How can you signal the readers that the perspective has shifted to an omniscient narrator without explicitly stating it? Sometimes, you want to change from third person narration to omnipotent narration, because it's easier to describe something objectively without having to write narration while taking into account the psyche of your narrator without telling there's a perspective shift?

Also, how do you tell your readers that this perspective shift is not from an "omniscient narrator", but is from the flawed point of view of the original narrator, but is told as though it was an omniscient narrator telling the story to make writing a lot easier and more manageable?

2 Answers 2


Ok, so let's define omniscient.

That is, having knowledge of everything.

And that INCLUDES your flawed protagonist and how they see things.

So you can present their viewpoint, what they see as how they see it,for the most part.

So something like this:

Ignoring the hunger in his belly, he patched his shoes diligently, in the belief that when all the holes merged together he would use the shoe fund he had gathered over several years by slipping coins in between the floorboards, though he was unaware that jingle of coins had alerted his landlord long ago, and that fund was regularly raided.

So basically we have facts about someone else that the main character does not know (the "little did he know..." omniscient signifier), but we aren't head hopping--that is, while we know the landlord became aware and stole, we don't know his thought process, while we are more intimately connected with the poor main character.

So what you really have is an omniscient viewpoint with a specific interest in the protagonist's point of view and life.

You can also have the "protagonist isn't there" and "protagonist didn't see" or "the protagonist ignored."

The protagonist isn't there basically goes like this, though there are many variations:

Minutes before Shoeless Joe stepped on the street, while he was taking a hot sudsy shower, children played in the street...

His not being there makes the POV clear, but we still get a detail about Joe.

You can also switch narrative distance. The upshot from the article is this, several lines from the same story:

  1. It was winter of the year 1853. A large man stepped out of a doorway.
  2. Henry J. Warburton had never much cared for snowstorms.
  3. Henry hated snowstorms.
  4. God how he hated these damn snowstorms. Under your collar, down inside your shoes, freezing and plugging up your miserable soul.

One of these is a "wide angle" POV so to speak, and the last closes in on Henry for a "close up" of his POV. You can basically treat POV like a camera, closing in or panning out with a smooth transition.

So you can do that. Also, in the movies, when things go black for a split second, being in a totally different place and scene is expected--transitional breaks in books, such as spacing, chapter breaks and other typographical cues for the reader to get ready for something new.


For the first part of your question. You could switch the focus to the environment the main characters are in. For example: they are driving in car & a newscaster makes an announcement on the radio. Giving the reader for a little while the sense of wider spaces.

For the second part, you could use a weather event like an incoming storm to signal to the reader a warning.

Hope this helps.

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