Omniscient Point of View in Fiction

Maybe by now you’ve written several hundred pages, which you think is hot stuff, and you take a break and put it away and then go back and read it and it’s awful, awful, and you can’t stand yourself and it wasn’t what you meant to write and nothing’s working and you can’t stand to listen to anything about the craft of fiction or anybody haranguing you about rules. So great! Time to start breaking them!

Don’t ever, ever be constrained by the Point of View Police. Style in fiction comes and goes, so do what you want. Take for example, the dreaded omniscient point of view, which used to mean the author knew everything and could tell the reader what she knew, so the characters were really speaking for the author. But characters always speak for the author. Who else is writing the book? If you’re in despair over your work, turn to new ways of thinking, and when it comes to point of view, it’s under your control. Readers will accept an omniscient point of view as long as they believe in the characters and are drawn into the story and stay with it, so a good way to think of point of view is as a curved continuum ranging from first person narration to second person point of view to several or multiple points of view to a collective point of view to everyone’s point of view.

Point of view should serve the story and best tell the story you want to tell. Sometimes an author wants to create intimacy, sometimes distance, sometimes complexity, sometimes simplicity, sometimes an overall knowingness. It’s not point of view that takes a reader out of the story; it’s the author. Many writers skillfully employ a single point of view or several points of view to give the impression of omniscience, and others use omniscience at certain periods to create distance or establish tone. Whatever point of view you chose, it’s not your voice. If the reader thinks he’s listening to the writer’s voice instead of the characters’ voices, he’s out. He’s now thinking about you. It’s your responsibility to control the mess.

Control point of view

Category: Art & Craft | Bookmark.

Comments are closed.