Author Topic: Third-person omniscient narrative…..instructional debate  (Read 4879 times)

Offline Skip Slocum

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Third-person omniscient narrative…..instructional debate

My position in this discussion is student-debater not instructor. Please tell me everything you know on, “Third-Person Omniscient Narrative.”

The only source I have at this moment is Wikipedia.

My motivation behind this question / discussion: I am writing a story where the main character has the ability to know the thoughts of other men/women as well as the thoughts of animals, and to gleam bits of truth through dreams of past and future. A narrative of Third-Person Omniscient appears to be exactly what I need and want to tell my story.

Nevertheless, I am wondering if there are aspects of this “Tool” I am not using properly. (Not knowing what all the buttons on the remote are for).

It seems that when I employ this type of narration, I am being told, “You are –Head hopping-” or “Drifting” or “You must have a break in the scene before you can change narrative point of view.”

However, according to the definition:

Third-person omniscient point of view can change viewpoint characters instantly, by contrast with the Third-person Limited point of view, which limits narration to what can be known, seen, thought, or judged from a single character's perspective.”

Conclusion:  Am I misinformed? Are there other aspects to “Omniscient” I haven’t grasped yet?

If you state your opinion other than facts will you please include why you feel the way you do on this narrative usage.

Skip

Offline Alice, a Country Gal

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Re: Third-person omniscient narrative…..instructional debate
« Reply #1 on: May 07, 2009, 11:19:31 AM »
This is the first paragraph from "The Writer's Writing Guide:
Point of View."  The link to the site is below.

She explains this better than I could have in just a few minutes and is well worth reading.

"Point of view is the person through whose eyes the reader is seeing the story. Those eyes might belong to a character, or to a non-character narrator (a narrator who isn't in the story). In most fiction, the point of view belongs to one or more characters. In an essay, we generally have the pov (that’s the abbreviation) of a non-character narrator, who is often the author herself. Non-character narrators can also be used in omniscient third person narratives, which I'll discuss in more detail below."


http://www.rachelsimon.com/wg_pov.htm

Skip, early in the story it was clear to me that Matt was able to communicate with animals, both mammals and fowls. Not sure about fish. :)

But until this question, I was unaware that Matt was able to see/know the thoughts of humans beyond what others subconsciously 'know' due to body language, tone of voice and facial expressions.
« Last Edit: May 07, 2009, 11:24:10 AM by Country4Gal »
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Offline dynodreamer

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Re: Third-person omniscient narrative…..instructional debate
« Reply #2 on: May 07, 2009, 11:36:02 AM »
How timely!? Skip- there just happens to be an article in the May issue of The Writer -4 Myths about point of view [available at quality book stores everywhere]  ...that directly addresses the slippery issues of POV. It would seem to point out that if the transition from head to head is ramped with the right intro, and conveys a sense "I know exactly what I'm doing", to the reader ... you're good to go/ Rules not exactly being set in stone.
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Offline Skip Slocum

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Re: Third-person omniscient narrative…..instructional debate
« Reply #3 on: May 07, 2009, 12:14:21 PM »
Hey Alice I read what she said and it made great sense. I like the analogy of the baton and the proper hand off. That might be the missing element I needed to make it work better.

In the story I start out with brief telepathic connections with Matt and his grandfather, then move to conversations between him and his horse. then have him esedrop on conversations through the ears of animals and so on.
by doing it a little at a time, I'm trying to draw the reader in so they will feel this is normal and logical. also when he has visions of the past or future, the "Omniscient" narrative seems to work great in those spots. however, I suspected I didn't have a firm grasp of the proper way to use it.

Thank you dyno, I'm a little short on spending money for tech books right now but thanks for the heads up.(edit) Yes the intro appears to be the key.
Skip

P.S. ,, I snagged that link to study other stuff too  ;D
« Last Edit: May 07, 2009, 12:20:59 PM by Skip Slocum »

Offline dynodreamer

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Re: Third-person omniscient narrative…..instructional debate
« Reply #4 on: May 07, 2009, 12:40:31 PM »
No no, just read the mag while you drink in-house Starbucks coffee. [I'm with you all the way on the poverty thing.]
The difference between theory and practice is that in theory there isn’t any - Yogi Berra
[Ask a Doctor when he feels he might quit practicing Medicine and work on theory!]

Offline Skip Slocum

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Re: Third-person omniscient narrative…..instructional debate
« Reply #5 on: May 07, 2009, 12:51:48 PM »
Another good idea  ;D

Lin

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Re: Third-person omniscient narrative…..instructional debate
« Reply #6 on: May 07, 2009, 02:05:36 PM »
I am using limited 3rd person omniscient viewpoint in "First and Last Outpost"

What I have tried to do is get into the minds of two of my characters at a time.  Stick with them all the way though until perhaps you lose one of them through death.  Then I stay with my original character and her new partner by which I then move into his head.  In the meantime there are some characters whose viewpoint I move into when I need to.  Some characters I choose not to move into their head at all I let my main characters do the descriptions through dialogue or "he felt" or 'he seemed to be"

As long as you move down a double paragraph when you introduce a new character and you are in his/her head it won't cross over into the other character's viewpoints.

Remember each one cannot think what the other character is thinking.  Only the author can do that.

It seems to work well for me and it was suggested I use first person singular for my novel but somehow I just couldnt seem to feel right about it.  First person is closer to the reader than third person but for this book I found limited ovp works fine. I have quite a few characters as the book moves through its story, but I am never writing their viewpoints all at the same time. 

I wouldnt worry too much, there are plenty of published authors out there who have broken all the rules and to be quite honest I would just write your book and when its near completion get someone to read it for you and tell you what they think.  Ask a few people, general public, close and literary friends and take an average based on their comments.  Get a bunch of Beta readers and see what they say.  Not all the crits will be the same.  Take the rough with the smooth and divide it by ten!

Lin x

Offline Maimi

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Re: Third-person omniscient narrative…..instructional debate
« Reply #7 on: May 13, 2009, 11:27:42 PM »
Go Skip!

You're not alone...just got called out for head hopping the other day (rightly so).  So, I'm getting that a lot has to do with presenting the change.

Thanks dynodreamer for the heads up on the article.  It's time for a cup of the evil bean at the bookstore.
-Maimi

Offline Hypothesis

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Re: Third-person omniscient narrative…..instructional debate
« Reply #8 on: May 15, 2009, 08:19:52 PM »
When you character is head hopping, does the tone of the work shift to that person/thing? Maybe that's the issue, it doesn't feel quite enough like someone "peeking in" as it does "PoV switch." I don't know, haven't read it!  :P I'm working on a story that has the narrator as a character in the story who gets most of the information second hand, so he seems omniscient because he already knows. But when I get to parts he wasn't there fore, I have to make him delve into other people's memories of the event...and its weird, and hard.
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Offline Skip Slocum

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Re: Third-person omniscient narrative…..instructional debate
« Reply #9 on: May 15, 2009, 08:23:34 PM »
wowzers, I'm having enough trouble with mine, I can see where yours would be even more complex.

Lin

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Re: Third-person omniscient narrative…..instructional debate
« Reply #10 on: May 16, 2009, 04:24:51 AM »
Im  informed that head hopping takes away the meaning for the reader. What do you think about this?

Lin x

Offline ma100

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Re: Third-person omniscient narrative…..instructional debate
« Reply #11 on: May 16, 2009, 05:09:41 AM »
I find the head hopping the most confusing when you lose who is thinking and seeing what. If I lose touch with the character I get bored because I can't be bothered to read it again to figure it out.

Offline Skip Slocum

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Re: Third-person omniscient narrative…..instructional debate
« Reply #12 on: May 16, 2009, 08:25:59 AM »
I just found out that if you/ me/ we change point of view, at the very least there should be a break in paragraphs. I have been starting a para- in one characters pov and half way through jumping to another. I think I do it because it is usually durring quiet one-on-one conversations and I see the conversation banter too fast.

Offline ma100

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Re: Third-person omniscient narrative…..instructional debate
« Reply #13 on: May 16, 2009, 08:35:09 AM »
Probably, what we as writers see in our minds is not necessarily what we put down on paper. Because we see it so clearly we expect the reader too as well. ;D

Offline Skip Slocum

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Re: Third-person omniscient narrative…..instructional debate
« Reply #14 on: May 16, 2009, 08:38:19 AM »
exactly, and I still don't know all the rules, let alone what all the buttons on the keyboard do.  :o