And we are back to our regular scheduled programming! Whew! Wipe that sweat from your brow. Hopefully I won't make another mistake - I say with a wry smile, since making mistakes are kind of a part of my whole shtick. Did you know Wednesdays are almost my favourite day of the week? Truth! They are only trumped by Saturdays, which is kind of unfair because it's the last day before my weekends start. This 'wordy' feature is kind of awesome, if I do say so myself.
Today's word comes with a story.
The word: Omnipresent
It's origin is Medieval Latin, which is sort of awesome all in itself, and the definition is a widespread and all-knowing presence (kind of like God and Santa). It's an interesting idea,isn't it? To be all places at one time. If we apply this 'all knowingness' to writing then we will be heading in the direction to the reason why I like this word so much.
A long time ago, I think it was 2004, or maybe earlier, I joined a writing website and uploaded a couple chapters of the first novel I ever wrote - Seeking Eleanor. I did this for a couple of reasons, mostly because I wanted to be a better writer, but also to see if I had any chops at all. The thing about writing a book, anyone can do it, but that doesn't mean they are actually any good at. Sure, you can put a sentence together and it could be grammatically gorgeous only to come up short when it comes to the art of yarn spinning. (Not talking about knitting here, but the way in which wonderful writers weave words together to form paragraphs that keep you up at night) Now, I always thought Eleanor was a beautiful girl, but her original condition is a little embarrassing to admit and, when I think back on it, I cannot believe I allowed strangers to read her. After all these years, she's undergone many changes, rewrites and edits have morphed her into a much more appealing novel.
In the beginning, on this writerly website, my little book was noticed and rapidly moved up the ranks, which I can openly admit gave my a boost of confidence. Except, there was a fair bit of debate circling her. Obviously, she needed work, the amount of adverbs were atrocious and the tense was a little mixed up in parts, but those things were easy to fix. The point of view was another thing all together. I distinctly remember a man named JayG who left a comment about how there was way too much head-hopping going on in the narrative.
I didn't know what this meant. After all, I was a green writer who only wanted to tell tales and had never concerned herself with reading up on structure and format, or any of those other things that are (or so I feel) secondary to voice. So, like any good writer, I looked it up because I wanted to learn and get better and grow and, maybe one day, be able to sell a book to a publisher and make a modest income off of writing.
Head hopping is when the author jumps between characters in the narrative, changing their voice as they do so, telling what one person is thinking only to flip to what another is feeling. All the while maintaining multiple character voices. This can, of course, be muchly confusing. A thread sparked a debate in the forum, led my me actually, because I wanted to know if my voice was changing throughout. Was I head-hopping? Or was there a different term for what I was doing?
For the majority of readers, the voice wasn't changing, which meant it wasn't head hopping but an omnipresent (or third person omniscient) point of view. Meaning, the voice was the author/narrator's, not a character from the novel, who knew what everyone was thinking, feeling and doing. All seeing. All and powerful. Kind of like Oz. Authors are kind of godly when writing a book, aren't there? I mean, a little, right?
What I find most interesting is that the third person omniscient point of view used to be more commonly used, by Jane Austen, Tolstoy and Tolkien (to name a few), but over time this preferred way of writing has fallen to the wayside. Nowadays, limited third person and first person POVs are hugely popular due to their ability to create a more personal connection between the characters and the readers. I myself always enjoyed the omnipresent way of writing because it allowed you to see into each character.
One day, when Seeking Eleanor is published and available for readers to fall in love with, I imagine there will be people out there who will say, "I remember when she had an omnipresent POV and was riddled with adverbs." That's right, I changed the entire book. Why? Because I felt there was a distance between the reader and the story going on. Besides, I wanted to develop Eleanor and Devon's voices, to bring them to life, and make them believable. I suppose if I was a truly gifted writer I would have been able to do this while maintaining the omnipresent narrative.
It seems strange to love a word for the role it once played in your first novel. Well, the reason I have such an affection is because I learned something from it. And isn't that why we are all here? To learn and grow, and be better, even the things we do for fun.