Point of View: Omniscient


Point of View: Omniscient

Natalie Bright

“The coffee-room had no other occupant, that forenoon, than the gentleman in brown. His breakfast-table was drawn before the fire, and as he sat, with its light shining on him, waiting for the meal, he sat so still, that he might have been sitting for his portrait.

… He wore an odd little sleek crisp flaxen wig, setting very close to his head: which wig, it is to be presumed, was made of hair, but which looked far more as though it were spun from filaments of silk or glass. His linen, though not of a fineness in accordance with his stockings, was as white as the tops of the waves that broke upon the neighboring beach, or the specks of sail that glinted in the sunlight far at sea.”
The exert above, from A Tale of Two Cities (Dickens, 1946) is an example of storytelling in an omniscient viewpoint.

I’m working on a story with alternating 3rd person and first person, but wondered if I should consider rewrites in omniscient. I need to review point of view to decide, so I’m sharing the information with you as I refresh my memory. Your suggestions and comments are always welcome.

Omniscient Defined

There is no identifiable character observing the scene above and relaying the information. Instead a narrator, who is not identified, tells the tale.

This is not to be confused with head-hopping, where the reader gets into the head of one character, to another, and then back to another. Normally, when the writer changes the viewpoint, or gets into another character’s head, there is a paragraph break or double-double space into a new scene. We’ll take a closer look at head-hopping in a future blog.

With omniscient viewpoint, the narrator conveys the scene without allowing characters to know what they shouldn’t. The narrator in the above example does not let us know the gentleman’s internal thoughts or feelings. We have no idea what he is thinking, however we might have a clue based on his actions.

Here’s another example from Dickens’ The Tale of Two Cities:

“”Good Day!” said Monsieur Defarge, looking down at the white head that bent low over the shoemaking. It was raised for a moment, and a very faint voice responded to the salutation, as if it were at a distance:

“Good day!”

“You are still hard at work, I see?”

After a long silence, the head was lifted for another moment, and the voice replied, “Yes—I am working.” This time, a pair of haggard eyes had looked at the questioner, before the face had dropped again.

The faintness of the voice was pitiable and dreadful…”
As a reader, we are never told what the shoemaker is thinking, but obviously from his actions, he is weary and maybe a little aggravated at the interruption.

Have you writing in Omniscient view point? What difficulties have you encountered?

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Scrooge


Outtakes 225

Scrooge

By Cait Collins

 

I hate admitting I don’t remember much from all the Charles Dickens works I read in high school and college. But one novel stands out – A Christmas Carol. Who could forget Tiny Tim, Bob Crochet, Marley’s Ghost; and the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Present, and Future? And then there’s our hero, Ebenezer Scrooge.

When we first meet Scrooge, he’s a mean, nasty man. He’s devoid of love and human kindness. While life handed him some hard knocks, he has no excuse for his actions. Others have problems, Tim and his family for example, yet they remain positive and hopeful. Scrooge holds his hurts closely and lashes out at society. Yet he still has choices.

The ghostly visitors open doors for the miser, but Scrooge must choose to change his ways. And when he makes the 180 degree turn, he is truly a changed man. He reaches out to others and opens his heart to those around him. Talk about character growth. Scrooge went from zero to hero. Yet for many readers, the character they remember is the cold-hearted miser. His name is an adjective. We still refer to anti-Christmas folks as Scrooge. “Bah. Humbug.” is their catch-phrase of the season. But again, Scrooge changed for the better and that is hope for all mankind. If someone as mean and hateful as Scrooge could change his life, then those of us who are reasonable and kind can absolutely become more kind and helpful.

Tiny Tim, who greatly benefitted from Ebenezer’s transformation, said it best, “God bless us everyone.”

 

The Wisdom of the Masters


POST CARDS FROM THE MUSE

The Wisdom of the Masters

By Nandy Ekle

Quotationspage.com

  1. Space is big. You just won’t believe how vastly, hugely, mind-bogglingly big it is. I mean, you may think it’s a long way down the road to the chemist’s, but that’s just peanuts to space –Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy
  1. You sort of start thinking anything’s possible if you’ve got enough nerve. –J.Rowling, Harry Potter and the Oder of the Phoenix
  1. That we see or seem is but a dream with a dream. –Edgar Allan Poe, Dream Within a Dream
  1. I like nonsense, it wakes up the brain cells. Fantasy is a necessary ingredient in living, It’s a way of looking at life through the wrong end of a telescope. Which is what I do, And that enables you to laugh at life’s realities. –Dr. Seuss
  1. There must be more to life than having everything. –Maurice Sendak
  1. Careful. We don’t want to learn from this. –Bill Watterson, Calvin and Hobbes
  1. Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as much as you please. –Mark Twain
  1. The wit makes fun of other person; the satirist makes fun of the world; the humorist makes fun of himself, but in so doing, he identifies himself with people—that is, people everywhere, not for the purpose of taking them apart, but simply revealing their true nature. –James Thurber
  1. The best time to plan a book is while you’re doing the dishes. –Agatha Christie
  1. A man who could build a church, as one may say, by squinting at a sheet of paper. –Charles Dickens

Congratulations. You have just received a post card from the muse.