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Slipping into omniscient

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by Phayes, Jan 7, 2012.

  1. Phayes

    Phayes Dreamer

    OK. The novel that I've been working on is being written in what is probably the 'standard' point of view for fantasy (at least in this day-and-age), 3rd person limited. While I know the rules to both limited and omniscient, I certainly don't claim to be a master of either.

    A single sentence in my book slips from 3rd limited into the omniscient POV, and honestly, it's to an effect that I like. While I know this is MY novel and I have free reign to do with it as I please, what are 'Mythic Scribes' thoughts on this? Does this sort of an wrinkle come across as jarring to you, as a reader?

    I can give you the example if you'd like, though I don't think it would be the same without the many chapters previous, which I am not ready to show off yet! :)
  2. Xanados

    Xanados Maester

    I often slip into omniscient, naturally. I intended to write my latest short story in third limited, but ended up unintentionally writing half of it in omniscient.
  3. Yes, it does, to me. If an entire novel has been limited to the POV of one person (or a few people) then suddenly having omniscient information would throw me off and totally pull me out of the story. It can be done in a way that doesn't have this problem, it just requires a proper device: Either an in-story mechanism (magic spell, intervention by deity, spiritual vision, etc.) or a temporary switch of perspective to someone who is not necessarily omniscient, but knows what it is you want to convey in the omniscient POV.

    Actually, doing this at the very beginning or end of a story is a lot less problematic than doing it somewhere in the middle. Think about Citizen Kane, where
    at the very end we (and only we) find out what happened to Rosebud. Kane doesn't know, Thompson doesn't know, but we know. But it's only at the very end, when there's no more story to reveal. It's a final twist that gives an emotional punch. Having Rosebud destroyed in the middle of the story would be this weird thing we're carrying along with us.
    There's a saying in writing: kill your babies. Don't keep something in your story just because you really like it, if it's going to hurt the story. I've had to do this a dozen times in my NIP; there were some great lines of dialogue that, in rewrites, turned out to just not fit. Trying to contort the story to make a place for that dialogue would have been a bad idea, so instead they go to the dustbin.
  4. Phayes

    Phayes Dreamer

    Thank you, Benjamin! It probably is an excellent point to just get rid of this bit. And, since it's a relatively knew bit of writing I haven't fully fallen in love with it yet, so this maybe easier than most cuts.

    I've been really hung up on tenses lately, and I've realized that my own taste has changed with the more I learn about specific writing properties. Things that never even phased me as a reader, now come across very abrasively. Thanks again for you help!
  5. mythique890

    mythique890 Sage

    It would jar me as a writer, and I'm not sure how an editor would feel about it, but most normal readers probably wouldn't notice since they don't study or think about about POV.

    I've also heard that phrase, only it was "Kill your darlings." It's great advice but hard to follow if the something is truly your "darling!"

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