Some time ago, I wrote an article on this website about how to write in omniscient. Don’t! Don’t go looking for it. I took it down because it was wrong. I’m still not qualified to give advice on how to write omniscient like how it’s written in some literary fiction classics.
Instead, let me tell you some things I have discovered about the trade. This is the first article in a series of my discoveries about omniscient style writing.
Why don’t I look up how to write omniscient? Why not ask Mr. Google?
Well, I did. And there’s not much out there, and many people are confused about head hopping. We’ll get into that in another article. This article is about commentary.
What is commentary?
Well, for starters, it’s my own term. I’m calling it commentary. Recall the Olympics. There is always some overly excited person commenting as the competitors go about their competitions. These commentators often give their opinions and might even talk about other things.
“Two years ago, remember Roger? I went to this pool and didn’t know how deep it was because no one told me and it said no where and nearly got lost at pool sea and it was craaaaaaaazy, I’m telling you, yeah. But these pools are made under strict regulations…”
You know those guys 😉
So what is commentary in omniscient fiction?
Basically, it’s me, the author, telling you, the reader, about extra things about the place or about the people as if I had been there and seen everything and know everything.
It’s story time. Gather around, kids.
Here’s an excerpt of the first few paragraphs from “The Façade of Quad in Nimrod“:
In the country of Lwendolen lay the once grand city of Nimrod that was the birthplace of King Knimrod II, but only the deteriorating lip-gumming old folk remembered the truly grand days. Today, egotistical rich men and painted ladies were the upper crust, the cream of society, and a true snob mob that sat atop their imaginary thrones. Below them lurked the designated poor and, further down, those unofficially classified as Failures crawled at the feet of everyone. These Failures were at most from the middle class but never the upper class.
It was fine if such Failures learned—somehow—to stand up on their own two feet like a newborn colt standing on wobbling legs, but not always was the case. Such deadbeat, incompetent, good-for-nothings—as the rest of society saw them—often ended up in a strange old city commonly referred to, by both Nimrod citizens and the denizens that resided in this god-forbidden place, as Mourning.
No one, absolutely no one, wanted to wake up to find themselves in Mourning which was rumored to house cannibalistic beings. So, beyond the Gwen Forest, through the abysmal trees that lost its leaves before the end of summer, Mourning residents kept to themselves and the rest of society averted their eyes. As to this day, no one from the top of the hierarchical pyramid ever ventured to this part of Lwendolen.
As to this day.
This is all my commentary on this fictional country called Lwendolen and it’s fictional city called Nimrod. I know everything and sometimes, yes, I may tell you what I know.
And, another excerpt, a bit later.
Henry Quad, the eldest son of the Quad family of four, has been caught sneaking home late at night. The Quad family being the social elite, Henry father, Mordecai, takes it upon himself to discipline Henry but to no avail.
Henry just stood there, frozen, unable to move out of shock from being discovered although it inevitable with all the noise his shoes were making. There was nothing more intimidating to Henry than the sight of his father. Mordecai was a big man with a belly, but not morbidly obese. He adorned a thick mustache he combed every morning that at the end of the day lay flat as if someone had stuck fur on his lip. His mustache twitched as he glared down at his son thinking how pathetic of a boy he was. Mordecai could not understand why his son broke every rule while knowing there were painful, unavoidable consequences.
While commenting on Mordecai’s appearance, I’m also introducing him to the reader. (I think) we can get a sense of what kind of a man Mordecai is and have some feeling about who Henry is.
Last excerpt of my commentary (although there are many):
Lady Margarita, as she was commonly referred to as, was the epitome of high-class being an active Baroness—one of the few remaining near-royals in Lwendolen. Many called her kind and giving and she was a well-known philanthropist and one of the few who still sent ample amounts of donations to orphanages and workhouses to try to support the poor. Those who worked in her fields or tended to her livestock would constantly praise her work ethic and would remain loyal to her as long as they could. In other words, not many people had a bad thing to say about Lady Margarita.
While introducing Lady Margarita, I am also giving my commentary on her and telling the reader what people have said about her because I know and see all.
You can have a lot of fun with commentary. Doesn’t always have to be good commentary. There are times when I actually criticize certain characters’ actions or words. Saying things like, “Although, he should have been more careful.” or “She was just too naive.”
You can go crazy with commentary, but don’t go off on long tangents. That’s my advice.
Next in the series: Omniscient Discoveries 2: Head Hopping