Dos and Don’ts for Writing Deep POV

We all want to immerse our readers into our story worlds and have them experience the story first hand. We love books where we forget we are reading and get lost in the story. But how do we create such an experience? One way is by using Deep POV. Deep POV is a technique that allows us to get inside the head of our POV character, creating an emotional connection between readers and that character. It also works to erase any insertion of the author into the story. When done correctly, Deep POV allows your reader to get lost in the character and storyline. So what are some dos and don’ts for Deep POV? Let’s take a look.
Dos

  • Show, don’t tell. Cut out filtering words that distance the narration and show author intrusion. Cut words like saw, thought, felt, heard, knew, etc. Don’t tell what your character is feeling, show them feeling it.
  • You must know your POV character inside and out. In order to get into your character’s head you have to know their thoughts and feelings. You need to understand their personality, motivations, goals, relationship, and history. Not all of this backstory will go into your story, most of it shouldn’t, but you need this information, as an author, to write three-dimensional characters and their POVs.
  • Limit your character’s knowledge. Writing from one POV means you can only show what that character knows, sees, hears, etc. They can’t read the minds of other characters. Only show what your POV character knows.
  • Use all five senses to write vivid imagery. Your reader will be completely immersed in your character’s head, so be sure to paint the picture for your readers. Using all five senses will help round out your scene. Also weave in emotions to fill out each scene.

Don’ts

  • Don’t name your characters’ feelings. Don’t say she was frightened, show her breaking out into a sweat and her mouth going dry. Don’t say he was bored, show him slumped in his chair, eyes skyward.
  • Avoid passive voice. Passive voice is when the object of a sentence becomes the subject. So instead of “John drove the car” (active voice), we have “the car was driven by John” (passive). Passive voice slows down your story and adds distance to the narrative. Still confused about how to identify it? If you can add “by zombies” to the end of a sentence and have it make sense, it’s written in passive.
  • Don’t head hop. You should be writing from one character’s POV at a time. So your readers get one character’s thoughts, feelings, and knowledge. Delineate switches in POV by scene or line breaks.

An example of writing not using Deep POV:

Andrea wondered what was taking Eric so long. She fidgeted as she waited. She grew more afraid the longer she waited. She knew he was always late, but she had hoped he would take this more seriously. She peered down the long hall, letting out a deep breath.

Now in Deep POV:

What’s taking him so long? Andrea tugged at the hem of her shirt for the hundredth time. She blew her bangs out of her face and checked the time. He should have been here by now. She wiped her sweaty palms on her jeans, shuddering from a sudden chill. She tried to swallow past the lump in her throat. Eric was always late, but this was important. So where was he? She peered down the long hall, letting out a deep breath.

Notice I removed the words wondered, afraid, and knew. I replaced them with direct thoughts and descriptions that showed her emotions instead of telling them. Using Deep POV you can help your reader connect with your POV characters and get lost in your story world. Which books that used Deep POV are your favorites? Do you struggle with writing Deep POV? Comment below and happy writing.

Julia

Follow my column at Our Write Side and Twitter for more writing tips and inspiration. Find me on Facebook for weekly prompts and stories.

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Writing Strong Emotional Scenes

We read books to go on an emotional journey and love the stories best where they make us feel something. We connect to the characters and what they’re experiencing. We love books that make us laugh and cry and feel everything in between. But writing those emotional scenes is difficult and can be downright scary to attempt. After all what if what we write is laughable? So how do we write strong emotional scenes? Let’s take a look at some tips.

No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader. You have to be emotionally engaged in your writing for your readers to have an emotional response. Imagine yourself in your character’s shoes. How would you feel? How would you react? What would you feel?

Have a central emotion. Your writing should have emotional layers (more on that in a bit), but it should be built off one main emotion. Each emotional response will be filtered through this central emotion. This will help you to have focus. For instance, your character may be working with anger. They may also feel fear and shame, but those are filtered through their anger response.

Show, don’t tell. Use your characters’ actions and dialogue to paint the picture. Is he clenching his jaw? Is she tugging at her hem, eyes down? What does this tell us about what they’re feeling? And let your descriptions set the mood for your setting and in each scene.

Avoid the melodrama. Your characters shouldn’t literally jump for joy or break down sobbing at every little thing. This will induce eye rolls in your reader and they may put down your book for good. No one likes a drama queen. Especially not for 200 pages. Not everyone reacts in the extreme and as the writer you must know how each character reacts to each plot point. Employ subtlety and paint your emotions with a finer brush.

Use subtext. Sometimes what your characters don’t say is more important than what they do say. Use subtext to portray emotions as well.

Don’t skip these scenes. You cheat your reader by skipping over big emotional scenes. These scenes matter and even though they may be scary to write, they’re vital to your character’s journey.

Now let’s talk about layering emotions using the example of anger, fear, and shame we mentioned earlier. Begin with your central emotion. So your character feels the heat of anger flushing his face. We see him clenching his jaw and glaring at the antagonist. But maybe he’s angry because the antagonist hit upon his insecurities, that he’s not good enough to be fighting with his friends, that he’s flawed. Our character then feels a flash of fear. What if the antagonist is right? Sweat breaks out on his neck. Then he feels shame hit him like a load of bricks. His stomach drops and his heart starts pounding. But all these feelings feed into his anger. Adding these feelings adds complexity and realism to your story.

Emotional scenes may be intimidating to write, but can be the best scenes in your whole story. Don’t shy away from them. What are your favorite emotional scenes? What made them so good? Comment below and happy writing!

Julia

Follow my column at Our Write Side and Twitter for more writing tips and inspiration. Find me on Facebook for weekly prompts and stories.