Thursday, 31 March 2016

Third Person Omniscient ~ Writing

Do people analyze the POV of books prior/while reading? 

One of the first most confusing debates I came across while writing concerned POV. I'll be honest, when I sat down to write 'A Carpet of Purple Flowers', I didn't stop to question what viewpoint I wanted to use. I just wrote the story. On editing the first draft, admittedly, a few areas needed correcting for 'head-hopping', mainly the fight scenes. Initially, it was an extremely wonderful beta-reader that mentioned the Omniscient point of view in her feedback, and I rushed to research what she meant in her comment, below:

I was very, very amazed at how the author used the third person omniscient viewpoint so naturally. I can honestly say I’ve never read a book where this technique was very effective. Usually, I like to stay in one viewpoint, as a reader. But with this novel, I think it gave credit to the grand scope of the story. Bea might be the main character, but the story is about so much more than just her. It’s about Vororbla, something that intertwines all souls together in a way – so I considered it very symbolic to use the omniscient viewpoint. ~ Dominique Diane Scott 

Isn't it strange how the inner voice knows how to tell the story? I'm glad that I didn't overthink the whole POV prior to writing, I think my head would still be spinning with all the technicalities even now!

After reading and joining in conversations about POVs with other writers, it became apparent that readers may feel more distant from the characters. So, paranoid, obviously, I went back in and edited some more in the hope that they would be reachable, connectable. I really hope that I've managed to do that. I'm still learning. :o)

I can't imagine telling this story, over three books, from just one viewpoint, or in third person limited, especially being such a big tale. If the characters have a role to play, then they must get heard. I want the reader to visit their thoughts, to truly feel the perspective of that person. Of course, minor characters are kept at bay...phew! We don't need overload.

I've provided more information below from some fab posts, links included.

Further reading via ~ Very informative post

Writing in Third Person Omniscient point of view lets you do many things with your story that you wouldn't normally be able to do were you to use a Limited or even a Multiple point of view.
Third Person Omniscient lets you move freely through time and space, gives more information in a smaller amount of time, and yes, even shows what multiple people are thinking within a scene.

There are a lot of advantages to Third Person Omniscient, but if you look at fiction novels written in the 20th century, most are written in Third Person Limited. Why is that?

Part of the reason is that Third Person Omniscient is considered one of the hardest POVs to master because there are a lot of places where you can go wrong.

First, many new writers confuse Omniscient with "Head-Hopping". This often happens because a writer wants to show what many or all of the characters within a scene are thinking, and then simply writes it down as if it were Third Person Multiple instead of Omniscient POV. Which will come out as a jumbled and confusing pile of perspectives mixed together.

Second, many don't quite grasp the differences between an Objective perspective and a Subjective perspective, and how to use them to their advantage.

Third, Third Person Limited (or Multiple) can be indistinguishable at times from Third Person Omniscient, which can make things very confusing.

Then come the big drawbacks of using Third Person Omniscient: The distance between the characters and the reader that's inherent in the use of an Omniscient narrator. This is something that many writers struggle to overcome.

Head-hopping is a mistake that writers usually fall in to because they want to be able to show what each character within a scene is thinking. The Omniscient narrator can indeed do that. However, this should be done with the narrator's words, not the character's.

When writing Omniscient, a writer must be very careful not to give characters information that the narrator knows but that the character couldn't know. That's incredibly jarring to the reader and could defeat their faith in the Omniscient narrator.
In order to write a scene where we know the thoughts and actions of most—if not all—of the characters, it generally requires the Omniscient narrator have a strong voice so the narrative doesn't descend into head-hopping.

Is Third Person Omniscient Best for your Story?

So now that we've discussed the common pitfalls and how to deal with them, is Third Person Omniscient really the best POV for your story?
Take a look at your story. If it's character-driven, then Omniscient might not be the best bet. Since the story stands mostly on the shoulders of the characters and requires the reader to make a strong connection with them, Third Person Limited or First Person might be a better choice.
But if your story is plot-driven and wide in scope, then Omniscient might be an attractive option. That's because you need to get the points across quicker and can move across time and space in order to bring out just how wide the story's scope is.
Another thing to think about is your grasp on the Omniscient POV. If you aren't confident in your ability in using it, then you should get some practice first. It'd be best if you wrote a few short stories to gauge your ability.

Whatever POV you end up choosing, it must ultimately allow the reader to be able to sit down and engage with the story without getting confused or lost.

Why All the Fuss About the Omniscient POV? By K.M. Weiland

So what’s the problem with the omniscient POV? Why are so many authors confused about it? And why are so many editors delivering digital hand slaps because of it?

Omniscient POVs are tricky. I have to admit, I always wince (just a little) whenever authors tell me they’re writing in omniscient. I’ll admit this upfront: not a big fan of the technique–if only because there is so much more intimacy to be found in the tighter POVs of first-person and deep third-person. Furthermore, because omniscient is a POV that has largely fallen into disuse, it can be a harder sell to agents and editors.

However, that isn’t to say the omniscient POV can’t be wielded effectively. We definitely do still see a book here and there that uses it (usually in the literary genre). But the omniscient POV can be challenging to get right. Authors often struggle to maintain a consistent omniscient voice and figure out how the omniscient POV differs from random head-hopping (which dips in and out of multiple characters’ tight narratives without warning).

As you’re learning, this is largely because it’s a difficult concept to get our heads around in the first place!

Her Fearful Symmetry Audrey NiffeneggerThat isn’t to say editors won’t accept it (Audrey Niffenegger’s sophomore novel Her Fearful Symmetry was omniscient–and earned an advance of $5 million in a bidding war between publishing houses–largely, on the blockbuster success of her previous book, the first-person Time Traveler’s Wife).

What editors will always be looking for in an omniscient POV (or any POV, come to that) is an amazing narrative voice. That voice needs to be not just something that serves the story, but something that pops off the page and pulls readers in. That kind of voice can be more difficult to accomplish in an omniscient POV, if only because the narrator’s voice is much harder to define.

Read more HERE
Here and Here

What POV do/would you use? I would love to know your thoughts.

love and light


Sarah Owen said...

Hi Trace,

You make a lot of good points here in this post. I've found it really interesting to read. It seems I've gone for the omniscient pov too, because I know what more than 3 of my characters are thinking, but I worry that other people won't like this.
I like reading books in this pov because I like knowing what more than 1 character is doing. I like knowing what the other characters are up to when the main one isn't around.
In my story, though, I never head hop in one scene. I only go into the heads of characters other than the main character when they are separated and doing different things, if you get what I mean. When I do that, it's separated by a gap or in a new chapter.
Do you think that approach is ok?
Love & hugs,
Sarah <3 xx

Tracey-anne McCartney said...

Hiya Sarah, :o)
Yes, it's a great topic which causes quite a few debates. That's good, I'm happy you enjoyed the post. I thought of you as I wrote it. I think writing in first person could feel 'too close', almost like writing about yourself. Well, I'm guessing that's the case, I haven't tried that POV yet.

I think it helps if the story needs other characters perspectives, and benefits from doing so. I, too, like reading with different POVs. 'Game of Thrones' is a newer example of using many POVs to understand the 'bigger' story.

Sounds like you've got it right to me. As long as the character whose head you were in has left the scene, you can change POV.

Are you working on the first draft?

Love and hugs,
Trace :o)

Sarah Owen said...

Hiya, Trace, :o)
Yes, I really did enjoy it. It helped me understand more about POV. Did you really think of me? Wow! I don't know what to say! Thanks. :o)

I agree about first person. I'm not a big fan of books written that way. I haven't tried it either.

I think you're right about other perspectives. It does help with the bigger story and can make it richer I think. You get different opinions, views, feelings, etc.

Thank you so much. I was a bit worried about my writing but you've settled my mind.

Yes, I'm still on the first draft, but very near the end. Yay! I'm a bit daunted about the second though. :o)

Love and hugs,
Sarah :o) x

Tracey-anne McCartney said...

Morning Sarah, :o)
Wooooooooooooooooohooooooooooooooo! Well done! Finishing is such an accomplishment. Don't feel daunted, you know you can do it, and if the story is speaking, listen and write. Remember the first draft is never perfect, so don't worry. It's the revisions/edits that bring the real headaches. Lol.
(((( <3 )))
Trace :o) x

Sarah Owen said...

Good afternoon, Trace,

Lol! Thank you. :o)

Yes, I'll do that. Since I began, I've found the story has developed in ways I hadn't expected, so it feels like it's trying to tell itself, rather than me inventing it.
I'm bracing myself to re-read the beginning of the first draft, lol, and I know I've got a lot to do to tidy it up.

I meant to tell you, it's really odd, but I was thinking about POV and asking you about it, as a published author. Then I saw you'd written this post. They call it synchronicity don't they ~ when the universe seems to provide what you need.

Sarah (((<3)))

Tracey-anne McCartney said...

Evening Sarah, :o)
Yes, it's wonderful when the story does that, characters too.

Lol, yup, I found re-reading the paragraphs, over and over, became lines eventually numbing my mind. ;o) I asked my father, mother, daughter, and beta readers, via Goodreads, if they wanted to read - early draft. Really, really helped. I've remained friends with a few beta readers, a lovely experience. Invaluable.

Tee hee...Exactly. I do believe we meet people for a reason, cyber spirit or in person. ;o)

Super hugs,
Trace ((( <3 ))) x

Sarah Owen said...

Hi Trace,

Lol, yes, that's what I'm worried about ~ that I won't be able to tell what's relevant and what I should maybe leave out. :o)

I believe things happen for a reason too.

I feel like I'm commandeering your blog to talk about my writing here, so I was wondering, I know you're really busy, but would you mind if I emailed you at some point if there's a question or doubt I have about writing? I don't want to be a nuisance though. ;o)

Super hugs right back atcha!
Sarah xx (((<3)))

Tracey-anne McCartney said...

Morning Sarah, :o)
I wouldn't mind at all. Look forward to hearing from you.

Sarah Owen said...

Afternoon Tracey,
Thank you, my lovely. That's so kind of you. I'll get my thoughts together so I don't go off rambling and bore you to bits :oD

Sarah xoxo