Is Omniscient Viewpoint that Bad?
I recently spotted a post on omniscient viewpoint. It was a fairly generic post on the subject, but a few of the commenters took to bashing it. They cited the usual stuff you’ve probably seen like no one uses it in genre fiction any more and that it lacks intimacy. Prudence MacLeod also addressed the same issues.
I think a lot of the rap it gets is really because many writers are rules-based. You follow X and agents won’t reject you. Just about every writing magazine, book, and blog post talks about some variation of this. But omni’s a strange creature. It doesn’t fit the standard rules.
Consider third, which is through a character’s eyes. That’s easy because you can pretend like you’re the character seeing the world.
Then there’s omni, which is the all-seeing narrator. That seems to be a really hard concept to get. The tendency is to default to what the writer knows about third person and apply it to omni. Then they run into trouble with the all-seeing narrator shifts from character to character:
“This writer broke the rules!!! He head hopped!!!”
Usually said with a lot glee had having caught a published writer out for breaking the perceived rules. Anyone daring to venture down the same pathway is greeted with a stern admonishment about the risk they are taking.
Honestly, writing a book is a risk. You spend a year writing it, and then send it out to 80 agents. Maybe an agent sends a personal comment back that it’s the worst thing he’s read, and everyone else sends form rejects. Omni is more risky than that?
And yeah, omni is harder to master. It’s easy to go too distant and push the reader away. And yeah, there are some readers who won’t like it. Like some readers don’t like present tense. Like some readers don’t like mysteries. I don’t care much for first person. Should I make sweeping condemnations of first person and tell people never to use it?
Just something to think about.