Omniscient Point of View

Basically, omniscient point of view means that the story is told from an all-seeing God-like, omnipotent viewpoint. You would use third person pronouns in the writing, but you can choose to dip into the head of any of the characters and reveal things that have occurred in the past or will happen in the future.

omniscient point of view

This was once a very popular method of storytelling. It is less so now, especially in the North American market. Still there are some cases where this can add extra dimension to your writing when done well. Joseph Conrad was a master of omniscient viewpoint.

The trouble is that each character must have a distinctive voice so that the reader is never at a loss as to whose head he is in at the moment. This is an interesting device for an epic novel which explores a theme with several tangled subplots. It is difficult to manage because if you give away the wrong information (in other words if you tell us what we want to know) then you lose tension using this technique. But if you can control it, and give the reader the right amount of information, you can increase tension considerably.

Limited Omniscient Viewpoint

As I mentioned, true omniscient viewpoint is very rare, but limited omniscient is often useful for modern writers.

Limited omniscient basically means that while you have a God-like perspective of the story, you limit yourself to being in one character’s head at a time. It allows you to switch characters as many times as necessary, even within a scene.

Think about true omniscient POV as having a camera panning throughout the room at a party scene, dipping into anyone’s head and perhaps more than one person at a time, by taking on the collective group perspective. Then you can think about limited omniscient more like passing a camera around the room with each person filming their own POV of the story.

Also, with limited omniscient viewpoint, the head hopping is made easier on the reader by anchoring us firmly in one head;then show the transfer of POV by physical contact. So you might start the scene in Joe’s viewpoint as he speaks with Rick and Sally. When you want to switch over to Sally’s thoughts in the conversation, you might have Joe place his hand on her shoulder or direct a comment to her and use that opportunity to lead into her viewpoint.

Considerations

Omniscient point of view

True omniscient viewpoint can be difficult for your reader to follow. The limited omniscient makes it a bit easier, but even that is not an easy challenge for a beginning writer.

There was a time when our readership didn’t have a lot of other distractions like television, movies, video games, and the internet. These technological advancements have their advantages, but they have also led society to expect immediate gratification.

In order to compete with these other demands on your reader’s time, you need to offer something that these other pastimes don’t. Involvement is really what the written story offers. It is more personal and more intimate. It allows the reader to become a part of another world for awhile.

If you use a method of storytelling like omniscient POV that takes away from the intimacy, you need to provide a real benefit in some other way. So I would recommend that you begin with one of the other viewpoint choices unless your story really needs to be told this way.

omniscient point of view

Point of View in Literature
First Person Point of View
Second Person Point of View
Third Person Point of View
Perspectives in Point of View
Point of View in Literature

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