8 Tips in Writing Deep Point of View

image by geralt
image by geralt

Whether you write in first, second, or third person, you can increase intimacy between reader and character by writing in deep point of view* (DPOV).

Tip 1: In DPOV, we see, smell, hear, feel, and taste only what the POV character (POVC) senses. We’re privy to only her thoughts.

Tip 2: DPOV is used in a POVC’s thoughts, not dialogue. The POVC’s actions and the way he experiences his surroundings are written with his POV involved. His actions and thoughts are linear; stimuli precede his reactions.

Compare:

image by geralt
image by geralt

Sam took great pleasure in his meal. He planted a heaping spoonful of corn on his plate after Ann passed him the creamed corn. He glanced up from shoveling in corn. Ann stared at him, smiling.

Ann passed Sam the creamed corn. He planted a heaping spoonful on his plate. What a feast. He sampled the mashed potatoes. Nothing could be creamier. He sank his teeth into a fried chicken breast, and closed his eyes. To die for. If only mom could cook like this. He glanced up from shoveling in corn. Ann stared at him, smiling.

Tip 3: DPOV isn’t a flow of internal monologue or using italicized direct thoughts.

Tip 4: You rarely say to yourself, I:

  • thought
  • felt
  • wondered
  • realized
  • decided
  • wished
  • hoped

So, DPOV doesn’t state these. POVCs merely do them.

Compare:

He thought Mary was mean. He wished she’d leave town, but he realized she wouldn’t. He’d avoid the battle-ax, he decided.

Mary was mean. If only she’d leave town. No way would that happen. From now on, he’d avoid the battle-ax.

Tip 5: Don’t name a feeling. Instead, give thoughts, actions, and behaviors that accompany the feeling.

Compare:

portrait-53899_1280Bob felt sad his granddaughter didn’t want to visit anymore

Bob ran his fingers over Nell’s sweet face in her school photo. Why’d she have to grow up and prefer her friends to riding the tractor with Grandpa? He pulled off his glasses and wiped away the mist that had formed on the lenses.

Tip 6: Don’t use in or with to name feelings or attitudes.

Compare:

Maud spoke harshly to the child. Jack looked at Maud with disdain.

Maud spoke harshly to the child. Jack drew himself to his full height. He arched his eyebrow, curled his upper lip, and glared at Maud. Was she getting his message? His dog had more tact than the shrew.

Tip 7: Don’t state that POVCs are using their senses.

Compare:

I heard the stairs creak. I turned toward the staircase.

The stairs creaked. I turned toward the staircase.

Tip 8: Avoid made, caused, and gave as a way of telling.

Compare:

image by Alexas_Fotos
image by Alexas_Fotos

I tiptoed into Carl’s empty bedroom. Suddenly his alarm clock sounded and made me jump. I thought I’d set off the security system.

I tiptoed into Carl’s empty bedroom. Brrring! Brrring! I jumped and spun in every direction. Had I set off the security system? No. Too close. I clamped my hand on Carl’s alarm clock.

For more examples of DPOV click the link.

Write in deep point of view & create intimacy between reader & character. Click to tweet.

What keeps you from writing in DPOV?

* I recommend Rivet Your Readers with Deep Point of View by Elizabeth Nelson.

Which Person Point of View Is Best for Your Story?

image by geralt
image by geralt

 

Person refers to how the point-of-view (POV) character tells the story—in first, second, or third person. I’ll explore the three options in deep POV (DPOV).

First Person – Using “I”

 

A character invites us into his thoughts. This character could be:

  • The protagonist
  • A supporting character who tells the story of another character.
  • Multiple characters telling parts of the story.
    • Characters share sequentially, staying within the story’s timeline.
    • Or each character tells his/her version of the same story events.

Example:

image by JasonPinaster
image by JasonPinaster

I turned the corner on Main. Alana stood at a cruiser, talking to the police. I followed the busybody to Melissa’s house and listened through the open window as Alana told her I had stolen Melissa’s passport. I ran my hand over my face. Would she believe Alana and send her buff boyfriend to kill me?

 

Analysis:

The open window seems convenient, but first person creates intimacy between the character and us, and we tend to accept what he tells us.

To learn what happened privately between Melissa and Alana, “I” had to eavesdrop.

We only know what “I” sees, hears, and believes. “I” wouldn’t naturally reveal his name or information about his looks or personality.

Melissa’s boyfriend won’t kill “I” because “I” tells the story.

Sometimes using first person, the author slips into sounding like herself. “I” is a male, and wouldn’t say buff. 

Second Person – Using “you”

 

image by PublicDomainPictures
image by PublicDomainPictures

A character tells the story addressing us directly. The author seeks to involve us as if we’re the protagonist.

Substitute “you” for “I” in the example above. First-person disadvantages apply to second person. We may also feel as if the character is demanding our attention. We’re usually ready to be emotionally involved with characters without the “you” viewpoint.

 

Second person is rarely used and seldom works for children. It’s difficult for the author to maintain throughout an entire novel.

Third Person– Using “he/she”

 

A character tells the story from a slight distance. But third person DPOV can easily provide multiple characters and their perspectives.

Example (for brevity, I’ve used some “telling”)

Scene 1 excerpt:

Karl turned the corner on Main. Alana stood at a cruiser, talking to the police. Who was the busybody getting into trouble now?

Scene 2 excerpts:

passport-881305_1280A. Melissa paced her living room. Who’d stolen her passport? Right when she needed to disappear.

B. Melissa opened the door to Alana. Lines wrinkled her forehead, and her eyes misted. Oh no. Here came bad news.

Alana blurted that Karl had stolen the passport.

Melissa’s heart sank.

Scene 3 excerpt:

Karl ordered a soda.

Melissa entered and strode to his table. “You stole my passport. I want it back.”

Karl’s heart flipped. So that’s what Alana had told the police—and Melissa. He ran his hand over his face. If he told her the truth, would she believe him or send her boyfriend to kill him?

Analysis:

We have two characters to supply information, mystery, and feelings from their perspectives. We have Karl’s name. And his death is a possibility.

How to Know Which Person to Use

 

  • Write a scene in each person option.
  • Have someone read the samples to you. Which version sounds right?
  • Send the samples to your critique partners for their feedback.
  • Experts suggest novice writers employ third person until they’re more seasoned.

First, second, and third person viewpoints—advantages and disadvantages. Click to tweet.

What person POVs do you write in and why?

3 Resources You Need to Write a Readable Novel

“Most people have no idea of the gigantic capacity we can immediately command when we focus all of our resources on mastering a single area of our lives.” —Anthony Robbins

by dave
by dave

We could drown in all the resources available to improve the writing of our novels. But we can develop three general resources that will make a big difference in the writing and readability of our books.

Resource 1: A General Writing Method from Start to End

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

We have many great writing methods to choose and study from. When I tried to incorporate several, I became overwhelmed. And sometimes confused.

I think it’s best to choose one method that fits your style and study that one method. I went with My Book Therapy’s take on the 3-Act Structure. You can find other great ones, such as Randy Ingermanson’s Snowflake Method.

I joined the people at My Book Therapy online, attended one of their week-long workshops, and purchased their manuals. I sit in on their sessions at writers’ conferences. I feel like I’m getting a good grasp of the concepts.

Of course, I learn from many varied resources, but I have my foundation in one method.

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  • Find one general writing method that fits you and study it. click to tweet

Resource 2: Teachings from Writing Experts That Will Take You Deeper

by kumarnm
by kumarnm

Once you’ve chosen a foundation method, you’ll want to go deeper.

I learned the following concepts from My Book Therapy, but going deeper has helped me round out the concepts. These spoke to me the most.

• For the hook and the inciting incident: Hooked by Les Edgerton
• For techniques and strategies: Stein on Writing by Sol Stein
• For elements characters must possess: Goal, Motivation and Conflict by Debra Dixon
• For methods to get inside main characters: Rivet Your Reader with Deep Point of View by Jill Elizabeth Nelson (See my Deep Point of View post.)

You can find many more recommended resources if you join writers groups.

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  • Once you’re comfortable with the elements of writing, go deeper. click to tweet

Resource 3: Your Arsenal of Quick References

Image courtesy of digitalart / FreeDigitalPhotos.net
Image courtesy of digitalart / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The reference sources below have been recommended repeatedly in various venues. I use them for most of my questions. Besides a click-away dictionary and thesaurus, I also have lists I’ve found online. For example, long lists of alternate words for the act of walking, pulling, etc. Lists of clichés to avoid or re-mold.

The Chicago Manual of Style put out by The University of Chicago Press. Used by many editors. I got the online version.
Grammar Girl’s Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing by Mignon Fogarty.
Polishing the “Pugs” by Kathy Ide. Punctuation, Usage, Grammar, and Spelling.
Flip Dictionary by Barbara Ann Kipfer “When you know what you want to say but can’t think of the word.”
The Positive Traits Thesaurus by Angela Ackerman & Becca Puglisi.
The Negative Traits Thesaurus by Angela Ackerman & Becca Puglisi.
Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne and David King.

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  • Build an arsenal of online or paper copy references to keep at your fingertips. click to tweet

What are the writing resources you go back to time and again?