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PoV: why is this omni?

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Joe Benet
(@joe-benet)
Posts: 75
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Topic starter
 

Say the story so far revolves around kids on summer break, stuck at home bored due to sequential days of rain. To help, the parents teach them to bake, which the kids enjoy. Next scene is from the pov of one of the kids.

# # #

Now that the kids enjoyed occasional access to the kitchen—the room of joys, as the family nerd called it—the three found themselves spending more time there than in front of screens. The parents allowed very limited settings, all meant to reduce conflict and stretch the little chefs’ skills.

# # #

Please critique the pov of those lines. Do they force the reader to interpret them as omni? Or is omni a strong possibility? Can the pov character not know, observe, and describe all that is written in the way it is written? If so, do readers not presume, perhaps subconsciously, that it is the pov of that character but just more distant?

Thanks for any insights.

HMx8
SHMx1 (Q2'22)

 
Posted : March 3, 2022 3:49 pm
Disgruntled Peony
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I can't speak for the rest of the piece, but in that paragraph there's no indication of whose POV it actually is. No specific character is named, but five potential viewpoints are present. That definitely pushes the distant/omni angle.

If you are in difficulties with a book, try the element of surprise: attack it at an hour when it isn't expecting it. ~ H.G. Wells
If a person offend you, and you are in doubt as to whether it was intentional or not, do not resort to extreme measures; simply watch your chance and hit him with a brick. ~ Mark Twain
R, SF, SHM, SHM, SHM, F, R, HM, SHM, R, HM, R, F, SHM, SHM, SHM, SF, SHM, 1st Place (Q2 V38)
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Posted : March 3, 2022 5:07 pm
Joe Benet
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Topic starter
 

@disgruntledpeony True (and thanks). Is it a no-no then to start the scene this way, with the pov character specified in two-to-three sentences following this, in the same first paragraph? In other words, reveal the pov character in sentence 5 or so? Or is it ok to do but poor style? Or completely acceptable?

From what I hear from writers, "distant" is ok to fade into occasionally (but of course avoid omni like the Covid, er, plague).

HMx8
SHMx1 (Q2'22)

 
Posted : March 3, 2022 7:19 pm
Ease
 Ease
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In one of his writing tips, David Farland advocated 'zooming in' on a scene. He'd describe the mountains in the background first, then the lush fields in the midground, then the bustling marketplace that surrounded our protagonist, and finally, slip into the protagonist's viewpoint to comment on something specific. 

I don't think omni is necessarily something to avoid 'like the covid', it's just that it's difficult to pull off for a whole story, and is definitely not 'in vogue' at the moment ('moment' being loosely defined as the last 15 years). I think it wise to consider it a tool. Where third-person limited is your favorite color of paint (i.e., another tool, but more generally applicable), omni can be that weirdly-shaped brush that makes little splatters come out just so. Rarely useful, but occasionally the perfect tool for the job.

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Posted : March 4, 2022 6:29 am
Disgruntled Peony
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Posted by: @joebenet

@disgruntledpeony True (and thanks). Is it a no-no then to start the scene this way, with the pov character specified in two-to-three sentences following this, in the same first paragraph? In other words, reveal the pov character in sentence 5 or so? Or is it ok to do but poor style? Or completely acceptable?

From what I hear from writers, "distant" is ok to fade into occasionally (but of course avoid omni like the Covid, er, plague).

I could see it going either way, depending on where the scene is placed in the story. I wouldn't recommend opening a first scene this way, but if the POV has already been established in a previous scene (especially if said POV remains consistent throughout), it should be fine. If there are multiple POV characters, it might get a bit trickier.

If you are in difficulties with a book, try the element of surprise: attack it at an hour when it isn't expecting it. ~ H.G. Wells
If a person offend you, and you are in doubt as to whether it was intentional or not, do not resort to extreme measures; simply watch your chance and hit him with a brick. ~ Mark Twain
R, SF, SHM, SHM, SHM, F, R, HM, SHM, R, HM, R, F, SHM, SHM, SHM, SF, SHM, 1st Place (Q2 V38)
Ticknor Tales
Twitter
4th and Starlight: e-book | paperback

 
Posted : March 4, 2022 2:43 pm
pdblake
(@pdblake)
Posts: 340
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They could both be third person or omniscient. I'm not really sure what your question is really,  if you can see there is a problem with your POV then there is. 

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Posted : March 4, 2022 3:28 pm
Martin L. Shoemaker
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I'm with the consensus: too general and too short to have a POV.

Can you start like this? Sure! Should you? Reply hazy, check back later...

Deep POV is popular right now, and this isn't deep. But it reads fine to me. One paragraph of this followed by telescoping like Ease mentions doesn't seem like a problem to me. Half a page in a short story would be fine if it's really interesting. Some novels have whole prologues like this.

So like anything, if you do it, do it well. That's easy, right?

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Martin L. Shoemaker
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Posted : March 4, 2022 4:08 pm
Joe Benet
(@joe-benet)
Posts: 75
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Topic starter
 

@pdblake

The question was "is there a problem with my pov here?" I'm reading critiques and integrating what I know with what I'm told. When those two conflict, I reach out to the gurus here for clarity.

When I wrote those lines, I did so through the eyes of my pov character (who is explicitly named in the next sentence or two). I wrote nothing that the character would not see and wrote it in a way she would speak if recounting the scene's set-up matter-of-factly. My critiquer said it was omni (was, not "could be"), and I didn't know why.

So, can't fix it when I don't know what's wrong.

HMx8
SHMx1 (Q2'22)

 
Posted : March 5, 2022 12:01 pm
Han Do
(@han)
Posts: 13
Active Member
 

Maybe I'm wrong, but the talk of the kids is one, the patents the other? Maybe say "Their parents", rather than the parents??

Of course, you lack of names suggests an entry? And you may have swapped out killer mutant aliens for kids and marines for parents? In which case there may be things lost in translation??

 
Posted : March 6, 2022 1:24 am
Joe Benet
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Posts: 75
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Topic starter
 

@han All those characters are mentioned, yes, but just referencing a character can't be the indication of a pov. If so, the pov character could never describe another character, or think about them.

I'm working on better recognizing what a reader would find a distracting head-hop or an editor find a reject-worthy shift into omni.

HMx8
SHMx1 (Q2'22)

 
Posted : March 7, 2022 9:42 am
Disgruntled Peony
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Posts: 1283
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Posted by: @joebenet

@han All those characters are mentioned, yes, but just referencing a character can't be the indication of a pov. If so, the pov character could never describe another character, or think about them.

I'm working on better recognizing what a reader would find a distracting head-hop or an editor find a reject-worthy shift into omni.

As a reader, I usually settle on the first character named in a scene being the POV character because they're my initial focal point.

If you are in difficulties with a book, try the element of surprise: attack it at an hour when it isn't expecting it. ~ H.G. Wells
If a person offend you, and you are in doubt as to whether it was intentional or not, do not resort to extreme measures; simply watch your chance and hit him with a brick. ~ Mark Twain
R, SF, SHM, SHM, SHM, F, R, HM, SHM, R, HM, R, F, SHM, SHM, SHM, SF, SHM, 1st Place (Q2 V38)
Ticknor Tales
Twitter
4th and Starlight: e-book | paperback

 
Posted : March 7, 2022 8:23 pm
storysinger reacted
Joe Benet
(@joe-benet)
Posts: 75
Bronze Star Member
Topic starter
 
Posted by: @disgruntledpeony
Posted by: @joebenet

Now that the kids enjoyed occasional access to the kitchen—the room of joys, as the family nerd called it—the three found themselves spending more time there than in front of screens. The parents allowed very limited settings, all meant to reduce conflict and stretch the little chefs’ skills.

As a reader, I usually settle on the first character named in a scene being the POV character because they're my initial focal point.

So, would you read "the kids" as that pov character, or "the family nerd", or wait for another sentence or two to get a specific kid mentioned? i.e. the very next sentences are "So, continue the slide into deep boredom in front of a screen, or spend time with siblings that drove her crazy but when sweets awaited her at the end. Kid A chose the sweets."

Is that quick enough to the pov to not throw you off as a reader? Thanks for the insights.

HMx8
SHMx1 (Q2'22)

 
Posted : March 12, 2022 9:17 am
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