Before I was published, I used to enter a lot of contests. One of the first contests I entered, a judge said I needed to learn to write in deep point of view. I had never heard of it and had to look it up. I have to say, that is some of the best writing advice I have ever gotten.
Writing in deep point of view is not for the lazy. Not only is the concept difficult to master, scenes written in deep point of view also take longer to write, often requiring more words. But the result is well worth the extra effort. Deep point of view lets the reader experience the story through the eyes of the POV character. It adds sparkle to that character’s voice and gives the writing emotional punch.
The first step in deepening point of view is to fully know your characters. What do they want more than anything? What do they feel strongly about? What are their goals, motivations and conflicts? What about quirks, things that make them unique and memorable? Don’t just write about the character; become the character. (Click to Tweet)
Here are some tips for deepening point of view:
Eliminate “telling” words and phrases. These are words like thought, felt, saw, heard, wondered, decided, realized, and phrases like was sure and was determined. All of these words and phrases distance the reader from the POV character, because the author is intruding on the story, telling what the character is experiencing. Instead of “He heard a gunshot,” try “A shot rang through the air.” Instead of “She felt sick,” try “Nausea churned in her gut.” Instead of “She was determined not to fall for him again,” try “No way was she going to fall for that dark charm again.”
Try to describe emotions rather than naming them. This isn’t to say that you will never name an emotion, but showing the character feeling and acting is much more powerful. Abstract words don’t evoke emotion. When describing an emotion, consider its physical effects on the body, the actions and behaviors of someone experiencing it, and thoughts in keeping with that particular emotion.
In Out for Justice, the heroine, a homicide detective discovers that the latest victim of a serial killer is her cousin. Telling her reaction using a shallow point of view, we would say, “Lexi was shocked and horrified.” In deep point of view, the reader instead experiences those emotions with Lexi:
Lexi shook her head. The ground seemed to tilt beneath her and she took a stumbling step backward to steady herself. A scream of protest clawed its way up her throat, followed by a wave of nausea that almost brought her to her knees.
Alan’s words finally penetrated her befuddled brain, several seconds too late.
“Lexi, it’s Kayla.”
Try to eliminate dialogue tags as much as possible. By their very nature, dialogue tags (he said, she whispered, etc.) are “telling.” Action and emotion beats show the reader not only who is speaking but also what that character is thinking, feeling and doing. Instead of “talking heads,” we have real flesh-and-blood characters. In the following snippet of conversation from Trust My Heart, the action and emotion beats give the reader insight into the characters that simple tags wouldn’t.
She picked up her coffee cup and washed the Danish down with a loud slurp. “So you’re single? No wife? No girlfriend?”
He cocked a brow at the intrusion into his privacy. But something told him this fiery-haired Bernie wasn’t much for convention.
“I’m not married.” He’d made that mistake once. Two years and a quarter of a million dollars later, he was once again single.
“Don’t worry, you’re still young.” She gave his hand a couple of pats. “You’ve got plenty of time.”
He stifled a snort. Thirty wasn’t exactly young. And if single was an ailment, he wasn’t looking for a cure.
Incorporate sensory details. Showing what a character is seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting and feeling is one of the most effective ways to immerse a reader into a scene. Choose two or three vivid details, but make sure they are things the character would reasonably notice at that time. Here is the beginning of a scene from Hidden Identity that incorporates the senses of sight and hearing.
Time moved at a snail’s pace.
Meagan sighed and dropped her gaze from the clock on the wall to the book of poetry lying open in her lap. Voices buzzed around her, and across the room, a mother tried to quiet a crying baby.
A half page later, the hero appears, and we have the senses of smell, sound and touch.
A familiar scent wafted toward her, the faintest hint of evergreen, tipped with spice. Her thoughts tumbled over one another.
“Mind if I interrupt your reading?” The voice close to her ear was liquid smooth, sending goose bumps cascading over her.
For more information on this topic, Kathrese McKee, author and editor, offers a great resource. She has written an amazing booklet titled Mastering Deep POV, which takes a passage, sentence by sentence, and transforms it from shallow to deep point of view. She offers the booklet free to all her newsletter subscribers. You can find her at http://www.wordmarkeredits.com/.
Now go back through your current work in progress and see how deep you can go. Reach into the heart of your character and tap into all that emotion. And step out of the way. Your reader will remember your story and characters long after THE END.
From medical secretary to court reporter to property manager to owner of a special events decorating company, Carol J. Post’s resume reads as if she doesn’t know what she wants to be when she grows up. But one thing that has remained constant through the years is her love for writing. She currently pens fun and fast-paced inspirational romance and romantic suspense stories. Her books have been nominated for a RITA® award and an RT Reviewers’ Choice Best Book Award.
Carol lives in sunshiny Central Florida with her husband, who is her own real-life hero, and writes her stories under the shade of the huge oaks in her yard. Besides writing, she works alongside her music minister husband singing and playing the piano. She enjoys sailing, hiking, camping—almost anything outdoors. Her two grown daughters and grandkids live too far away for her liking, so she now pours all that nurturing into taking care of a fat and sassy black cat and a highly spoiled dachshund.
Connect with Carol at her website, www.caroljpost.com, Facebook (www.facebook.com/caroljpost.author), or Twitter (www.twitter.com/caroljpost). For regular updates, sign up for Carol’s newsletter (http://bit.ly/2dKK9CE)
Grant McAllister arrives in Murphy, North Carolina, with one aim: to sell his inherited property and leave as quickly as possible. The big-city lawyer has no interest in his late, estranged grandparents or the dilapidated mansion he just acquired. After his high-profile divorce, he should be avoiding perky reporters, too. But Jami Carlisle is honest, funny, and undeniably appealing.
After breaking up with her safe-but-smothering boyfriend, Jami is determined to ace her first big assignment. A story about the McAllister estate is too intriguing to ignore—much like its handsome, commitment-phobic heir. Thanks to her digging, the pieces of Grant’s fraught family history are gradually fitting into place, but also upending all his old beliefs.
The two draw closer as they share their dreams, until misread signals and misunderstandings begin to test their trust. But in the unspoiled beauty of the Smoky Mountains, there’s healing and forgiveness to be found. And for Grant, this unplanned detour may be just what’s needed to finally guide him home…