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.
Confession 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:
“So 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.
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.