What is Deep POV?
Deep POV is much like first person, but at the same time it is a third person form. However, unlike first person, we not limited to a first person narrator, but can bounce from one characters head to the next. However, we are limited to the thoughts, feelings, perceptions and guesses of a single narrator per scene.
In deep third person deep POV, we can get close to the viewpoint of the character’s heads. Like actors, as we’re writing, we can actually become the character. In a distant third-person mode, we may be privy to few of the character’s direct thoughts, and those are always related in italics. We may rely more on their actions and speech to characterize and understand them. Often, we’re acutely aware of what the viewpoint character is doing, as if we’re watching them with a tight focus, and every once in a while we get a voiceover of his or her thoughts
In deep POV, the character’s thoughts can form almost a running commentary on the actions of the story. We don’t just get the occasional Direct thoughts from the viewpoint characters’ heads are interwoven with the narration. In very deep POV, those statements might not even be italicized.
The objective in deep POV is to not hear the author’s but rather the character’s voice. The reader gets to step right into the character’s eyes. It sort of reminds me of the movie, Being John Malkovich where everything is processed through the eyes of the character, in that case, the actor John Malkovich. We don’t see the character standing at the side of a ship, but we see what he sees while he standing at the rail. We experience what the character experiences ourselves. It is a powerful and popular narration form.
I have been doing a lot more of this in my own novels, although for a long time I didn’t realize that the mode actually had a name. Deep POV mimics the way we perceive situations in real life. With a deep POV, the narrator only tells things that the POV character is consciously aware of. Here’s an example:
Traditional limited: Lacey heard the bill ring over the door. She wondered if Matthew had forgotten something.
Deep POV: The bell over the door rang. Was Matthew returning?
In the deep POV, the words heard and wondered have been removed. Why?
In real life, we don’t intentionally hear sounds and rarely recognize that we intentionally wonder about things. We are much more likely to simply acknowledge the sound for what it is and make a judgment about it.
Ways to deepen Third Person POV.
When writing the original first draft, I will often write in present rather than past tense. Instead of saying she went into the bathroom, I write she walks into the bathroom and I give a detailed view of what she sees.
During my edits, I cut out tags. I get away from telling and into showing what is going on in my character’s heads. Sometimes, I’ll take a single scene and write the scene from each character in the scene’s viewpoint.
I become a psychologist to the characters. I ask them “How does that make you feel?” and then I write it down. The character may say, “I feel sad.” And I would ask why do you feel sad? And describe that feeling to me.” Then I write down what the character tells me. I then ask the character, ”How do YOU act when you’re sad?” In other words, different people act differently. How does this character act differently than others might? How is this character similar? On television, when a woman is depressed, she eats some sort of chocolate ice cream (like death by chocolate).
Why Use Deep POV
Deep POV connects the reader more closely with the protagonist. The reader connects with the protagonist more emotionally. The author seems to disappear, providing a more interactive experience for your reader. Because the reader is emotionally connected to the character, the story provides a more interactive experience. When the reader is emotionally involved with your characters, they more easily relate to the characters and are more likely to buy subsequent books about these characters.
Deep POV DOs and DON’Ts
- Give your characters a strong voice. Use dialect, exclamations, figures of speech, colorful metaphors, personal interests and hobbies.
- Stay with one POV per scene.
- Refer to the POV character for intentional actions (She dipped her hands into the cold pond and poured it over his head.)
- Use pointing words, like this/that, here/there, and soon/later.
- Internalize everything. All details and descriptions come from the POV character’s observations.
- Choose verbs, adjectives, adverbs, and comparisons that show the characters individual opinion and viewpoint.
- Use “a” to show something that has just been noticed and “the” to show stuff the POV character already knew about.
- Limit dialogue tags. Use said only when necessary.
- Don’t Refer to the POV character directly when showing judgments, feelings, or observations. (experience through the character instead).
- Don’t filter the POV character’s experience. Some examples of filtering words are: thought, felt, saw, heard, realize, watch.
- Do not use passive voice. The POV character is in the subject of the sentence or clause whenever possible.
I will definitely be doing more of this as I continue editing my upcoming books. How about you? Have you considered writing Deep POV?
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Donna Brown is pastor at Faith in God Church 1 1/2 miles south of Brandsville, Missouri on Hwy 63. Sunday services are at 10 am and Wednesday night Bible Study at 6:30 pm. As Author Cygnet Brown, she has recently published her first nonfiction book: Simply Vegetable Gardening: Simple Organic Gardening Tips for the Beginning Gardener
She is also the author of historical fiction series The Locket Saga. which includes When God Turned His Head and Soldiers Don’t Cry, the Locket Saga Continues, and most recently, A Coward’s Solace, Book III of the Locket Saga