Is it considered bad form to have a novel where the majority of it is 3rd person limited, then change to omniscient for a few scenes? I think I can build up more tension if the protagonist is not in a few scenes.

  • Harry Potter is a novel written from the author's POV (hence third person). She is following Harry's life, but sometimes has other scenes. In the last book, the very first chapter is about Lord Vordemort and his friends. Harry is nowhere in sight; he is at home with the Dursleys. It has been done before.
    – Double U
    Feb 10, 2019 at 2:56
  • I feel like there's an underlying reason here. Why do you want to do this? What will it solve that you can't settle in a limited 3rd person POV?
    – Oren_C
    Feb 10, 2019 at 10:04
  • @Oren_C I have a situation that is brewing that is of significant concern for the protagonist, but it feels awkward to have the protagonist on the scene as the crisis is first building. I created a scene where the tension was building, and protagonist finds out about it after the fact, but now I have been advised I should not have the initial scene with the protagonist not present.
    – Bob516
    Feb 10, 2019 at 15:58
  • @Bob516 Does the scene that explains the brewing situation must be told from an omniscient POV or merely a different character? It is quite common to use multiple characters; I'm not sure why you would like the narrative to be told from an Omniscient POV.
    – Oren_C
    Feb 11, 2019 at 8:25
  • @Oren_C Since there is no primary or secondary character in the scene I was advised not to have the scene told through a tertiary characters POV.
    – Bob516
    Feb 11, 2019 at 21:52

1 Answer 1


Like I wrote on another answer about POV, don't overthink it.

There are writing rules, but rules are meant to be broken (just broke the avoid clichés rule). Make sure you do it at appropriate points in the story (a chapter break is probably best). Make it easily recognizable to the reader that they are no longer in the protagonist's head.

In the end, if switching POV confuses the reader and pulls them out of the scene, causes confusion, etc., don't do it. If it helps move the plot forward, provides necessary intrigue or suspense, etc. etc. Go for it!

Get a beta reader if you're not sure. Write it how you think it works best. If the beta reader notices the switch and expresses confusion or disruption because of the switch, then you know it doesn't work.

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