Posted On June 14, 2013 by Print This Post

Tips on Writing Deep POV by Barbara Wallace

Nothing makes a story more intense than adding in Deep POV. Join us with Barbara Wallace today as she gives us a few helpful hints.

courage to say yes smallerConfession time. While writing this article, I’m avoiding revisions on my WIP. There’s a pivotal scene my editor wants rewritten with more emotion. The only way I can do this is by delving deeply into my tortured hero’s point of view.

Deep point of view is probably one of the most important tools in our writer’s toolbox. Sadly, it’s also one of the most difficult to master. Ten books into my career, I still have days where the concept gives me fits.

On paper, Point of View sounds easy enough. POV is the character’s perspective through which the reader sees the scene. Some authors liken it the lens of a camera. Whoever is holding the camera is the person whose view we see.

Deep point of view is when the writer immerses herself so deeply in the character’s skin that any external narrator disappears. That is, the scene is not only told from that character’s perspective, but embodies the character’s thoughts and feelings as well. In other words, it’s the ultimate in showing, not telling.

Needless to say, the deeper you delve into a character’s head, the more effectively you hone in on a scene’s emotion. Problem is, if you’re like me, the more you think about getting into a character’s head, the harder it gets. It took me a longtime to realize that good POV has an organic quality that is best created by not thinking. For the emotion to be authentic, it must be felt, not thought.

So how do we do this? How do we get so deep into our character that the thoughts and emotions flow naturally onto the page?

A few tips:

Start by eliminating phrases such as he felt and he thought. They represent author intrusion and aren’t necessary. If we’re deep enough in a character’s head, then we already know what he/she is thinking. Thus the sentence Simon felt his stomach drop becomes Simon’s stomach dropped. One of the benefits of deep POV, by the way, is that the language is far more active.

Quick caveat here: Do I mean eliminate those tags all the time? No. There are times when the tags add to the rhythm of your sentence or are simply necessary. When you’re in deep POV however, you should avoid them.

Include the psychological. We live in our heads. All of us, as we go about our daily activities, are conducting an internal monologue. Sometimes they are long, introspective passages. Sometimes they are simply passing thoughts. Your character will have thoughts about the action taking place. He/she will have an emotional reaction. Share those thoughts to add depth to the POV. For example:

Weekend Agreement coverSo do I,” Delilah replied. The desire she caught in his stare gave her hope. He wanted her. That had to mean something, didn’t it? (Note too how the stare gave her hope, she didn’t feel hope. Remember – deep POV is active)

Incorporate the senses. In deep point of view, we experience what the character experiences. We smell the smells, feel the same textures, we feel the same emotions. Here are a couple examples: Those eyes widened, and arousal, that blessed precursor to forgetting, began curling through him. Her warm touch soothed his soul in a way the whiskey couldn’t. Or lastly, He stood at the water’s edge, enjoying the way the frozen mist sleet stung his cheeks, like tiny shards of glass kissing his skin.

And lastly….

Try drafting the scene in the first person. By their very nature, first person narratives are told in deep point of view. They have to be as all the action is experienced in some way by the narrator. If there is a scene you know must be powerful in emotion, writing in first person will allow to embrace the character’s emotions and create that organic flow you need to make an impact. You won’t have to stop and think whether the character felt a shiver or a tremble or wonder what they are thinking at the moment. He/she will tell you. As a result, the emotions on the page will sound far more authentic. By the way, if you’re uncomfortable doing an actual scene, try having the character write a letter or a journal entry. You’ll get the same impact. Note: Don’t forget to transpose your scene back into third person when you do the final version!

And with that last tip, my procrastination time comes to an end. This complex topic could be talked about for days and my tips barely skimmed the surface. I wish I could tell you I’m a POV expert and that mastering deep POV is as easy as I made it sound. But I’d be lying. Hopefully, however, my little tips will make things a bit easier.


Do you have questions regarding point of view? Is there a method you use for getting deep into your characters’ heads? Let’s all work to master this difficult subject together.

Join us on Monday for Nicole Flockton and Building your Thick Outer Skin


Bio: Barbara Wallace writes for both Harlequin’s Romance and Entangled Publishing.  Her books include Weekend Agreement and the upcoming, The Courage to Say Yes (available for pre-order now), as well Billionaire Matchmaker, an anthology featuring Shirley Jump, Susan Meier and Jackie Braun releasing in September.  Her books are considered heartwarming, emotional reads  (so she must have deep POV down a little bit).  Most days, you can find her chatting on Twitter or Facebook.  She loves chatting and hopes you’ll follow her.

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31 Responses to “Tips on Writing Deep POV by Barbara Wallace”

  1. Some neat little tricks. And a subject that comes at the best moment, as I am struggling to write my WiP first scene. Deep POV would be perfect for the emotional charge of the scene. I’ll be trying your tips today.

    Posted by MC Houle | June 14, 2013, 6:26 am
  2. I’ve been waiting for this post. I’ve picked up on Tip #1 but hadn’t thought about the others.

    Thanks for writing Barbara!

    Posted by Abbi Wilder | June 14, 2013, 6:39 am
    • In the spirit of completely honesty, Number 3 was inspired by a Jo Beverly workshop. She was talking about letters and diaries in terms of historical research and suddenly said “Hey, I bet if you’re stuck on a scene, writing it out as a letter from your character would work wonders!” (Which is why she is in the RWA Hall of Fame.)

      Posted by Barbara Wallace | June 14, 2013, 10:11 am
  3. Hi Barbara,

    I’ve noticed more books are written in first person. I wonder if the author wanted to based on deep POV.

    Mary Jo

    Posted by Mary Jo Burke | June 14, 2013, 7:33 am
  4. Hi, Barbara. Great post!

    Deep POV is sometimes a killer. I think it took me a long time to actually figure out what it was, but once I did, it became a little easier.

    I have a scene now that I’m skipping over because it’s a high emotion scene that I know has to be done in deep POV and I’m not ready to tackle it. 🙂 I may need a few days off after that scene. LOL.

    Thanks for a fantastic post!

    Posted by Adrienne Giordano | June 14, 2013, 8:49 am
  5. Deep third is hard. I write first person POV in most of my books, which is very easy… and yes, deep. But when I try to write in third, I don’t feel like I can ever get as close. I can’t get inside the skin of the character the same way. There’s just that one degree of difference between I and she, you know?

    Thanks for the tips. 🙂

    Posted by Jenna Bennett | June 14, 2013, 8:56 am
  6. Morning Barbara….

    I’ve been working really hard on deep POV….=) removing the ‘felt’ ‘thought’ and more from the paragraphs..and it’s HARD. Deep POV requires a lot more effort! =) But it’s worth it in the long run…

    Thanks so much for a great post!


    Posted by Carrie Spencer | June 14, 2013, 9:12 am
  7. Great post. Deep POV works so well in romance because it lets readers fall in love with the characters instead of watch them fall in love, puts them right down into the world and action.
    He thought and he felt are the tip of the iceberg. There’s also he saw, he heard, he smelled, tasted, noticed, looked.
    For me, the mind senses like he thought are sometimes the toughest. He knew, wondered, decided, realized, recognized, remembered…
    And all of them can be tricky because so many words can stand for the sense we’re writing about. In the first example,”The desire she caught in his stare gave her hope.” She caught=she saw. It makes readers imagine her seeing instead of imagine what she sees–eyes filled with desire. To get it deeper, I’d rephrase something like: Delilah found hope in the desire lighting his stare.
    Hope that helps.

    Posted by Penny | June 14, 2013, 1:29 pm
    • Penny – you’re absolutely right! Avoiding those words would make it deeper. (See, told you I’m still struggling with it) Thanks for stopping by

      Posted by Barbara Wallace | June 14, 2013, 6:29 pm
      • Glad it helped. I thought of another tip for deeper pov. Glances, gazes, expressions, and little things like nods should be from non-pov characters unless the pov character is intentionally making a face. Those are things we aren’t usually aware of when we do. Like I can’t count how many photos of me with a goofy expression have been captured, and I wouldn’t have worn one if I’d realized it. If we’re seeing through the PC’s eyes, we should see more what’s around him and less of him.

        Posted by Penny | June 14, 2013, 6:58 pm
  8. Thanks for a great post, Barbara! Deep POV is easy to spot but hard to write, in my experience. I think I’m finally getting the hang of it, but I can always use more help! I’ve bookmarked this and I know I’ll be referring to it often.

    Posted by Becke Martin Davis | June 14, 2013, 3:42 pm
  9. Hello, Barbara!

    I’ve tried jotting down my character’s emotions in first person before switching to third and it does help! My favorite romances are those written almost entirely in deep POV.

    Thanks for the fabulous tips. Great to have you with us today!

    Posted by Jennifer Tanner | June 14, 2013, 4:51 pm
  10. My first book is written in first person. But for my later books I wanted to switch to third person. So glad I discovered Rivet Your Readers with Deep Point of View by Jill Elizabeth Nelson. Such a great resource. In fact, I need to re-read it before starting my next novel. Thanks for the great post!

    Posted by Reese Ryan | June 14, 2013, 5:53 pm
  11. Thanks for the tips. No matter how hard I try, when I go back and revise I always find so many ‘she felt, she saw, she heard…” Then it takes me a few minutes to figure out how to word it to be deeper.

    Posted by kari lemor | June 14, 2013, 6:32 pm
  12. Same here Kari. Same here.

    Posted by Barbara Wallace | June 14, 2013, 7:19 pm
  13. Sometimes my email backs up so much I’m coming in WEEKS behind schedule. As is the case here. lol

    I really wanted to comment on this, despite the length of time, because I think you’ve hit the nail on the head here. Oftentimes I’ve struggled to find different ways to draw the deep POV out of some of the characters I’m editing and without maintaining that very intimate connection with the character, as a reader/editor/author I’m left feeling cheated out of something unqiue….a chance to BE that character.

    This was hands down the best advice I’ve heard in a long time for how to achieve, and I gotta say, I’m so going to use this for now on… “Try drafting the scene in the first person.”

    Very nice post, and a great read. Thanks for sharing!


    Posted by DC Stone | July 1, 2013, 3:31 pm
  14. Loved this article! Very informative and useful, but now you need to get back to that emotional scene you’re putting off. You rocked this post, you can rock your WIP!!
    Have a great day 🙂

    Posted by Tamara LeBlanc | August 5, 2013, 7:18 am
  15. This: He wanted her. Is still telling, imop.

    Posted by . | January 21, 2017, 9:31 am


  1. […] Deep point-of-view. […]

  2. […] Needless to say, the deeper you delve into a character’s head, the more effectively you hone in on a scene’s emotion. …good POV has an organic quality that is best created by not thinking. For the emotion to be authentic, it must be felt, not thought.” Tips on Writing Deep POV by Barbara Wallace. Romance University June 2013 […]

  3. […] Needless to say, the deeper you delve into a character’s head, the more effectively you hone in on a scene’s emotion. …good POV has an organic quality that is best created by not thinking. For the emotion to be authentic, it must be felt, not thought.” Tips on Writing Deep POV by Barbara Wallace. Romance University June 2013 […]

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