POV - 3rd person slipping to omni??

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ElsieTanner
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POV - 3rd person slipping to omni??

Post by ElsieTanner » April 20th, 2012, 6:35 am

Hi all

Could I have your thoughts on this:

My MS is written in 3rd person close POV: the reader (er…me) sees only what the MC sees, only hears her internal thoughts.

I have a scene where the MC reads a story from the newspaper (containing an Important Revelation (!)) out loud to friends. The next line goes something like: the room was silent, as everbody contemplated what they had just heard.

Question: am I jumping to omniscient POV there? The MC doesn't know what the others are thinking though in context it’s a pretty safe assumption they're thinking about the newstory.

Part of me thinks even if I am jumping to omni it’s a tiny thing so not to sweat it but then I think I should get it right (damn it)…

What do you reckon?

Thanks in advance

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polymath
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Re: POV - 3rd person slipping to omni??

Post by polymath » April 20th, 2012, 9:40 am

"the room was silent, as everbody contemplated what they had just heard."

Isn't to me so much omniscient as a scene summary that tells rather than shows the action and it untimely opens narrative distance at a pivotal dramatic moment, which are times for building tension and anticipation through stretching elapsed narrative time while collapsing elapsed story time.

One way to show the room is silent is to describe quiet noises associated with silence: fan hums, clocks ticking, water dripping, heart beats, like metronome-type sounds. Three descriptions is ideal, especially if a tricolon *, which is a rhetorical figure that creates a metronome-like effect. Showing that everybody contemplated what they heard might describe their contemplative facial expressions and body postures and gestures.

* Tricolon: a rhetorical figure of three parallel, equal-length clauses, "Vini, vidi, vici," Julius Caesar; I came, I saw, I won, or conquered is the conventional translation, though the former is an ideal tricolon and the latter a more faithful translation. A tricolon can be longer. He broke the glass. He ate the glass. He passed the gas. Or a tricolon can be loose. The clock tick-tocked. The tap drip-dripped. The heartbeats duh-dum-duh-dummed. With the third clause longer, for dramatic effect, or shorter than the previous two equal-length clauses that signal a pending tricolon.
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Re: POV - 3rd person slipping to omni??

Post by poptart » April 20th, 2012, 2:37 pm

I think it's a fair assumption on the part of the POV character, not really a POV shift.
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Re: POV - 3rd person slipping to omni??

Post by MAP » April 20th, 2012, 3:53 pm

I don't think there is anything wrong POV-wise. But do you really need " as everbody contemplated what they had just heard." I think that is shown just fine by the room being silent. What else would they being doing besides thinking over what they had just heard?

So honestly, I'd just do with the dramatic "The room was silent." Then you don't have to worry about POV violation (which I really don't think it is but some might), and the reader can figure out why the room is silent without being told. Just my opinion. :)

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Re: POV - 3rd person slipping to omni??

Post by cheekychook » April 22nd, 2012, 2:05 pm

Technically speaking, yes, that's a pov switch---she can't truly know what everyone is thinking and this would be flagged by many editors.

You probably don't need the statement at all, as it's implied.

If you feel you do need it, simply change it to "everyone seemed to be.." or "everyone appeared to be..." (although those are both telling rather than showing).

You can also show things that would be even greater indicators that everyone is probably contemplating---dropped jaws, shocked looks, etc are all visual images that would tell the reader that the listeners had been greatly impacted by what your MC just read aloud and that they are clearly contemplating what was said.

Good catch recognizing what is a very subtle pov switch---it's hard to do that in your own writing. Well done. :)
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Re: POV - 3rd person slipping to omni??

Post by ElsieTanner » April 24th, 2012, 12:14 pm

Thanks for your comments guys/gals - really helpful.

The offending phrase is going in the bin on grounds of dullness/telling-ness/POV switch. Onwards and upwards...

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