Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Four Viewpoints (Part 15 of 17)

Recently a few authors have tried and gotten away with the totally omniscient POV. For emerging writers, we suggest avoiding this POV because:

1. Switching POV within a scene jars careful readers. It shatters reality because none of us is omniscient.

2. Such pauses in the narrative flow tend to tell readers what they need to show them.

3. The POV continually shifts. The writing tends to become more impersonal because readers don't identify with it and focus primarily on one character.

4. Readers aren't always sure who is the major character. Recently I read A Grain of Wheat, written in 1967, which is considered a modern African classic by Ngui wa Thionog'o. The back of the book reads, "Set in 1963, A Grain of Wheat tells the story of Kenya on the verge of . . . independence. The novel focuses on Mugo. . . "

Mugo? I liked the novel immensely, but another character, Gikonyo, seemed as much the focus of the book until I read the last 30 pages. I also liked Gikonyo much better than Mugo. I could argue that the author would have been wiser to go with shifting third-person limited POVs, but it was his choice.

4. The omniscient is difficult to pull off and keep readers with you. When well written, readers can enjoy all perspectives, but it's risky.

Avoid the omniscient POV unless there's a compelling reason
and you're positive you can do it well.

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