Monday, 23 May 2016

Want to use omniscient pov? #writetip

Geoff from Barnsley says: I want to write my novel using omniscient point of view, but the friends who have read a few chapters say they can’t follow what’s going on. I want all the characters’ emotions and thoughts to come to the fore, so that my readers know what everyone is feeling. Can you help me to write using this technique? I really don’t want to use limited point of view.

First and foremost, you have to give due to consideration to why you want to use omniscient point of view. Only by knowing why can you decide how and when to use it.

The structure in a novel using this technique is vitally important – even more so than when using third or first person point of view. This is because it is so easy to confuse and/or alienate the reader. You have to know when and where to use it and what effect you are aiming to achieve.

If you have information to impart that is vital to a scene, you need to open that scene in omniscient, so that readers know immediately they are being narrated to by someone who is not one of the characters in the book. If the omniscient narrator is a character, readers need to know that too, so that they can accept this voice intruding from time to time, or filling them in on details the other characters don’t know.

Don’t open with a character’s actions or dialogue, because readers will believe they are in that person’s perspective, which is then thrown off balance when an absent narrator, or one of the other characters, lets us in on their thoughts and feelings within the same scene.

If you want to use omniscient so that you can tell the reader about a period in time and its history, or a new world and future technology, it is fine to use an absent narrator, but you have to use it in the right way. You cannot drop an omniscient voice into the middle of a scene and expect the reader to know that is what you are doing. Open scenes with it and even close scenes in the same voice, but when actually in the scene itself, pick one point of view and stick with it.

Whether you have finished the novel or not, I feel you need to draw up a complete outline of the story. When using omniscient point of view, you have to bring your reader up to speed on the vital aspects, but leave out any details that are not important for the reader to know. There will be masses of information that you (as author) need to know, but that doesn’t mean your reader has to be informed of every tiny detail. You are there to entertain, not to lecture.

You still have to develop your characters or your readers won’t care about them or what happens to them. The reader has to identify with the characters, not the absent narrator. For each scene, pick one main character to follow. Don’t head hop around the minor characters.

Omniscient point of view does not mean giving all the characters the same importance in the story. It means using the unseen narrator’s voice wisely to impart knowledge that you cannot otherwise let the reader in on.

Read Joseph Conrad. He was brilliant at limited omniscient point of view.

Limited omniscient means you limit yourself to being in one character’s head at a time. If you really feel you simply have to change point of view within a scene, do so by showing the reader you have moved to a new point of view.

In a romantic scene, for example, you could open from the girl’s point of view. We see and hear what she sees and hears. We are her as she looks at the love of her life who she feels has betrayed her.

Then the boyfriend could reach out and take her hand, while telling her he has been faithful. In the next sentence you can move into his head as he observes her reaction. The rest of the scene can then be shown from his perspective.

However, once you’ve made the switch, don’t be tempted to move back into the girl’s head. Stay with the boyfriend until you move to a new scene.

True omniscient viewpoint (where we know everything the author knows) is extremely difficult for readers to follow and is almost impossible for authors to get right. Even experienced and much published writers struggle with it. By using limited omniscient you’ll find the challenge less stressful, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy.

Critique Service for Writers
Flash 500 Home Page: Flash Fiction, Humour Verse
and Novel Opening Chapter and Synopsis Competitions

Monday, 16 May 2016

And the winners are ... #flashfiction

Flash Fiction Winners

The flash fiction top three stories for the first quarter 2016 are now up on the site. You can read the winning entries and the judge's report here

Sheila Bugler has now taken over the judge's chair for the second quarter 2016 which is open for entries: flash fiction category
For more information on the three competition categories (Flash Fiction, Short Story and Novel Opening), visit the Flash 500 Home Page.

Kind regards,


Critique Service for Writers
Flash 500 Home Page: Flash Fiction, Humour Verse
and Novel Opening Chapter and Synopsis Competitions

Monday, 9 May 2016

Using Humour in Writing #writetip

I will be leading a writing workshop on how to use humour in all forms of writing at Octavo's Book Cafe & Wine Bar in Cardiff on July 2nd from 3pm to 5pm. It would be great to see some of you there. More details below and on this link.

Using Humour in Writing
Have you ever wanted to write humour articles, but didn’t know where to start? Do you want to know how to add a leavening of wit to short stories and novels? Make a non-fiction book more interesting by injecting light-hearted touches at appropriate points? Many editors are crying out for humour, but it is an underdeveloped skill. Those who master it find more opportunities come their way. Lorraine Mace will show you how to increase your chances of publication by learning how to inject into humour into your writing, lifting it above the average and making it stand out for all the right reasons.

Lorraine Mace is humour columnist for Writing Magazine, penning the popular Notes from the Margin. She was previously humour columnist for both Living France and Spanish Magazine. Situational humour is much in evidence in her children’s series of novels featuring Vlad the Inhaler. Under a pen name she writes crime and slips in the occasional bit of humour to lighten what would otherwise be very dark reading. She is the co-author of The Writer’s ABC Checklist, a useful tool for writers of all levels.

Critique Service for Writers
Flash 500 Home Page: Flash Fiction, Humour Verse
and Novel Opening Chapter and Synopsis Competitions