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I wrote a novel in "third person omniscient" which worked well because it is a very long novel and certain scenes were better described from multiple characters' biased views along with the narrator's objective view. I particularly enjoyed it because the narrator had a sinister, lyrical, and antiquated tone which matched the story's darkness.

After finishing the first draft, I began reading more fiction "how to" books and for some reason I thought that I had to write in "third person limited."

Because of that misunderstanding, I've rewritten many chapters in 3rd-limited, but some seem awkward to me after the rewrite. In some chapters, however, the 3rd-limited style does indeed seem to me to function better.

Now I understand that 3rd-omnicient is permissible as long as the narrator maintains the same tone (according to Monica Wood's "Description" page 105 in The Elements of Fiction Writing series).

I feel like I've "painted myself in a corner" wherein some chapters are now in the original 3rd -omniscient and some are 3rd-limited (I don't see how I can easily go back). Also, some seem to work better in one style and some in another.

I'm wondering, can fiction novel chapters change style from one to another? That is, can some chapters be 3rd-omniscient and some 3rd-limited? Or does the entire story have to be in one POV style?

Please help. Choosing among the POV styles has turned out to be the most extremely difficult aspect of writing for me.

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There is no rule that all parts of a novel must be from the same PoV, or in the same style. I have read and enjoyed novels that switch between first-person and third-person omniscient, or between tight-third following different characters.

For example I am just now reading Christmas Mourning by Margaret Maren (a mystery). It has two major characters, Deborah and Dwight. Some chapters are in first person in Deborah's voice. Some are in tight third-person following Dwight.

The Book of Skulls by Robert Silverberg (SF, sort of) has four different first-person narrators, who rotate once per chapter. The Aubrey/Maturin books by Patrick O'Brian (historical fiction) have some scenes in tight third person from Jack Aubrey's PoV, and some from Maturin's, a few from the PoV of minor characters, and a few in omniscient third giving info none of the major characters know (doings of opposition characters, often).

In short, there is no rule against mixing limited, even tight third person with omniscient. You might want to include some sort of indicator or hint to the reader when the viewpoint changes. Christmas Mourning uses a line like "Dwight - Sunday Afternoon" at the start of each third-person chapter.

In any case it is helpful to make the "voice" different enough that the reader has an idea where s/he is.

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  • Thank you David. It sounds to me like you're saying that it's okay to switch POV as long as it's done deliberately, purposely, and clearly. Also, please clarify what you meant by, h9ntm, please.
    – Beebok
    Oct 17 '21 at 16:39
  • @Beebok Yes, I am saying that. "h9ntm" was a typo for "hint" I have corrected it. Oct 17 '21 at 18:14
  • Animorphs used frequent shifts of 1st person narrators in the same books (usually the Megamorphs where all six main characters took turns narrating, though it shows up in several of the main title books.).
    – hszmv
    Oct 18 '21 at 13:32
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There are no rules.
Writing is all about you and what works for your story. You can decide whatever you want as long as it works for your story, and as long as it won't confuse the readers.
It sounds like you know what works best for your story here, and are only afraid of breaking the rules.
Go with your feeling, and with what your story need. You know best. Don't be afraid of writing it in a way that's not completely conventional.
Good luck!

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You have done nothing wrong to continue backing yourself into the corner. Actually, you have been very bold so far by being yourself. Whatever voice articulates your vibe when executed well would have the desired impact and will tell the story straight from your heart. That is the art of writing.

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