Tag Archives: Head hopping

Writing (or not writing) in Omnipotent POV (Or is that Head Hopping?)

I recently was contacted by a friend who I did a beta read for, asking for help.

She wrote her manuscript from an “omnipotent” point of view, which means you are inside every character’s head, and hear all their thoughts.

Think GirlApparently I was not the only one who cautioned her against this. She asked for tips on how to fix her manuscript to not make it sound like “head hopping”.

As I typed up my lengthy response, I figured it might be beneficial to others as well.  Hope this helps … and before anyone starts yelling, remember that SEVERAL beta readers had told her that the head hopping in her manuscript was jarring.

This was my response:

Omnipotent POV is very hard these days. In my opinion, it is a very “old” kind of writing. Not that there is anything wrong with that. Many classics are written in this fashion.  The problem with omnipotent in contemporary writing is that readers have become accustomed to a deeper experience. And from what I’ve seen, the deeper the better. This can only be done effectively with one POV per scene.  More than that and the reader gets confused, and it is harder for them to immerse themselves in the story.

When I was trying to defend my own Omnipotent manuscript a few years ago, (a mutual friend) recommended a romance novel to me, written by a best selling author that had sold a gazillion copies.  I read it, but to be honest, even though she was trying to help me defend omnipotent, it made me completely change my mind. The “head hopping” was far more distracting than I ever thought it would be reading a professional book.

All this to say… that most (not all) publishers will be more comfortable with third person or first person POV, and having only one POV per chapter (or a scene break, but I personally prefer one per chapter

Has omnipotent been done? Of course. Has it sold?  Yup. Is it as good as deep POV from a single character? – debatable, and depends on what you think is good. From what I have seen, It looks like the people doing it are well established, and publishers (and readers) will buy their books no matter what.

For newbies like us, you might want to be cautious.

However, if you love the omnipotent, and think you NEED it, go for it! It might end up excellent. You could start a new trend.

(Note: I did show her in her novel that almost every scene cold have easily been written in one character’s POV, or switching up with a scene break)

Just do so with caution, knowing that it could potentially be an instant deal breaker for some pubs and agents. (As any POV could be, but more so than the more accepted methods these days.)

I did read an article written by an agent last year (cannot remember who is was, sorry) that said that omnipotent was “lazy writing” and put it out there in the category of manuscripts with show verses tell issues

Will everyone think that way?  No, of course not.

Again, this is just to make you realize what you might be up against. If you do choose to do omnipotent, it needs to flow fluidly from one character to another so it is not jarring. I think this is something that will just take a lot of practice until you get it right

Best of luck whatever you decide!

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