I am in the midst of reworking my latest manuscript into a shape that someone might be inclined to publish. To help me along I hired a professional editor and writer, whose comments and suggestions, for the most part, have been very helpful. However, I am struggling with her insistence that I avoid the third person omniscient POV. While writing from a character's POV can certainly add immediacy and authenticity (and changing POV can be jarring), sometimes it just doesn’t work for me. My editor insists that the omniscient observer style of, say, Charles Dickens (I was flattered) is no longer in vogue. Can a successful urban fantasy novel be narrated with a combination of both omniscient observer and individual characters POVs?
The first rule of writing is that there are no rules.
You can write any story you want using any combination of POV.
The recently late Terry Pratchett wrote many parts of his novels using omniscient POV. He'd vary the POV between a very intimate close-3rd POV and a very distant effectively omniscient POV transcending time and space.
I think your editor is telling you that your skills as a writer are not strong enough to successfully use an omniscient POV. While that POV seems easier, it has drawbacks that impact storytelling. It is also harder to establish an engaging and immersive reading experience. I think that is because it makes the character-centered sense of setting and event much more difficult to write.
Which question do you want answered?
Is omniscient observer POV really dead?
Can a successful urban fantasy novel be narrated with a combination of both omniscient observer and individual characters POVs?
Your last sentence suggests you are combining both multi-character POVs and an omniscient narrator.
This is not your title provoking that omniscient POV is 'dead'.
These questions are so different I think you've done it deliberately to misrepresent the issue. I suspect you have not really tried to make that change, and hiding the facts behind a deliberately misrepresented title is not helping you arrive at an honest answer.
It's your money
You're paying a professional for their advice. Obviously it's up to you whether to accept or reject, but you have not presented us an honest case, and you haven't said why you want/need to. I'm chalking it up to stubbornness and immaturity of an amateur, otherwise you wouldn't need to misrepresent what she'd said as some 'absolute' when it was actually tailored advice for your particular situation.
I default agree with your advisor who has read your manuscript. This sounds like a problem of narrative voice. Maybe a great writer can pull it off, but let's face the truth: if your omniscient narrator had been dazzling, she wouldn't advise you to drop it "just because".
The usual reason (here) why an amateur writer wants to 'cheat' on POV is because they think the reader needs to be handheld through every step of the story, and if there's no character to literally stand there and watch it happen, then the reader too stupid to work it out and just has to be told in a dry character-less infodump by the author.
Can you see why that's a red flag?
Since I haven't read your story, and you don't say why you needed/wanted to do flip back-and-forth, I can't offer any real solutions, but here's one creative suggestion:
If you had a less-omniscient, biased narrator with a very specific voice – in Urban Fantasy it could even be an enchanted object that no one else can hear – with strong opinions on (everything), I think that might fit better with all the character POVs. Something like that might 'fix' any POV holes while adding a counterpoint-voice to the story, not just a workaround that (potentially) breaks the flow of an ensemble.
In other words, try to come up with an interesting narrator that isn't just the author telling the reader what happened.
The modern reader, unlike most readers in the 1800s and early 1900s, is looking for immersion and identification with the protagonists of the story.
As a beginning writer, although I don't think it is a great idea to try and imitate best selling authors, it is a good idea to use them as templates of what sells.
And there are some but not many Omniscient POVs. Most of them are 3PL (Third Person Limited), sometimes alternating protagonists by chapter or section, and most of them follow the standard story structure, and that is what is selling now, and getting good reviews, and getting good word of mouth. All of that is critical to success: Only about 5% of readers will buy a new book by a new author on their own. Those are "Early Adopters", they have the time and money to risk buying a book by an unknown just because the blurb, the cover and a short sample of the writing sounds interesting.
Some critics will also deign to read a few pages and see if they are engaged.
All other sales rely on those Early Adopters and critics, both sophisticated readers, and if they don't recommend it, sales go nowhere. It is a flop.
Publishers hate flops. Agents hate flops. So any commercial success you hope to have should be geared to giving those Early Adopters and critics, what they expect: An imaginative new story with a new character in a new setting, written in the expected style they know can sell.
That is how you break through.
There are a few exceptions to this rule: Publishers and agents aren't stupid; they will make exceptions for well known authors with a fan base. Stephen King will likely be published if he wants to try something experimental; so would JK Rowling, or Dan Brown. Publishers know their millions of fans will trust the author and buy the book; they aren't likely to lose money on it.
And sometimes, blind luck will work. JK Rowling was rejected on her first book by every publisher she could find, a few dozen times. The one thing that saved her was the young daughter of a publisher that found Rowling's manuscript in the already rejected pile, started reading it, and told her father he had to publish it. Thus was a multi billion dollar franchise begun; Rowlings writing style did not appeal to adults reviewing it, they couldn't get past her numerous technical flaws. But it was a wildly popular fantasy with children, that didn't care about the overuse of adverbs and other technical faults.
But I would not count on that. You have to get published first. And an intermittent omniscient point of view is likely to destroy your chances, a new author needs to be in the top 1% or 2% of transcripts received to make it.
Stick to the script. When you are a strong selling author by sticking to the script, then agents and publishers will trust you to innovate.
Certain genres have certain conventions, and it might put readers off if you broke them. For example, Young Adult literature today is conventionally written in first or close third person perspective. Because (apparently) readers of YA want to identify with the protagonist and be drawn into his or her experience. This doesn't work well when the events are told from the distance of an omniscient narrator.
As this example illustrates, viewpoint isn't right or wrong in an absolute sense – it is "dead" or not – but it serves a certain purpose for your story. So the question you need to ask yourself is:
How does my story change when told from different viewpoints, and which viewpoint best facilitates the effect I am trying to achieve?
You don't give enough details in your question for us to answer that question, but maybe you can answer it by looking at other works in your genre and considering to what effect you would want to deviate from that.
Also, kill your darlings. That is, don't become infatuated with what you created. Professional writers can and do change everything about their texts, if it helps sell their work or makes their work better (whichever flavour of professionalism you subscribe to).