While searching for something else, I ran across a manuscript editing service that said that omniscient viewpoint shouldn’t be used because the reader can’t identify with the character.
I don’t like sweeping statements like this because it sounds like those arbitrary rules that writers run into the time like “Don’t use adverbs.” The ones that suggest absolutes when in fact, there’s few absolutes in writing (other than typos:) ). Omniscient does have a distant quality to it, and that makes it a good choice for some types of books and not for others.
But does it make it hard to identify with the character?
Depends largely on the story itself. I could see that being an issue with the political and military thrillers. But then, the goal of those type of books is to solve the problem and save the world, not to worry about the personal problems of the main character.
But is there a book in omnscient where the reader identified with the characters? Sure. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. The story goal was quite different from the military thriller one, and the writer picked details that drew sympathy from the reader for the character.
In fact, I don’t think the story would have worked as well if it had been one in either first or third. Harry Potter had a lot of terrible things happen to him in his life, and in the traditional viewpoints, his own viewpoint would have likely made it come across as whiny and annoying rather than sympathetic.
Originally, when I was still trying to decide on viewpoint for my Urban Fantasy, I tried first. The main character has been through a lot, and first person tended to bring out the worst elements of it. Distance made a BIG difference, as it does with the Harry Potter books.
Yes, it is possible for the reader to identify with a character from the omniscient viewpoint.
Want a list of books in omniscient viewpoint to read? Check out my page tab at the top called “Omniscient Viewpoint Books.”