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Abrupt switching in Omniscient

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by Julian S Bartz, Mar 12, 2014.

  1. Julian S Bartz

    Julian S Bartz Minstrel

    Hi all,

    I know that there are varying opinions about the use of Third Person Limited and Omniscient, so I don't want to get into a debate about what is better. I do have a question though out of interest.

    The trilogy I am finishing at the moment has been written primarily in omniscient, with more specific focus on one character in different sections. However in a discussion recently I realised that at times, not very often and usually in action scenes, I switch the focus temporarily and may reveal the inner thought of a character other than the one that I was focussing on in that section... Hope that makes sense :rolleyes:

    Though traditional omniscient can reveal multiple characters thoughts at will, I generally hone in on one particular character per section.

    I've never had any editor, beta reader or general reader comment on it, or mention anything to me about my point of view. So I was curious to know whether other writers do this.

    As an example, I have a section which focuses on one character and then for two paragraphs the action turns to his companion. In those two paragraphs whilst the action is centred on him, you get a few lines that would essentially be from his thoughts. It then switches back to the original character once the action is back with him.

    I've never had anyone pick it up as a point of concern and wonder if other writers do this as well.

    I can understand that if done poorly it can be jarring and a lot of people don't recommend head hopping.
  2. Queshire

    Queshire Auror

    Mmmmm... Well, I was a bit concerned when you said it happened usually in action scenes but the more I thought about it the less worried I became. In the heat of action things can happen too fast for the person actually doing the action to fully comprehend what is going on. Following someone else for a time can offer perspective that would be unavailable for following only the original guy.
    Julian S Bartz likes this.
  3. Penpilot

    Penpilot Staff Article Team

    Well, if it works for you, then don't worry. How big is your beta reader pool. If it's fairly large and nobody complains, then you're probably golden.

    If you want to check out published books written in omniscient, try Dune.

    Personally, I've only dabbled in omniscient. I prefer to write in first and third limited.
    Julian S Bartz likes this.
  4. Julian S Bartz

    Julian S Bartz Minstrel

    I tried to read Dune and ended up stopping half way through and never going back. I did notice the omniscient and thought Herbert did it really well.

    Beta reader pool is 4, but I've had lengthy discussions with over 20 people who have read my first book and it has never come up.

    It's not something I am concerned about really, I'm more curious if other people have this writing style.
  5. wordwalker

    wordwalker Auror

    Sounds like it's not much of a problem (though you may get a editor who doesn't like it).

    It might go over better if you actually did it more, so it seemed like a consistent method and not an occasional error or lapse out of convenience.

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