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Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Q&A: Deep point of view versus omniscient point of view

A few weeks ago, Roxo left this question in the comments section of my Head Hopping article:

Hi!
Maybe it sounds a little stupid, but my question is: why deep point of view is better than omniscient point of view? In school we don't even learn about the former.
It's not that I don't like it, I love it actually (deep point of view I mean) but I would like to know what is it that makes it better than omniscient.

Thanks !


I answered in the comments section, but then thought that other writers might also be interested in the answer:

Hi Roxo,
It's not a stupid question!

Deep point of view inserts the reader into the character's body, which often creates a more deeply emotional reading experience and consequently makes the book a bit richer emotionally. Epics told in omniscient point of view tend to be very sweeping in scope but sometimes a little shallow in terms of emotion.

Most readers don't realize that the publishing industry has moved more toward deep point of view rather than omniscient in the last several years. It's an industry trend. Most new writers wanting to break in to the industry now should probably write in deep point of view if only to increase their chances of being contracted.

Camy


When I mention how the industry has moved toward deep point of view--I promise I'm not talking out of my butt. I have spoken with numerous industry professionals--editors, agents--as well as worked personally with several publishing house editors. They all agree that deep point of view tends to be preferred in the publishing industry today when they look at manuscripts from unpublished writers.

Multipublished authors will sometimes write in omniscient point of view. However, that is because they are multipublished and have been in the publishing industry for a long time. They can pretty much write whatever they want. You will not often see debut novelists writing in omniscient point of view for an entire novel, although there are exceptions, naturally.

However, for most of the unpublished writers whom I mentor, and for whom I critique, I usually suggest they switch their manuscript to deep point of view to increase their chances of getting contracted by a traditional publishing house.

The one glaring exception to everything I've said above is literary fiction. My experience is in genre fiction, not literary fiction. So I haven't talked to any editors who specialize in literary fiction. They might say that omniscient point of view is preferred for literary fiction, but I wouldn't know.

12 comments:

  1. Thanks for the clarification, Camy. Maybe that explains my dislike of many classics. lol...

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  2. Thanks for the information, Camy. I had never heard the term deep point of view, though that's the pov I write in. Great question!

    ~Jen

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  3. I definitely love books with deep POV. Like you said, it makes for a more emotional read and helps me feel more connected to the character.

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  4. I totally agree about deep POV creating a more powerful emotional experience (usually, anyway). That's what I said at the beginning of my blog series on how to do deep POV this month!

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  5. Thanks Camy for the clarification. I understand the thing about getting published and it makes sense.
    And also emotion is more important than the action itself sometimes.
    Thanks again.
    Roxo

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  6. Thanks, guys!

    In case anyone wanted more information, I wrote an article on deep point of view.

    Camy

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  7. this is such a timely discussion. How can I find out more about literary Christian fiction?

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  8. I'm still having trouble buying this, especially when I pick up new releases and they're in omniscient. Some have been by newer authors, and some by established authors--all genre. Some have even been best-sellers. I've also run into an editor who blogged about how it was starting to come back (perhaps a backlash of the glut of books in first person).

    I can see how the viewpoint would not be appropriate for some types of genres, like Christian fiction. That would need the more personal approach. And I've also seen a lot of omniscient books that are so well-written that people would think it's in third.

    I get frustrated because all I hear is "Don't use it! You'll never get published." I received a crit where I got attacked--yes, attacked--for doing ominiscient. No one told me if it was working or not; they just told me I couldn't use it. Even when I explained all my reasons, including that I had tried it in third and first before migrating to omniscient, I was pooh-poohed as if I really didn't know what I was talking about.

    It's been fantastic for my book. But I also never previously even considered omniscient--something that feels very natural to me, more than third or first--because of articles and books like this.

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  9. excellent post! i'm with ralene...the omni POV makes it harder for me to get into the classics, i guess (with the large exception of jane austen).

    on another note...congrats on the BOTY final!

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  10. Garridon, ultimately it's YOUR book--use whatever feels right for the story. All I'm saying is what I've heard other CBA editors and agents say to me personally. These are editors who work for certain traditional publishing houses and the agents who work with those editors. None of the people I've personally talked to will suggest a writer use omniscient viewpoint. This is just my own personal experience. If yours is different, then that's great.

    Also, I am NOT saying you'll never get published if you use omniscient. I am simply stating what GENERALLY enables a new, unpublished writer to increase the odds of being published. The majority of the books that come out today from debut novelists are in deep third person, not in omniscient--this is just a statistic. There is a percentage of debut novelists who use omniscient. I am simply stating the statistic.

    Jeannie--thanks!
    Camy

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  11. I don't really care that much for omniscient myself. Love that deep pov. :-)

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  12. Jessica, to be honest, I like both. I've read lots of older Regency romances in omniscient which were simply delightful! But the more current books I read are all in deep pov and they're wonderfully emotional reads.
    Camy

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