frustration, I walked into the lunchroom at work. There were eight people there.  They are all heavy readers.  Several consume books like they are going out of style.   This is the ultimate test, I think.  These are readers, the end users of our creation.  I posed the question to them.  The opinions were unvaried and unflinching--they preferred third person omniscient.  All of them.
This begs the question, "Who are we writing for?"

Especially in this day of indie authors and indie publishers-- when we have lost the need to court the big six by wooing them with acquiescence to their demands...why wouldn't we write for the reader?

I admit, it still gives me pause...that my work may be seen by others in the writing community, as amateurish, unprofessional, or simply not as good--if I do write in omniscient third.

Have you had any similar experience while talking with readers?  Do you write for the publisher, the agent, the editor, or the reader?


  1. I sometimes wonder, too. Never encountered this with POV, but there are other things that critiquers/agents/publishers don't like that the average reader either doesn't care about or positively prefers.

    1. So true, Botanist. I wonder, often, about the editing and the lower quality of writing--grammar and punctuation, in self-published books. Not that I ever want to see it, (and am guilty of some in my own blog ;-), but it seems that people are less worried about the nuts and blots...and they value the sense of story, above all. Errors are not a problem unless they are so glaring that they become distracting. Having said that, one must reason that a person can only be distracted up to the level of their own education--because they are unlikely to recognize errors made by someone with a higher language/writing proficiency. If that makes sense? :-) Thanks for visiting. :-)

      Are you a Botanist by profession...or a lover of botany? Hmm, maybe both? :-)

  2. Ultimately (and to risk sounding like a narcissist), I write for myself. If somebody else happens to like what I've written, regardless of POV, great.

    -Barb the French Bean

    1. That is a wonderful sentiment...and I don't see any narcissism. :-) I also think it is a healthy point of view...pun intended. The likelihood of breaking out and becoming rich through writing...are so miniscule. With that thought in mind, I think that a person had best please himself, or at the very least, thoroughly enjoy writing--for it to make any sense at all. :-)

      Thank you for visiting!

  3. I write for me...and what makes sense for the material. My genre is Mystery/Thriller, which is perfect for 3rd person limited. I would prefer to write in 1st person because its more intimate, but it doesn't work for my genre. I've not read to much Omni...but I don't recall it being a bother. Do what feels right for you and your book!

    1. Wonderful comment. I hope that we all write for ourselves, DL. :-) I think any pursuit done for the pure joy of the doing--shines through in the end product :-) Thank you for visiting! :-)

  4. I like a mix of everything, and different stories, surely, need different POV.
    I write for the reader, but I write what I want to tell them, so, ultimately, I'm writing for me. I like that there is healthy exploration, but fads and fashions? I prefer common sense- there must be a variety!

    1. "I prefer common sense- there must be a variety!" So nicely put, Lily! :-)