Conquering Deep POV in Novel Writing
Updated: Nov 16, 2022
Have you ever read a story where you were so close to the character you felt like you were in their skin? You felt their pain. Happiness. You understood their goals, struggles, and journey. That, my friend, is deep POV. And, in my opinion, novel writing at its finest.
Let’s first define the meaning of deep POV. In novel writing, it’s the POV where the narrator takes on the voice of the character and where the reader is deeply immersed in the character’s thoughts and feelings. The reader is riding so close to the character(s), they feel as though they are one. We know their attitude, perception of the world, sensations, and inner dialogue. We become them!
Take a read of this piece written in first person POV:
A loud snap of a branch caused my heart to leap into my throat, and I stumbled on bramble from the path where I’d been walking. Nobody should be in these woods at this hour. I yelled into the darkness. “Who’s there?”
Now, take a read of the same piece written in deep POV:
A loud snap jarred the silent forest. I spun around, kicking up pine needles. My heart leaped into my throat, and I drop flat to the ground. Flashes of the war clouded my mind like explosions of dry dirt. My stomach and chest knot, my whole body an open wound. I looked around. I’m in Minnesota. Home. Iraq is halfway around the world. The fear recedes. “Who’s there?”
Notice the difference? I didn’t tell the reader the POV character was scared, I showed what fear felt like to that character, IN THE MOMENT. Emotions, raw and unfiltered, is what makes deep POV so powerful.
When writing in deep POV it helps us to eliminate narrative filter words, showing us the reaction rather than narrating the scene. Ultimately, we removed the author/narrator voice summarizing the events in this rewrite. And we gave the reader a peek into WHY the character responded without a backstory dump that interrupts the purpose of the scene.
Should first person always be written in deep POV? In my opinion, yes. And so should limited third person point of view. Reason being, in third person limited pov you are focusing on one point of view at a time, so bring the reader closer to your characters on an intimate level. You are already seeing the world through their eyes, so take it deeper—help us understand what makes them tick, what motivates them to behave the way they do.
Pro Tip: Not only does deep POV provide a direct, intense, and intimate reading experience, but it also gives your character a fully developed arc.
Deep POV immerses the in-real-time experience, appropriately removing the narrative distance from the page and places it within the character. That, darlings, is the magic of deep POV!
Strap on that safety belt, wordsmiths, and fuel your creativity. Time to #CreateYourEpic!