Learn With Me #1: Deep Point of View

Okay, so this subject has been around for a few years. I’m finally learning about it now. For those of you who are like me and just getting introduced to the publishing world, deep point of view is a writing technique worth looking into. In fact, most of the books I love are written with this technique. I had no idea!

What is deep POV? I call it a third-person take on first-person point of view. It takes the style and personality of first person POV and changes the perspective to third person. My novel was written in third-person limited POV, as in limited to one or two characters. But deep POV uses that perspective and goes even further. It puts the reader inside the characters head, just like a first person novel does. I had to rewrite the opening of my novel in first person, just to completely understand it. Here’s an example from my YA novel:

Lucy’s nerves were wearing thin from all the “necessary steps” of orientation. The sidewalk teemed with people and the heat stifled Lucy so she could barely catch her breath.

Not bad in third person, but doesn’t sound very YA does it? And it doesn’t really put you in Lucy’s head.

Lucy McAllen stared at the clipboard  shoved in her face. The August air suctioned her walnut-copper hair like a wet mop to the back of her neck. How many “necessary steps” did it take to be a freshman?

This immediately puts the reader into the action. Now the reader knows a little bit about the character, and is hopefully intrigued enough to learn more. And you can almost feel the setting as the character sees it. But mostly important it takes out a lot of the “telling” that was there before. Deep POV is more about showing. It’s a great technique to learn for that reason alone.

I’m only starting to assimilate this concept. At first I only got parts of the idea. It took me a few weeks to grasp the whole thing. And I’m still learning. That’s why I’m inviting you to learn along with me. I think it’s a very powerful style of writing, and it’s worth a shot.

Here’s what I’ve learned so far:

  1. You have to get inside the character’s head. See, smell, touch the world from their perspective. Often this means using fragments or bad grammar. But if that’s how the character would talk, go for it. As long as we can still understand it.
  2. Amp up the verbs. Strong verbs are key to drawing in the reader.  Suctioned vs. clung (in the example above). Zero in vs. look. Verbs such as seem, appear, or look have no place in deep POV. That goes for thought, felt, heard, etc. They are telling verbs and take the reader out of the character’s perspective.
  3. Use questions. Most of us ask ourselves questions a thousand times a day. It’s a great way to show how a character feels about something specific, without telling. In the example above, I first told you about the “necessary steps” of her orientation. Then I showed you how she really felt about them, just by asking a question. When a character questions something, you know it’s important. If there’s something you want to emphasize, try it out in your piece. It’ll make a huge impact.
  4. Know your character. My character is an 18-year-old girl at college. Which means she technically still fits in the YA category. But her verbiage will be different from a 13-year-old, also in the YA category. Lucy is not so self-involved, but not a mature adult either. So her inner thoughts can be snappy at times, but not over the top. It’s all about finding the right balance for your character. It’s your character, so you have to give them their own voice.
  5. Read and Research. Read several books in the genre and style you like written in deep POV. Then do some research. Flip back and forth. Then try it on your own. Start with snippets at first.

Those are my thoughts on deep POV. I’ll list some great articles I found when I googled the subject.

Let me know if you have any thoughts on the subject. What are your suggestions or experiences? Don’t be shy. 🙂

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