I am writing in 3rd person limited POV. I have noticed I have a section of text that seems to shift to omniscient. A lot of this happens when I'm forced to tell bits of information to the reader. By telling this information during this POV isn't it implied that particular person knows this? Sometimes to me it seems like I'm shifting POV.

Are there any obvious cues and clues, words, phrases, etc. that are an obvious giveaway that I am now writing in 3rd omniscient rather than 3rd limited?

2 Answers 2


If you're writing in 3rd limited, then you should only be sharing information that the POV character knows.

I don't think there are any specific words to watch out for - it's more the content than the style.

If there are parts of your story that absolutely MUST be shared that your POV character can't know about, you may want to look at what Rowling did in several Harry Potter books - she wrote mostly in limited third, but had a few sections (maybe even entire chapters?) written in omniscient.

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    Hmm. I'll have to take a look and see. Thanks for the source.
    – Dynas
    Aug 13, 2015 at 23:09
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    You may also want to look at how Stephen King does it. Google "pov stephen king" or "first third person stephen king" or some such, it's been discussed on the web. In short, King wildly switches viewpoints, and he sells just great. I don't even think it is sloppy writing, but just normal, everyday narrative style: when people tell each other about their lives, they don't stick to one viewpoint, but tell each part of the story in the way that best conveys their meaning. That's what King does. And maybe that's the best way and all that literary theory driven writing is just anal anyway.
    – user5645
    Aug 14, 2015 at 7:05
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    I'd have to do some rereading to be sure, but I'd have said King wrote in omniscient - he sometimes gives information that NO POV characters have, doesn't he?
    – Kate S.
    Aug 14, 2015 at 7:27
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    I believe two opening chapters (Books 1 and 6, IIRC) are written in third-person from someone else's POV rather than Harry's. Everything else is third-person but focused on Harry's perspective. Aug 14, 2015 at 10:17
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    I just did a "look inside" at Amazon for the Harry Potter books - first chapter of first book is omniscient. The first paragraphs of the next two are omniscient, which is kinda cool, but they zoom into limited third quickly.Book 4 has 1/2 a chapter omniscient, then goes into Frank's POV. Book 5 does 2 paragraphs omniscient, then zooms to Harry. 6 starts with the PM's POV, then does a chapter of omniscient. 7 starts with omniscient. I don't have the full books, so I don't know if there's more shifting within them. It's pretty effective, really - set the scene, then zoom in.
    – Kate S.
    Aug 14, 2015 at 12:08
  1. Explaining the thoughts of a character other than the protagonist

  2. Depicting events from which the protagonist is absent

  3. Depicting the protagonist in non-conscious states (e.g., sleeping, dead)

Those are just a few. You can think of it this way: could your protagonist narrate this prose to themselves in the third-person? (Maybe that's a bit convoluted.)

If you do wish to switch, you can delineate the change at least subtly by starting a new chapter (and perhaps the reader will pick up on the pattern of omniscient- vs non- chapters). I've read books where the non-omniscient chapters feature, after their chapter-number, the name of the character to whose PoV the chapter is constricted.

If you're aware of what you're doing, it shouldn't be too big of a deal. Good luck!

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