Before we delve too deep into the techniques of successfully writing a deep POV, let’s first define what a deep POV is. Yes. I know. Some of you already know what a deep POV is. It’s first person. Right?
It’s limited knowledge, immediate action and reaction, an inside-out POV, and it’s highly biased by the character’s opinions and interpretations. This works with first person and deep third person. But just because you’re writing in these two POV’s doesn’t mean that you’ve autmatically hit your deep POV mark.
That was a very broad sweep of what deep POV is. Let’s discuss the number one thing that most authors get wrong in this POV.
Show Vs Tell
I’ve seen first person and deep third person POV’s fail because they showed…wrong.
We’ve heard for years that we need to show instead of tell. And if you’re anything like me, you’ve got every single thesaurus that Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglisi have ever made, to include the Emotional Thesaurus. This is an entire book designed to help you show emotion instead of telling it.
However, in deep POV, the only emotions you really should be showing this way are those of other characters. You can’t be in their heads because you’re in your own. How do you know when your friend, your mother, your husband or wife, your kids, or your boss is upset with you? You see it in the same ways that Angela and Becca have shown you.
But when you show your main character’s (MC’s) emotions this way, you’re pulling back and showing her from the outside.
Let me ask you. How often do you focus on what your face is doing? I mean, if you aren’t narcissistic or have a fear of how people will judge you. (No judging, by the way. If this is you, then own it.) If you’re in your comfortable environment, how often do you concentrate on your smile? Or what your eyes are doing? Or what your hands are doing?
Not often. You know why? Because you’re too busy living. Who cares about your face? Or your hands unless you’re reaching for something. Right?
In a deep POV, you’re living as your character. So, how do you “show” in deep POV if showing your emotions actually pulls you out of the deep POV?
You give your readers your MC’s viseral reactions.
From Dead Demon Die by F.J. Blooding (I granted myself permission to share this.)
Leslie nodded. “How?” Paige shook her head. “Magick? We could really use an elf right about now.” “Elves?” Leslie frowned. “Why elves?” “Because,” Paige said, heading to the fridge. “They travel through Underhill, which is…I don’t even know what. It’s underground and in an alternate dimension. Freaky weird. That’s what it is, but it works.” Her phone went off before she had a chance to grab a frozen waffle. She checked the caller ID and discovered it was Tuck. “Whiskey.” “We have a situation.” Paige frowned. “Where?” She got the address from him and headed out. Leslie headed out with her. “What’s going on?” Paige shrugged and shook her head. “We have a situation.” “That’s very informative.” “That’s what I thought.” Paige sighed as she contemplated the situation.
In this section, we are very much outside of both Paige and Leslie’s head. If I asked you who the MC was in this section, you’d have no idea. Well, you’d probably guess it was Paige because she got the call and she’s “contemplating the situation.” Now, let’s try that same dialogue piece and show it through deep POV.
Leslie nodded. “How?” Like Paige knew. Sure. She should. Everyone was looking to her to be the one to know…everything. But she was just as clueless as everyone else. “Magick? We could really use an elf right about now.” “Elves?” Leslie frowned. “Why elves?” “Because,” Paige said, heading to the fridge. “They travel through Underhill, which is…I don’t even know what. It’s underground and in an alternate dimension. Freaky weird. That’s what it is, but it works.” That was an idea, actually. If Kate could figure out how to get to Underhill, they might have a shot at keeping the town alive. Her phone went off before she had a chance to grab a frozen waffle. Great. It was Tuck. “Whiskey.” “We have a situation.” Even better. “Where?” She got the address from him and headed out. Leslie headed out with her. “What’s going on?” Paige really didn’t need an escort, even if it was her over-protective sister. “We have a situation.” “That’s very informative.” And so normal, especially lately. “That’s what I thought.”
You’ll notice a few things.
We have a deeper connection to Paige.
I didn’t show her reactions. I showed her movements as she went to fridge or headed to the door. I allowed the reader to physically react while I showed Paige’s internal responses.
Paige’s reactions and her internal dialogue aren’t in italics. It’s just the narrative. This book is literally written by Paige.
And there isn’t a lot of internal dialogue. Sure. There’s some. It’s the narrative because the book is seemingly written by Paige.
This skims the very basics of deep POV and the biggest thing I see a lot of authors getting wrong when trying to write it. Even in 1st person POV, they’ll tell me what color their own eyes are as they’re moving to see something. Which…I mean, that’s a cool trick, but come on. When you’re looking around, you’re not concentrated on looking. You simply see what you see. And you’re rarely thinking about the color of your eyes.
One more thought morsel for you
Most of my readers have no idea what color Paige’s eyes are.
And that’s good. You know why? Paige’s eye color is the same color as the reader’s because the reader is Paige.
And that is the biggest trick to deep POV.
More coming soon as we discuss a few other tips and tricks to perfecting deep POV.
In the meantime, check out Marcy Kennedy’s book, Deep Point of View (Busy Writer’s Guides Book 9). And then actually read it. Don’t try to gain the knowledge through osmosis. It never works that way.