Deep point of view, or Deep POV for short, is a technique used to get inside the mind of a character and make a deep emotional connection with readers. Today we’re going to discuss writing in deep POV.
Woohoo! We’ve made it to the fourth installment in the weekly blog series featuring important writing lessons I learned while writing (and editing) my post-apocalyptic/dystopian Refuge Inc. series, Darkness Eternal. It officially releases March 1st, but you can celebrate with me by claiming a copy now at a special preorder discount.
When my editor returned Darkness Eternal edits to me, each page was marked with red (which is a good thing! Trust me). It’s not just the corrections to spelling, grammar, or word usage that pushes me to write better. It’s comments from the editor like these:
By asking, “What is your character thinking?” or “How does that make your character feel?” or “What did your character want to say?” the editor is giving me a chance to dig deeper into the character’s POV. By answering those questions, it allows me to:
- Show a character’s thought process
- Build a three-dimensional character
- Get readers to understand, relate, and empathize with a character
- Develop internal conflict
- Become a better storyteller
Besides answering those types of questions about your character’s thoughts and action, here are some other ways to deepen POV.
Eliminate signs of authorship & signs of telling
Has your character ever wondered, thought, felt, or heard? Get rid of those filler words and rewrite your sentences to put your character in action. Your character didn’t just “think.” What is she thinking? Telling instead of showing puts you as the author in the story, which then pulls the reader right out of it. That’s a big no-no.
The best way to stay off the page as the author is to simply describe what your character heard, thought, smelled, tasted, felt, etc., without using those words.
Instead of: I felt a tingle travel my arm.
Write: A tingle traveled my arm.
Instead of: She heard the sound of thunder overhead.
Write: Thunder roared overhead.
Limit “said” tags
Has your characters said, yelled, replied, or asked? Use dialogue tags sparingly or eliminate them altogether in exchange for action tags. Just as “felt” or “heard” makes a reader aware of the author in the story, the frequent usage of “said” and “asked” does the same, and becomes redundant. How effective is having a character say something, then reestablish that she said it with a said tag? That would be redundant, right?
Said tags prevent the reader from sinking into the story or envisioning scenes without much effort. Using said in dialogue often reminds the reader that she’s reading instead of allowing her experience to be immersive.
(Also, it’s a form of telling, and can be viewed as a sign of lazy writing from some readers.)
Instead of: “Look out!” Sam shouted. The door swung open.
Write: “Look out!” Sam moved to the side as the door swung open.
Instead of: “How was dinner?” I asked, taking off my jacket.
Write: “How was dinner?” I took off my jacket.
You can interchange action tags with thoughts too, as a way to create an emotional connection between character and reader.
“How was dinner?” When he didn’t answer, my world rocked. This was the beginning of the end of the only once-healthy relationship I’d known.
Write using first person narrative
First person and third person narrative are the most popular POVs in fiction, and each have their pros and cons. One benefit to writing in first person narrative is it allows you to get deeper into your character’s mind with a little more ease than third person narrative.
You are viewing the world through this character’s perspective throughout the entire story. You are already using his voice, and when he doesn’t speak, his thoughts are just as revealing. There’s no better way to connect with readers emotionally than to sit them in the driver’s seat inside your character’s head, allowing them to sense and experience your character’s journey as if it were their own.
So now it’s your turn. Tell me. Which POV allows you to better connect with characters, first or third?
Posts in the “What I Learned Writing Darkness Eternal: Refuge Inc.” series:
image credit: [Maureen Didde]