What adds depth to your characters and pulls the reader into the story? Heatherly Bell explains the advantages of writing in deep POV.
Great to have you with us, Heather!
As an avid lifelong reader, for years I’ve long noticed a preference to certain authors but never understood why. Many readers are similar and can’t necessarily pinpoint what draws them into a story. I’d be willing to bet that most of the time it’s because the author has mastered the art of deep POV (point of view).
Deep POV puts us in the character’s head, so we can experience everything exactly as the protagonist does. It removes the fictional distance between the reader and the protagonist. Suddenly, we can’t help but care deeply when our heroine is stood up at the altar or when she loses her job. It feels like it just happened to us!
But if you had asked me about deep POV when I first started writing for publication, I’d have given you a blank stare. I’d have said that I didn’t know anything about that alphabet soup branch of the government. Deep POV – you mean like Jack Ryan from The Patriot Games? Not at all, I found out. However, “undercover” is not a bad way to think of POV.
Over the years, I learned about first person POV, third person limited POV and omniscient POV. You’ll find plenty of articles on POV, but not as much on deep POV. I think that’s possibly because deep POV crosses over into characterization and even dialogue.
As the wonderful author Christie Craig says in her article on Deep POV:
Make sure that every word on the paper is filtered through the character’s thoughts, emotions, and senses.
Deep POV can be unique and distinctive and demonstrate who your character is at their core. It can be used in all elements of writing: narrative descriptions, dialogue, internal dialogue and emotional responses.
Here’s an example from one of my favorite authors Kristan Higgins in her book, The Perfect Match:
“Tom had already had one glass of whiskey and was working on the second when the front door opened, and his fiancée came in. That suit didn’t do anything for her perfectly acceptable figure (which was quite nice, now that he thought of it). Plain navy blue skirt and jacket, white shirt, distressingly sensible shoes. The little rat-dog’s head was visible in her purse.”
To me, this is a perfect example of using a narrative description threaded through deep POV. Tom is British and he “sounds” British to me in this excerpt. I doubt that this description would sound the same coming from anyone else but Tom Barlow, who is about to marry Honor to be able to stay in the United States.
With deep POV you can give each of your characters a unique “voice”. We’re obviously not going to hear the same dialogue expressed from an 80-year-old grandfather as we would from a 25-year-old woman. Neither will we “hear” the same internal thoughts and emotional responses.
Here are some before and after samples of POV:
BEFORE: He crept up the stairs, the creak of old wood threatening to wake the old girl. He could see the gun resting by her rocking chair.
AFTER: He crept up the stairs, hoping the creak of the old wood wouldn’t wake the old girl. For the love of God, was that a gun resting by her rocking chair? Maybe the wisest course of action would be to turn around and go back the way he’d come.
(I love this example, because the reaction to the gun by the chair will show you a lot about the individual character – and that reaction should be different based on if your character is a woman, or say, ex-military.)
BEFORE: Kristi sighed. His bored reaction was typical of every guy she’d ever met. He wouldn’t stick around for long now. She should never have told him the truth.
AFTER: Kristi sighed. His reaction seemed to register a ten on the boredom scale: are you still here? Typical. One of these days she’d learn to keep her mouth shut. She’d give the guy two, three days tops before he’d be long gone.
As with anything, there are exceptions. I’ve read many great books that don’t employ the use of deep POV, and still tell a wonderful story. Deep POV is just one of many tools available to us as writers.
Does deep POV draw you into a story or can you take it or leave it?
UNTIL THERE WAS YOU – March 2015
Genevieve Hannigan has loved her big brother’s best friend, Wallace Turlock, for as long as she can remember. When he never noticed her, she settled for Wallace 2.0. With her disastrous two month marriage behind her, Gen knows that nothing but the original Wallace will do. But G enevieve’s ex-husband is back in town with hopes to reconcile, and things are about to get complicated …
ANYWHERE WITH YOU – Kailey Robbins hears the news that Joe Hannigan has crashed his plane on a mushroom farm, all she wants is a second chance with the man she almost lost. But Kailey left Joe once before … can he trust that she means to stay forever this time?
ANYWHERE WITH YOU is the fourth book of Heatherly’s Starlight Hill series. It will be part of the boxed set Small Town Summer releasing July 14th with authors Terri Osburn, Jamie Farrell, Liz Flaherty, Regina Kyle, Amy Lamont, Stefanie London, Megan Ryder, and Rebecca Thomas.
Bio: When early onset stage fright dashed dreams of Rock and Roll Hall of Fame status, Heatherly Bell tackled her first book in 2010, and now the people and voices that occupy her head refuse to leave. She no longer sings unless you count randomly bursting into song to annoy her children (and the dogs).
If she were not an author, Heatherly maintains she would be a detective and a criminal’s worst nightmare. She watches Dateline every Friday night and takes notes.
Heatherly lives in northern California with her family, including two beagles, one who can say ‘hello’ and the other who can feel a pea through several pillows. To learn more about Heatherly, visit her website or connect with her on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads.
What’s next? On Friday, May 29th, Laurie Schnebly Campbell presents: The Million-Dollar Apple
- Like a Virgin: My First Time at Nationals by Heatherly Bell
- Tips on Writing Deep POV by Barbara Wallace
- Weekly Lecture Schedule May 25-29
- Part One: Reflections on My First Year as an Indie Author – by Heatherly Bell
- Author Cross Promotion: Getting By With a Little Help From My Friends – by Heatherly Bell and Amy Lamont