Omniscient Point of View: Pros and Cons.
- Uses he/she/it/they. Sometimes has a Narrator that is not directly part of the story, but has a distinct personality and flair. This would be like Morgan Freeman narrating your story.
- Details: The Narrator knows everything.
- Events: The Narrator experiences everything with or through the characters.
- Usually used in, but not confined to: SciFi, Fantasy, Saga, Epic.
- Has access to and controls the most Information: You can reveal a LOT of information. The Narrator knows everything and experiences everything.
- Sideshadow (biggest advantage, biggest weakness): You can “sideshadow”. Foreshadowing is to highlight a detail or object which will be significant later on on. Sideshadowing is wandering away from details and events of the main story line to give backstory or information about another character that might not directly impact the main plot, but might frame that character’s choices. (Bob and Nancy are sitting down to a first-date dinner and Bob chews with his mouth open. He’s oblivious to this and thinks about what to bring up in conversation. Nancy goes off on a memory-tangent about how her older brother used to chew with his mouth open and he joined the army and died in the war. (this primes the audience to wonder if this will make her more sympathetic to Bob and more likely to agree to a second date, or if she has unresolved grief and do the exact opposite.))
- Difficult to do well. Going from one head to another can make it difficult for a reader to invest the necessary emotion and attention to form a connection with any of the characters. No investment in any characters leads to lack of interest in the story. (This is where the Morgan Freeman Narrator is handy. The story becomes less “I like experiencing these events through Narrator Sheriff Pat” and more “I like how this Narrator, who isn’t even in the story, or a main character in the story, is telling me about what the main characters are doing/thinking.” ie. The Hitchhikers’s Guide to the Galaxy.)
- Sideshadowing: Author starts writing for self, not story. At the expense of pacing, tension, and main plot advancement, sideshadowing becomes more of something the author finds enjoyable but actually contributes very little to the main story. (Like having prologues or a lot of backstory for every new character that gets introduced.)
- Morgan Freeman isn’t in your story. It can read as disingenuous because the Narrator doesn’t actually insist within the story.
- Comes with lots of baggage. New writers often think that they have to use this to write an epic fantasy, but that puts the focus on *events* rather than on *characters*. It can become a lot of explaining and justifying, rather than following a story arc through emotional/physical growth.
- Dealbreaker: An all-knowing Narrator that’s not in the story but has a presence and sometimes offers commentary can be a dealbreaker for some readers because the conversational tone might come off as trying-too-hard, either to be funny, or to pass on authorial judgements. Also, just as there are those readers who don’t like 1st POV because it’s *too intimate*, there are those who don’t like Omniscient because it’s *too distant*.
Up next: Tenses.
Other writing articles:
WRITERS WORKSHOP: 3rd Person Omniscient (Part 1)
WRITERS WORKSHOP: 3rd Person Point of View (3rd POV) Limited/Multi
WRITERS WORKSHOP: First Person Point of View (1st POV)
WRITERS WORKSHOP: Pantsing/Plotting
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