[Writing Prompt] Third Person, Omniscient

Today we’re climbing outside our protagonist’s head and looking at the whole scene.

The Prompt

Write A Story From The Third Person, Omniscient, Perspective


  • Agatha Christie, Charles Dickens, Terry Pratchett…they make this look easy. Now it’s your turn. Go and look up a favorite novel written with an omniscient narrator and notice how the author handles the transitions from allowing you to see inside one person’s head and then anthers, and then imparting information too.
  • You still want to be wary of ‘head-hopping’ within the same scene (sharing the inner thoughts of one person then jumping back and forth between difference characters) because it’s disorienting for the reader. You conjure up the most sympathy for a character when the reader can empathize with them, so be sparing in your use of internal monologues.
  • The advantages of writing in Third Person omniscient, are that you can commentate on the situation or the characters; you can be the reader’s best friend, relating the story of some other folks you know in an amusing or terrifying, or ironic style; you can give the reader a ‘heads up’ about what’s coming later (“If only Dorothy had been able to see the ‘wizard’, at that very moment at home, alone, eating a huge block of cheese and spaced out in front of the television. Perhaps then she would have relied a little more on her own abilities. But alas, she was, for now, in the dark….”); you can use a different voice from you characters, in the narrative section — you’re not limited to writing in the voice of a murderer or a southern belle or a 12 year old all the time; you don’t have to have a character in the scene all the time — you can have digressions and background information —  as long as it is interesting — and it can be easier to ‘show’ not ‘tell’ than when you were writing in First Person.
  • Beware of ‘info-dump’, where you just tell the reader what they need to know, instead of having the characters discover it or discuss  it – this is boring and unemotional for the reader. Also, beware the temptation to go off on those backstory tangents that take the reader out of the story; to preach; to point out the obvious and to end up writing the introduction to a 400,000 word epic tale. You’re still writing a short story, remember!
  • Consider rewriting your First Person story yet again, this time in Third Person, Omniscient


Did you write today? Did you rewrite an earlier story or come up with something new? Did you find yourself writing a fairy story or a Dickens tale? Was this a different perspective for you? Leave a comment or join the conversation in the community.


3 thoughts on “[Writing Prompt] Third Person, Omniscient”

  1. Every time I read “3rd person omniscient”, I get Hoffman’s speech in Stranger Than Fiction in my head, viz:

    “I’ve written papers on “Little did he know.” I’ve taught classes on “Little did he know.” I once gave an entire seminar based upon “Little did he know.” Sonofabitch, Harold. “Little did he know” means there’s something he did not know. That means there’s something you don’t know. Did you know that?”


    1. Thanks Chris, that’s an interesting take on how and where this is used in modern writing – I can see that.

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