When you think of your story as viewed through a camera lens, you’re in effect trying to translate what you imagine to the page. Yet many writers still insist on keeping the camera “zoomed out,” making reader sympathies harder to generate and keep.Where you set the camera can make a big difference in how your reader responds.
Writing Tip for Today: Using DEEP POV helps your reader form a bond with your character by keeping the camera close. You can use it with third person or first person POV. Here’s how to use camera angles to achieve Deep POV:
- Closeups for Important Moments. Just like in the movies, important moments in a story generally are close-ups. The audience wants to share in the character’s emotions. In fiction you achieve the sense of the camera in close up by eliminating “filtered consciousness,” that is, cutting most references not to what the character sees, hears, thinks, etc, but the act of seeing hearing and thinking. Thus, “She saw the cloud of dust on the horizon,” becomes simply, “A cloud of dust rolled over the horizon.” We are already positioned in the character’s head and we don’t need reminding that she is seeing or hearing or thinking.
- Zoom Out for the Less Important. I was going to say zoom out for the boring parts, but no writer ever thinks a word they’ve written is boring. When you are writing a transitional passage, use narration to “zoom out.” Summarizing (narration, or telling) as a way to get from this time to that time or from place to place lets the reader quickly go to the next “closeup.” During narration the emotions are subtle and the main goal is to get to the next close up. EX: For the next three days she worried about the livestock. We still get emotion, but it’s not up close and personal as before.
- Words to Cut. If you’re new to Deep POV, I encourage you to experiment. Cut out words that keep the reader zoomed out. Words that signal “filtered consciousness” include: She knew, she felt, he thought, he wondered, she saw, she noticed, he realized, she heard, and more. Some sensory info is a bit more difficult to put into Deep POV: He smelled smoke can only be written a couple of ways, and may end up sounding clunkier than a simple declarative statement. But most of the time, Deep POV will bring your character and your reader closer, precisely the effect you’re looking for in your fiction. Try it!