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So, I got a rejection letter from a publisher who cited that I was using third-person omniscient as a POV.  They claimed that this POV did not allow the reader to relate to the character as close as third-person limited or first-person (their exact words were, "the closer the better").

 

I can't do that in the current story I'm pitching because in the second book, the main character holds a few secrets that get revealed in the end.  Getting too deep into the character's head will literally destroy a crucial plot-twist, so I have to put some distance between reader and the character.  Secondly, the editor was wrong as it is actually third-person limited, and it was obvious they didn't read much past the first page of my manuscript before jumping to conclusions.  But that's neither here nor there.

 

What is your opinion on third-person omniscient?  Is the editor correct?  Is the editor incorrect?

 

I have my own opinions, but I'll let others chime in before offering those up.

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1 hour ago, Jeff Potts said:

What is your opinion on third-person omniscient?  Is the editor correct?  Is the editor incorrect?

 

Tough to say. It could be a personal preference thing, or the editor knows the genre well enough that a particular POV works better. Or the publisher is looking for something that concentrates more on the main character.

 

Or it could be that narrowing the scope of your story would make it better. That's always the toughest truth to accept, because it requires a writer to release their tight grip on the story.

 

1 hour ago, Jeff Potts said:

Secondly, the editor was wrong as it is actually third-person limited, and it was obvious they didn't read much past the first page of my manuscript before jumping to conclusions.

 

That would indicate that your story starts too slowly, and dosen't really grab the reader. Yet another tough truth to accept.

 

Have you submitted to other agents/publishers? If so, maybe you ought to wait to see if you get any feedback from them to compare. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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In my understanding, third-person omniscient lets the reader into everyone's thoughts. In TPL, the reader only knows what the character knows. The question, I think from your explanation, is whether or not the reader knows everything that the character knows.

 

If you are limiting what the reader knows only to that MC, then it is limited. If you get into the thoughts of other characters, then it's omnisicient. At least, that's my take.

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1 hour ago, Jeff Potts said:

What is your opinion on third-person omniscient?  Is the editor correct?  Is the editor incorrect?

Whether this is a good or a bad development, it's my understanding that third person omniscient has fallen into some disfavour in recent years. Getting deep into a character's head is exactly what a lot of agents, readers, and publishers want, in order to allow readers to have an emotional connection with the characters.

 

It should be possible to do that while still keeping your plot secrets intact. Even first-person books manage to keep some pretty big secrets under wraps. Books I've read recently that do that are The Wife Between Us by Greer Hendricks (first person) and A Stranger in the House and The Couple Next Door, both by Shari Lapena (third person). There are massive plot twists and big reveals in all those books, despite the use of first person and close third.

 

Also, everything @Accord64 said is spot on.

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15 minutes ago, Accord64 said:

Have you submitted to other agents/publishers? If so, maybe you ought to wait to see if you get any feedback from them to compare. 

 

Yes, this is the fourth that's given me feedback, fifth if you include the editor I used for the initial content and line edits.  Of them , none of them mentioned that my story started too slow.  In fact, quite the opposite.

 

Now, a little background about my submission (without naming names).  After I submitted, I did a little research on the publisher (yeah, I know, I should have done that beforehand).  I knew something was up when the editor pounced on my submission in less than 24 hours.  Since 2009, they've published roughly 10 books, the lion's share of them by the owners of the publisher.  At that moment, I realized I was wasting my time.  

 

The editor also mentioned that my character lacked flaws.  My wife got a particular chuckle out of that one, as my character is a bundle of flaws.  You can't get past chapter 1 without figuring that out.

 

So the editor never got past the first page or two.

 

There was more critique of my synopsis than the sample chapters.

 

So, no.  It's not indicative of a slow start.

 

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I've written many hundreds of rejections. If the editor rejected without actually reading your manuscript, you can safely ignore their critique and parse their rejection as "without any actual basis in fact, I'm just not feelin' it," which while irritating, does give you valuable information about who you'd consider submitting to again down the road.

Great writers of the past used 3rd Person Omni all the time. It's gone out of vogue but if the story works as-written (and wouldn't if you changed it), I wouldn't change it, I'd sub it elsewhere and see what comes of it.

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5 hours ago, Jeff Potts said:

Secondly, the editor was wrong as it is actually third-person limited, and it was obvious they didn't read much past the first page of my manuscript before jumping to conclusions. 

 

That's a bad sign when the editor doesn't read past the first page, Jeff.

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@Johne beat me to it, but 3rd person omniscient is a little out of fashion, but what is fashion if not cyclical? Just keep at it. 👍

 

For reference, I remember listening to a lecture by Brandon Sanderson where he talked about how to keep secrets from the reader when using third-person limited. He recommended simply having the character drag their thoughts away from the twist every time it was starting to surface - as people tend to do when they don't want to think about something they don't like. You can hint a little more each time, letting the thoughts linger a bit, until you're ready for the beans to spill. 

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I have to agree, your experience seems a little odd...I mean, either a POV is third person omniscient or it’s not, and a professional editor ought to know the difference.

 

Perhaps they could debate over how severely your character is flawed, for instance, but there’s really nothing subjective about the voice a story is written in...that’s like debating whether you wrote it in past or present tense.

 

Maybe it’s just as well they didn’t take your book. I hope you find a good place for it soon!

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2 hours ago, PenName said:

@Johne beat me to it, but 3rd person omniscient is a little out of fashion, but what is fashion if not cyclical? Just keep at it.

 

You sort of stole my thunder here.

 

And before I start, I didn't want this thread to be about the book I'm pitching.  It is what it is, however.

 

My thoughts on POV is this: things go in and out of fashion all the time.  This is all subjective.

 

Working in software has taught me many things, but the two things that I learned quickly is that trends come and go, and marketing can make a mediocre product spectacular.

 

Nowadays, I usually have to look for work, roughly, every 5 years.  It's interesting looking at job descriptions.  On year, everyone wants Ruby on Rails and PHP.  The next time I look, it's ReactJS and something else.  One goes out, and is replaced by something else.

 

Writing is a little more static, but there are only so many POV types.  It seems like EVERYONE is writing first-person these days.  When first-person is all the rage, third-person is the thing that stands out.  Wheels turn.  What's popular today won't be popular tomorrow.  And the person who writes with a different POV type, will be the one that stands out.

 

One of the most fun I've had reading a book was when I picked up Eaters of the Dead by Michael Chrichton.  The book starts as a factual journal of an Arab traveler, and eventually fades into the journal of a Viking saga.  The reason why it was so fun is because it was different.  Eventually, it became the movie The 13th Warrior, which was the driver for me buying the book.

 

While I disagree with the editor who reviewed my book, the notion that something has fallen out of disfavor, and will remain in disfavor doesn't hold water.  If it works for the story, people will read it.  And if it is different, it will pull people because of that.  

 

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I would not worry too much about this Jeff. From what you say about the publisher they seem more interested in their own stuff so maybe more critical of others. Personally, I would let go and stick to what you feel is right for your work. None of the other publishers and agents have flagged this up that you have approached. If it was a big problem, I am sure they would have done so.

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