I admit I didn’t know what the term “deep POV” referred to until I read an article by one of my colleagues. I discovered I’ve been calling it by a different term, “the observing consciousness.” Writing Tip for Today: Whatever you choose to call it, here’s the lowdown on Deep POV:
- Whose Eyes? In any POV, first person (I) or third person (he, she, they), you want the reader to experience the scene as if he/she is looking out through that POV character’s eyes. Reader sees what character does, sees, hears, tastes, touches, smell or thinks. The writer gives information about the scene ONLY through that character’s point of view. Thus, if two opposite characters engage in an argument, Character A can know her own thoughts and feelings, but can only infer or surmise the other character’s thoughts and feelings through interpreting that character’s body language, dialogue or actions. When a POV character interprets another’s thoughts or feelings, use “seem,” “as if he,” “might have” or some other qualifier that shows the reader we’re still in Character A’s head, making assumptions about the other character.
- Deep, Deep, Deep. To move past regular point of view (POV) into Deep POV, you omit the kinds of things we don’t observe about ourselves when we interact with others. In other words, “I watched the toddler taking her first steps,” becomes, “The toddler took her first steps.” “She heard the far away rumble of thunder,” becomes, “Thunder rumbled in the distance.” “He saw her take money out of her purse,” becomes, “She took money out of her purse.” Instead of “She felt the green grass,” try, “The grass was soft under her feet.” The thing to remember is that when we move through life, we don’t stop to say, “Gee I’m watching this,” “feeling that” or “hearing something,” you just watch it, feel it or hear it. By eliminating these markers of the character observing herself, the camera moves closer and the reader enjoys a more intimate relationship with the character.
- Sensory Weirdness. Perhaps an exception can be made for smell. Sometimes you can write, “The aroma of fresh bread wafted through the room as Joe sat in the cafe.” Other times it makes more sense to say, “I smelled smoke.” Taste can be tricky too. “The broccoli tasted like old gym socks.” is perfectly acceptable.
- Send me your questions about POV and I’ll try to answer. Next: Second Person POV: When should you dare to use it?