Deep POV: Confessions of a Christian Writer

The ramblings of an emergent-realistic-edgy-working-for-God-and-the-pay-isn’t-that-great-sometimes-confused-christian-fiction writer (uh, that would be me).

Sunday, August 22, 2004

Omniscient POV

My crit partner, Diane Reese, is a lot smarter than I am. She's also (*sigh*) half my age. She said something recently that I thought was a real insight, maybe just for me, but I'm passing it along anyway. We were talking about the popularity of first-person point of view (POV). I am not fond of the technique because it seems so limiting to me, not to mention challenging. Seasoned writers often caution beginners not to use first-person POV and, even though I am not a beginner, I still wouldn't use it. I like third-person multiple POVs because it lets the writer view things through many different sets of eyes. I think it's fun to tell the reader something through another POV, something that POV character doesn't understand. Anyway, Diane said that she thought the reason so many people use first-person POV is because you can, in effect, write in omniscient POV. For those of you who aren't writers, omniscient POV is out of style and you are never supposed to use it. It’s narrative, pure and simple. Sitting around a campfire, telling a story. Except in 2004, we get our stories from the TV, film, or on-line; we don’t have the patience for a lengthy recital anymore. Or so they say. Lewis used it, Tolstoy, Dickens, etc., but nowadays unless you have a unique and compelling tale to tell, you are supposed to stay away from third-person omniscient POV. But in first-person, you're doing a lot of telling and it really is omniscient, isn't it? After all, you're writing from one person's POV, so he's the god of that story.

A few good examples I've read lately: Life of Pi. The Heartbreaker. My Name is Asher Lev