Writing Excuses 7.12: Writing the Omniscient Viewpoint

Let’s talk omniscience, because we’re TOTALLY that smart. Specifically, we’re talking about the omniscient viewpoints. This is the POV from which Tolkien wrote, but we see it a lot less often these days. Has it fallen out of fashion, or does it just not work well?

Generally speaking, the omniscient viewpoint is where the narrator can see all of the action, all of the character thoughts, and is not limited to which character we’re following at any given time. We break this down a little, talking about the different types or styles of omniscient POV, discussing the strengths of each, and offering examples from Tolkien, Robert Jordan, Tom Clancy, Terry Pratchett, David Eddings, James P. Hogan, Frank Herbert and others (including some of our own stuff.)

Play

1) Stick an omniscient narrator scene in between two 3rd-person limited scenes. 2) Have two characters carry on a dialog which is out of sync with what each of them are thinking.

Acacia, by David Anthony Durham, narrated by  Dick Hill