Whose Side Are They On?
Finding the Voice of an Omniscient Narrator
A lot has happened during the first full week of drafting this pond novel.
We’ve got 3,500 words on the page, and I actually feel okay about most of them!
Anna and I went through our first round of note giving/receiving. So far, her very astute notes include “fun fact, Bakelite is the brand name” and “feel like this list needs some percussion.”
We also had another working session, where we hashed out critical questions like, “What kind of car does this character drive?” and “How big is the pond?”
We now have a map. I missed my calling as a cartographer.
During our working session, we made one very important decision. We determined early on that our POV would be third person, but we never really nailed down whether it should be a close third or an omniscient third. My instinct as I began writing was to go omniscient, but I wasn’t 100% sure. So I highlighted some of the spots in the first few chapters where the narration went really wide — basically where the narrator talked about things that none of the characters could possibly know, e.g. details about people who lived on the pond 100 years ago — and asked Anna what she thought. I assumed we’d have some back and forth about the pros and cons, but Anna was solidly in the omniscient camp, so omniscient it is.
We then discussed the voice a bit. This narrator sees all and knows all, but what’s their opinion? Whose side are they on? We decided the narrator is nonjudgmental, essentially loving, and, as Anna put it, “on the side of people not being an ass to their neighbors.” Basically, the narrator’s got thoughts on what’s happening in the novel, but at the end of the day, she’s rooting for our three main characters.
Momentum is good, vibes are good.