Hey guys! Hope I’m not making you spit out your morning (afternoon?) coffee with this impromptu post.
It’s a funny thing that I’m a writer, yet I don’t often share my thoughts on the craft here. After being approached about sharing my thoughts here as well as on my radio segment, The Writing Corner, I figured what’s the worst that could happen? Don’t answer that. lol
I’ll probably do this as a lead in the day before my radio segment (every third week). I may discuss the same topic or something different depending on if I feel I need to further elaborate. No promises yet, but we’ll see how it goes.
Now, what am I planning to ramble on about today… All right, I won’t keep you in suspense.
Today’s topic is one that’s been brought up a couple of times the last couple of weeks. Writing third person point of view.
This is something I’ve discussed several times before, mainly due to my style not being “popular”. As many of you may be aware, I mostly write in Third Person Omniscient.
Third Person Omniscient is when you narrate as though you’re a god and can see into the character’s minds. There’s not limitation or boundary aside from what you want to share with the readers.
The most common complaints/arguments against using this style are, “It’s confusing” and my personal favorite, “You’re head hopping”.
It’s often considered confusing because many don’t recognize the signal that the POV is shifting. And sorry if you’ve used the head hopping argument, but head hopping is only when you have multiple points of view in the same paragraph, not in the same scene or chapter. That’s it, plain and simple.
While it’s difficult to write at times, the basic method of switching POV is by having a character do something with their head. Anything like nodding, shaking, smiling, scratching their nose, or even the wind blowing their hair can be a signal that the switch is coming. Even starting with a character’s name can be used as a signal.
In truth, the main reason it’s confusing is due to the prevalent use of Third Person Limited or Third Person Multiple Selective. In this style, each POV is separated by a scene break or a new chapter. Often the chapter titles are the character’s name. A perfect example of this is the Game of Thrones books. It’s also used by JK Rowling in her Harry Potter series except that it’s all told through Harry’s point of view.
In this style, the reader only sees and knows what the character does. It’s a simple way of avoiding confusion by telling the reader who the POV belongs to and can allow the writer to delve deeper into their character.
There is an active debate that the Harry Potter series utilizes both Third Person Limited and Omniscient, but I haven’t read the books since the last one came out so I can’t verify or deny it. These two styles do seem combined by those looking to criticize or not understanding the Omniscient style due to the occasional chapter that focuses on a single character. Just because that happens doesn’t mean the author switches POV.
In all honesty, while there is a healthy debate over this topic and Third Person Omniscient isn’t popular at the moment, that doesn’t mean it’s wrong. It’s up to each of us to remain open to different information and thoughts, but to also stay true to ourselves and do what we feel does our stories justice.
What’s your opinion? I’d love to hear what your thoughts are on this. Feel free to send me any topics you’d love to be discussed in the future. See you all next time.