What is third-person omniscient?
Third-person omniscient is a point of view in which the narrator knows all the thoughts and feelings of all the characters in the story. This type of narrator is often found in classic literature, such as Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice.
Third-person omniscient can be a tricky point of view to write in because the narrator knows everything about everyone, so it’s essential to make sure that the information you include is relevant to the story and helps move the plot along. It can be tempting to include every thought and feeling your characters have, but this will only confuse your readers and bog down the story.
When done well, third-person omniscient can give your readers a rich and detailed experience, immersing them in your story and making them feel like they know your characters intimately. If you’re considering using this point of view for your next project, here are some things to keep in mind.
The different types of third-person omniscient
In fiction, there are four types of third-person omniscient points of view: limited, objective, reliable, and intrusive.
Limited third-person omniscient: The narrator only knows what one character thinks and feels. This is sometimes also called a single viewpoint or objective third person.
Example: In J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye, the narrator follows Holden Caulfield around and reports what he sees and hears without revealing Holden’s thoughts or feelings directly to the reader.
Objective third person: The narrator does not reveal any character’s thoughts or feelings. This type of POV is sometimes called detached third person or fly-on-the-wall POV.
Example: In Bret Easton Ellis’ American Psycho, the narrator tells us what the characters do and say but never gives us access to their thoughts or feelings. We see everything that happens, but we don’t know anyone’s innermost thoughts or motivations.
Reliable third person omniscient: The narrator is reliable and trustworthy, and we believe what they tell us about the character’s thoughts and feelings.
Example: In Gabriel García Márquez’s One Hundred Years of Solitude, the narrator is all-knowing but also has a personality and voice that colours the story. We get a sense of the narrator as someone who loves and sympathises with the characters.