I am writing my first novel in the third person semi-omniscient. I am aware that I ought to still structure passages from a primary character’s point of view, as in, if two or more characters are interacting in a scene, I can only relay to the reader what is going on in the head of one character; to do otherwise could get confusing. However, my protagonist has empathic powers, so, done well, might I use this mechanism to relay the thoughts and emotions of others character(s) in the scene or is this a rule that must never be broken?

  • "is this a rule that must never be broken?" No such thing! Commented Feb 18, 2021 at 11:37

1 Answer 1


Third person unlimited!

If your character is empathic (mind reader or just emotions?) you can have something very close to omniscient while maintaining limited omniscience - because your character has near omniscience when it comes to other people. I did something similar, where my MC could read minds. I treated the thoughts of others like a one-way conversation.

This makes a nice literary cheat, because you ARE limiting the view to your MC. They just happen to be able to see things others can't. It's similar to the POV of a precognitive, where they see things that might or will happen.

  • Thanks for the advice. Would you recommend always referring back to the main character and framing other’s thoughts through his point of view or having made the powers of the main character clear could one simply treat other characters in the scene in the same way as the MC? I hope that makes sense? Commented Feb 18, 2021 at 0:52
  • @Richie Hayes If you are using their thoughts like dialog, then follow the rules of dialog, as if they were saying their thoughts out loud. If the MC is getting sensory data from them, then use the MC's POV as if he was seeing or hearing what the others are. There are a variety of ways to do it. You could even do a cut-scene from the alternate character's POV, as long as it was clear it was the MC experiencing it vicariously.
    – DWKraus
    Commented Feb 18, 2021 at 2:17

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