How to Write in Third Person Omniscient

Story needs a storyteller. Story is the narrative and the storyteller is the narrator.
Story needs a storyteller. Story is the narrative and the storyteller is the narrator. | Source

Point of View

Point of View is a mental position from which things, persons, incidents etc. are viewed and observed. Point of View in Literature is the technique, which an author chooses, to present his/her story in prose or verse. How the characters, scenes, and situations appear on the screen is the Point of View in Film.

Point of View in Literature

Viewpoint of the author in first person, second person, or third person perspective is Point of View in Literature. Author presents his/her Point of View in a narrative through atmosphere, setting, characters, situations and dialogues.

Point of View in Film

Point of View in Film is the viewpoint of screenwriter, cinematographer and the director. It is normally presented through the shooting angle or camera angle. The film may be in a single person’s Point of View or multiple person Point of View (Multiple Narrative). It sets mood and tone of the film, and refers to the physical viewpoint.

Point of View is a mental position from which things, persons, incidents etc. are viewed and observed.
Point of View is a mental position from which things, persons, incidents etc. are viewed and observed. | Source

Narrative

Story needs a storyteller. Story is the narrative and the storyteller is the narrator. A story told in prose or verse is called narrative. Narrative includes characters, incidents, dialogues, setting etc. Generally, narrator is the author, or the character/s in the story. In poetry and fiction, narrative is told by the narrator, whereas in a play or film, narrative is presented on stage or captured in the camera.

Point of View in Literature

Author takes great care in presenting his/her viewpoint in literature. Since the evolution of modern novel, in the 18th century, authors have used different kinds of techniques to tell their story. Sometimes, they even use different kinds of Point of View to tell the same story. To determine narrative modes of fiction, Point of View has been classified into three categories.

First Person

Second Person

Third Person

The first person narrative uses first person pronoun to tell the story. The narrator in the story is “I” who participates in the story. The “I” character in the story may or may not be the author.

The second person narrative addresses the audience with second person pronoun. In this narrative mode, the story is told by someone who may not may not participate in the story. The second person narrative uses “you” character to tell the story.

In the third person narrative, narrator tells the story by using third person pronouns. The narrator refers to the character by he, she, they or even with their names. The narrator in the third person narrative does not participate in the story.

First person and third person are widely used narrative modes, whereas second person is rarely used Point of View.

First Person Narrative

In the first person narrative, the narrator is conspicuously the author, or the first person character the author has created to tell the story. The narrator is the participant of the story, he/she tells what is happening in his/her life, or someone close to him/her. The “I” in first person narrative is the witness of the events, or the central character.

Second Person Narrative


In the second person narrative mode, the story is told mainly as an address to the second person pronoun, i.e. “You.” “You” in the second person narrative could be the reader, author, or a character in fictional work. Second person narrative mode may appear in the few chapters or the entire book. Second person narrative mode is less frequent in fiction, and more readily used in instructional articles.


Third Person Narrative

The narrator is not evident in the third person narrative, however, tells the story through actions, thoughts and dialogues of the characters. There are two distinctions in third person narrative.

1. Third Person Omniscient

In the third person omniscient narrative mode, the narrator tells what is occurring in the foreground as well as what is happening in the background. The narrator in third person omniscient point of view, not only knows everything about the incidents and characters, but also can access the mind of all characters. The narrator freely moves to tell the stories of different characters. The narrator in third person omniscient narrative mode is a reporter and well as commentator.

2. Third Person Limited Point of View

In the third person narrative, the narrator is all knowing storyteller. However, in third person limited point of view, narrator does not know everything about all characters and incidents. The story is told in third person, but the narrator follows only one character or couple of characters. The narrator reports and comments only on the characters the narrator is following. Many modern writers use third person limited point of view to tell their story by using a techniques such as centre of consciousness and stream-of-consciousness.

The narrator is not evident in the third person narrative, however, tells the story through actions, thoughts and dialogues.
The narrator is not evident in the third person narrative, however, tells the story through actions, thoughts and dialogues. | Source

Write in third person omniscient – A checklist


  • Why you want to write in third person omniscient?
  • Do you recognize your all characters with flesh and bones?

  • Can you read the minds of your all characters?
  • Do you have control over the situations and events?
  • Can you create believable characters that differ from one another?

How to Write in Third Person Omniscient

Beginning with the 20th century, writers began to switch their narrative mode from third person omniscient to third person limited point of view. These days many writing instructors will tell you to use third person limited point of view in your narratives. However, modern writing is about breaking the rules and thinking outside the box. Here are tips on how to write in third person omniscient.

Clarity

In the third person omniscient mode, you have to be clear about your all characters’ actions and thoughts. Since you are presenting viewpoint of your all characters, you have to maintain clarity. Don’t mess one character with the other. You can switch between the characters, but remember tone and mood of the point of view have to be different.

Know your characters

The third person omniscient point of view means you know everything about the story and the characters. Since you are using third person omniscient mode, you have to create distinction between the characters. You have names for your characters, and you must use appropriate third person pronouns. You report: X hits Y in a public place. You comment, how X feels, and why Y actually hit X.

The basics of third person omniscient narrative


  1. Outline the story
  2. Set the scene or atmosphere
  3. Choose a tone or mood of the story
  4. Define the characters
  5. Each character must have a distinct voice

  6. Each character must have a motive

  7. Create conflict between the characters
  8. Mental conflict of the characters is important
  9. It is not necessary to present viewpoint of every character
  10. Be plausible with the story and the characters, even if it is a fantasy


What kind of point of view do you prefer while writing (or reading)?

  • First Person Point of View
  • Third Person Omniscient Point of View
  • Third Person Limited Point of View
See results without voting

Maintain consistency

Maintain consistency in your narrative mode as you switch between the characters. As a writer, you know what the other character is thinking, but how will X know what Y is planning to do. X does not know about Y unless Y (or Z) reveals, or in the course of time X finds out himself.

Scene breaks

Alternate your narrative with dialogues, scene descriptions, actions, and the thoughts of the character. Switch from one character to another. You can use minor character, such as a taxi driver, who may not appear again, to illuminate the event or the main characters.

Detached perception

Maintain a detached perception, don’t feel empathy or sympathy for the characters. Let the readers decide if the character is sympathetic or unsympathetic. As a writer, you would obviously put forward your perspective, but segregate the authorial voice with the narrator’s tone.

Viewpoints

When you write in third person omniscient mode, you will have control over your characters. However, do not switch to different viewpoints in the same paragraph. Remember, an omniscient narrator cannot be here, there, everywhere at the same time, even though, the narrator knows everything.

Maintain suspense

As a writer, you know what is going to happen next. However, in your third person omniscient narrative, you don’t have to reveal everything in the first place. You are following a character and suddenly he is hit by a car. You now switch to the woman driving the car, and reveal how the accident occurred. In omniscient narrative, you even have an advantage to reveal the motive of the action in the 15th chapter, which actually occurred in the 4th chapter.

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Comments 17 comments

Vinaya Ghimire profile image

Vinaya Ghimire 3 years ago from Nepal Author

Midget

Pavlo

Mhatter

Peggy

Mary

Tillsontitan

Arun

Jaye

Faith

When I write on first person POV, most of the time I get messed up with the character I have created for the purpose of storytelling and the my author personality. I prefer to write in third person limited because I kind of find fascinating to follow a character or few characters like a movie camera. By the way Second person is also quite challenging.

Thank you my dear fellow writers for sharing your opinion about POV. Regards


Faith Reaper profile image

Faith Reaper 3 years ago from southern USA

Excellent and insightful hub here. Since I write non-fiction for the most part, I write in first person. Very interesting as to the third person limited point of view.

Voted up +++ and sharing

God bless, Faith Reaper


JayeWisdom profile image

JayeWisdom 3 years ago from Deep South, USA

Vinaya...This is a very good article explaining the various POVs used in writing fiction. I find it easier to use third person limited POV most of the time in my short stories, but may tackle the first person POV soon. You did an excellent job of explaining the differences, when and how each should be used.

Voted Up++ and shared

Jaye


ARUN KANTI profile image

ARUN KANTI 3 years ago from KOLKATA

We write stories generally in the first person and third person narrative is difficult. Thank you for the useful hub.


tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 3 years ago from New York

Excellent...I had visions of Mickey Spillane and other murder mysteries and film noir passing through my head as I read this masterpiece. Great explanation of each with of course emphasis on third person omiscient. I would highly recommend this for any writer but especially one starting out!

Voted up, useful, awesome, interesting and shared.


mary615 profile image

mary615 3 years ago from Florida

As a storyteller, I write in the first person. It just seems like the natural thing for me to do. I write few fiction pieces, because I don't feel like I'm really good enough to write good stories.

I voted UP for your great examples .


Peggy W profile image

Peggy W 3 years ago from Houston, Texas

Hi Vinaya,

This is a very interesting and useful hub for language students who need or wish to learn the different writing styles. You gave good examples of each style as well. Voted up, useful and interesting. Thanks!


Mhatter99 profile image

Mhatter99 3 years ago from San Francisco

Interesting as always. Thank you for this.


Pavlo Badovskyy profile image

Pavlo Badovskyy 3 years ago from Kyiv, Ukraine

Great hub! Appreciate your scientific approach to literature terms.


midget38 profile image

midget38 3 years ago from Singapore

Hi, Vinaya, am sharing this excellent write. I usually write in the third person to maintain passivity, but may shift to the first depending on the nature of the story. Thanks for sharing!


Vinaya Ghimire profile image

Vinaya Ghimire 3 years ago from Nepal Author

DDE

Billy

Audrey

Rosemary

always exploring

unknown spy

Thank you my dear fellow writers and friends for reading and commenting. I'm glad you found this useful.

Cheers.

Have a wonderful Sunday


unknown spy profile image

unknown spy 3 years ago from Neverland - where children never grow up.

Very informative hub and useful Vinaya. thanks for sharing


always exploring profile image

always exploring 3 years ago from Southern Illinois

I clearly learned from your well defined use of the three narrative writing styles. I think i prefer the first person point of view. Thank you. Informative write...


Rosemay50 profile image

Rosemay50 3 years ago from Hawkes Bay - NewZealand

Voted up! A very useful and interesting hub Vinaya. You gave us some good examples to read too, I had a quick read of your own 3 stories.

Very well explained thank you


AudreyHowitt profile image

AudreyHowitt 3 years ago from California

Very clearly stated! Great hub!


billybuc profile image

billybuc 3 years ago from Olympia, WA

Great explanation, Vinaya! As an old teacher I give you an A+ for these descriptions.


DDE profile image

DDE 3 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

A very interesting Hub on How to Write in Third Person Omniscient, information writers must find useful and you accomplished such a well researched Hub. Voted up!

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