I am the occasional practitioner of omniscient voice, or as I like to call it, the Tom Jones voice. This name is not in reference to the knighted swinging singer of “Its Not Unusual”, but instead a reference to the 1749 novel by Henry Fielding. You see, when Mr. Fielding needed to explain a small bit of backstory, he used omniscient voice, and simply… explained it, and generally with a very dry wit. No need to filter it through a character’s point of view or shoehorn the info into dialogue. I have used the Tom Jones voice in the same manner – whether it be to give the background of a fictional country or the heretofore unknown to the reader (but known to the characters) tidbit of information, such as the identity of a spy.
Omniscient voice is not that common in romance novels – and it’s easy to understand why. When a story is as internal and personal as falling in love, you (the reader and writer both) don’t really want to interrupt the flow of emotion just to step back and view the larger picture, which is what omniscient voice does. The downside is that the information has to come out somewhere, and sometimes it makes dialogue a little lumpy. So for me it’s a bit of a gamble. But, here’s the reason I prefer it:
Which sounds better to you…
While Mary and John were married, he was employed at the DoReMi Agency, which had any number shady dealings. Difficulty arose when he decided to blow the whistle on his bosses, resulting in his firing, subsequent destitution, loss of wife, and loss of dog to his best friend Joe — who, deciding he could not possibly own a Chi-Chi, renamed the pup Larry.
Cindy reached over and took Joe’s hand. “Do you mean to tell me,” she said, “that your friend John who used to work at the DoReMi Agency blew the whistle on his bosses’ criminal dealings and because of that lost his job, his money, and his wife? And you got his dog?”
“Yep,” said Joe. “And I renamed the dog Larry.”
What voice or person do you prefer to read and/or write in? First? Third from character POV? Third omniscent?