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Writing, Illustrating & Publishing => The Craft of Writing => Topic started by: hauntedsouls on May 31, 2019, 09:02 AM

Title: Omniscient POV
Post by: hauntedsouls on May 31, 2019, 09:02 AM
My completed MG novel uses Omniscient POV and I like it. I created this way on purpose because there are several distinct POVs that are essential to the novel. But, the writer who reviewed it kept criticizing me for it and says that POV is not good for young readers. What do people think?  :gaah
Title: Re: Omniscient POV
Post by: Michael Sussman on May 31, 2019, 11:35 AM
Many MG novels make good use of the omniscient POV. But when you say "several distinct POVs are essential to the novel," I'm unclear as to whether this constitutes an omniscient POV.

Check out Ellen Brock's article, THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN OMNISCIENT POV AND HEAD HOPPING:
https://ellenbrockediting.com/tag/third-person/

She writes:
"One of the biggest misconceptions about omniscient point of view is that it allows you to go into the viewpoint of any character in your story at any time. This is not true. Omniscient point of view only has one viewpoint – the viewpoint of the narrator. This narrator stays the same throughout the entire novel."

Title: Re: Omniscient POV
Post by: Vijaya on May 31, 2019, 11:41 AM
Haunted, omniscient viewpoint is difficult to do well--you have to have a wonderful storyteller voice--and I think that's why people shy away from it. I don't think kids have a problem with it. Aren't the Narnia books by CS Lewis omniscient? As well as some of Kate diCamillo's books. One of my favorite writers, Rohinton Mistry, uses omni.

If your critique partners are flagging it, might it be they are pulled out of the story? Head-hopping can do that. Perhaps you can post an excerpt in the critique section to get some feedback.
Title: Re: Omniscient POV
Post by: hauntedsouls on May 31, 2019, 01:33 PM
Oh crap, I meant multiple POV.

As they rode on, they slammed through grass, bulrushes and mud. Dirt flew in and out of their wheels. Determined legs whipped harder at their two-wheelers. Feet dug into the pedals. Knuckles burned red with heat. In moments, the steel gates of B’nai Nefesh this is an interesting name – and needs some sort of explanation either here or later --  sounds somewhat ominous flowed out of the night’s black and into view.

From the editor. This entire section is a POV switch from the POV of all the girls – also I feel distanced from Tamar – maybe get into Tamar’s mind and thoughts here and let us see this scene from her perspective and her feelings etc
Title: Re: Omniscient POV
Post by: andracill on May 31, 2019, 02:13 PM
So, for me, multi-POV needs to be clearly delineated. In other words, a regular pattern of switching between the various POVs (it's usually done chapter by chapter, and I think that's probably the easiest way). I would guess that perhaps the issue is that it's too random right now. I have read a couple of books like that (one was self-published, but the other was traditionally published, albeit with a small publisher), and the randomness definitely pulled me from the story and confused me. So I would suggest finding a way to make your pattern of switching more regular.
Title: Re: Omniscient POV
Post by: Michael Sussman on May 31, 2019, 02:14 PM
Here is a thread on multiple points of view in MG fiction:
https://www.scbwi.org/boards/index.php?topic=46204.0

My understanding is that while a single POV is preferred, multiple POVs can work if they are separated into different chapters that regularly alternate, and the points of view are distinct. Some good examples include Sharon Creech's The Wanderer,  Holly Goldberg Sloan’s Counting by 7s, R.J. Palacio’s Wonder, and Rebecca Stead’s First Light.

I'm unclear on what you meant your excerpt to demonstrate.
Title: Re: Omniscient POV
Post by: Stephanie Shaw on May 31, 2019, 04:18 PM
A fabulous new novel using  different characters' POV is FALL BACK DOWN WHEN I DIE by Joe Wilkins. Each chapter is simply titled with the narrator's name.  Granted, this is more of an adult novel but it is such a great read and gives a perfect example of what you are talking about.
Title: Re: Omniscient POV
Post by: Vijaya on May 31, 2019, 04:27 PM
Okay, I see what you mean, Haunted. I think as long as you are in one person's head and she's observing the collective action, this could work.
Title: Re: Omniscient POV
Post by: Debbie Vilardi on May 31, 2019, 06:25 PM
I think Counting by 7s is actually a good example of omni. Been a while since I read it though. I know there is no first person POV. Is it more switching close third throughout? I read it last summer, so a while ago.

I'm writing an omni book myself. So far, my critique partners aren't confused by jumps from person to person. But I hope I'm not head hopping. It is hard.

Multiple POV is fine. You just have to make sure you stay in the voice of whichever character you are with at that moment and transition with clarity. Some books even use the character name as the chapter title so readers are sure of who they're with.
Title: Re: Omniscient POV
Post by: A. S. Templeton on June 01, 2019, 09:59 AM
...multiple POVs can work if they are separated into different chapters that regularly alternate...
Alternating chapters is one way to go, yet can impose too coarse a granularity.

In His Dark Materials: The Subtle Knife, Pullman skillfully manages multiple POVs within chapters and even within scenes by sandwiching clearly (re)attributed thoughts and internal monologue with neutral action.

My current MG project features twin co-protagonists, both of whose perspectives on matters at hand are essential to full understanding of the scene. No way will I wait for a chapter or scene break just to swap POVs.
Title: Re: Omniscient POV
Post by: Michael Sussman on June 01, 2019, 10:40 AM
Alternating chapters is one way to go, yet can impose too coarse a granularity.

In His Dark Materials: The Subtle Knife, Pullman skillfully manages multiple POVs within chapters and even within scenes by sandwiching clearly (re)attributed thoughts and internal monologue with neutral action.

True enough, but I believe an author with the stature of a Philip Pullman can get away with plenty of things that a debut author generally cannot.

Title: Re: Omniscient POV
Post by: Mrs. Jones on June 01, 2019, 01:05 PM
True enough, but I believe an author with the stature of a Philip Pullman can get away with plenty of things that a debut author generally cannot.

This.
Title: Re: Omniscient POV
Post by: A. S. Templeton on June 01, 2019, 01:30 PM
...[an] author with the stature of a Philip Pullman can get away with plenty of things that a debut author generally cannot.
Ah, stature. It is true enough that established authors mostly write as they please and are usually given a pass. Problem is that this is corollary to the logical fallacy argumentum ab auctoritate, a weak basis for making one's case.

But consider another debut author at whose style many writers in this forum and elsewhere have sneered, citing poor grammar and punctuation, a high percentage of non-"said" tag verbs, and generous use of adverbs, among many other literary sins. The author was rejected by many publishers before one took a chance. Has since enjoyed some success. Now what was her name...?

Oh, yeah: Joanne Rowling. Wrote some random books concerning magic folk.
Title: Re: Omniscient POV
Post by: Michael Sussman on June 01, 2019, 02:23 PM
[/i], a weak basis forNow what was her name...?

Oh, yeah: Joanne Rowling. Wrote some random books concerning magic folk.

True enough, but how many more examples like that of  Rowling can you cite?

As for argumentum ab auctoritate, or appeal to authority, what authority was I appealing to?

I'm simply guessing that most of the writers on this board are looking to publish their work, and with rare exceptions, debut authors are not granted the same freedom by editors as top-selling authors. Believe me, I wish it were otherwise, but the publishing industry--like Hollywood--is essentially conservative and risk-averse.
Title: Re: Omniscient POV
Post by: Debbie Vilardi on June 01, 2019, 06:25 PM
I think section or scene breaks can work just as well as chapter breaks. It's really a matter of being sure it's absolutely clear and doesn't feel head hoppy.
Title: Re: Omniscient POV
Post by: Anne Marie on June 02, 2019, 06:15 AM
Andrew Clements head hops all the time and it hasn't hurt him. He's big but not Pullman-Rowling big. Some of these things depend on whose desk the manuscript lands on and what that editor thinks of it. If it's well-done, it's less of a problem. Of course, a lot of people think they're good enough to break the rules but they really aren't, leading to well-intentioned proscriptive norms that befuddle people who might actually be good enough.
Title: Re: Omniscient POV
Post by: Michael Sussman on June 02, 2019, 09:12 AM
Andrew Clements head hops all the time and it hasn't hurt him. He's big but not Pullman-Rowling big. Some of these things depend on whose desk the manuscript lands on and what that editor thinks of it. If it's well-done, it's less of a problem. Of course, a lot of people think they're good enough to break the rules but they really aren't, leading to well-intentioned proscriptive norms that befuddle people who might actually be good enough.

Nicely put.
Title: Re: Omniscient POV
Post by: Jayca on June 02, 2019, 09:23 AM
True enough, but how many more examples like that of  Rowling can you cite?

As for argumentum ab auctoritate, or appeal to authority, what authority was I appealing to?

I'm simply guessing that most of the writers on this board are looking to publish their work, and with rare exceptions, debut authors are not granted the same freedom by editors as top-selling authors. Believe me, I wish it were otherwise, but the publishing industry--like Hollywood--is essentially conservative and risk-averse.


 :yup

Andrew Clements head hops all the time and it hasn't hurt him. He's big but not Pullman-Rowling big. Some of these things depend on whose desk the manuscript lands on and what that editor thinks of it. If it's well-done, it's less of a problem. Of course, a lot of people think they're good enough to break the rules but they really aren't, leading to well-intentioned proscriptive norms that befuddle people who might actually be good enough.
:exactly
Title: Re: Omniscient POV
Post by: Pons on June 04, 2019, 12:02 PM
I know anything can and probably has been done well, but I was thinking more of the reader.  I'm not talking about the exceptional reader who consumes 800 page novels for breakfast, but all those more pedestrian readers who read, but maybe not so well. Adding multiple POVs adds another layer of complication. If at any point this reader has to stop to figure out who's speaking, you've probably lost your reader. 

I don't know what you should or shouldn't do. Just my two cents.
Title: Re: Omniscient POV
Post by: A. S. Templeton on June 04, 2019, 03:02 PM
...If at any point this reader has to stop to figure out who's speaking, you've probably lost your reader.
The point here being that dramatic focus problems (badly or over-done POV shifts, insufficiently attributed dialogue or thoughts) do tend to break reader immersion...

But then so any number of other problems: bad grammar in prose (unless it is a narrator conspicuously employing nonstandard grammar), spelling and punctuation errors, excess or insufficient paragraph breaks, local overuse, cliches, rough language, jargon, adverb overload, modifier stacking, offensive or unbelievable dialogue, over/under description, muddy scene staging, melodrama, unclear character motivations, generic (boring) verbs, tag verb selection, and on and on, none of which have anything to do with Omni POV per se.

The propriety of multi-POV narratives seems pretty much a matter of individual taste. The only "rule" is that it be done with such skill that most readers in the target demo will be borne effortlessly from start to finish.