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Laurie2
August 5th, 2008, 08:14 PM
Deep point of view, at its core is about showing the experience, or the reality of a character.

There are four basic parts that make up a character’s reality.

They are:

The character’s physical reality which includes where the character is in geographical space, and all the things that the character experiences through his or her senses. This includes the things that the character feels physically inside his or her body.

The character’s emotional reality which includes those things that the characters feel emotionally. Emotions however are tricky things in that emotions have a physical component as well as an emotional one. Feeling sad feels physically different than feeling angry or feeling joyous, so to convey the character’s emotional reality requires bringing in aspects of his or her physical reality as well.

The character’s mental reality includes those things the character thinks. Characters often have emotional and physical reactions to the things that they think as well.

The character’s spiritual reality is another aspect of their reality which comes into play in some books more than in others. Spiritual reality is typically conveyed through combinations of the other realities described with words which are related to the spiritual realm…like soul, deep, sense, belief, etc.

The key to deep point of view is combining all of the parts of the character’s reality within the scene that is being created so that the reader knows what that character’s physical reality is, what their emotional reality is, what their mental reality is and what their spiritual reality is (if it is important) throughout the story.

The trick is to be like a bird building a nest. Birds do not work with big clumps of building material. They ferret out the choicest bits. A perfect piece of hay here, a perfect twig there, a piece of grass there, a piece of twine or yarn there.

Notice I used the word perfect in describing the building materials the bird uses to build her nest? This is because the bird doesn’t throw in everything but the kitchen sink when building her nest. She chooses the most select bits and pieces and incorporates them into her design in very small quantity, and this is exactly what the author tackling deep point of view should do as well.

Many people make the mistake of thinking that deep point of view means paragraphs of introspection and description of thoughts and feelings. In reality however deep point of view can be accomplished much more strongly and without slowing the pace of the story by using just the choicest tidbits to anchor the reader in the various parts of the character’s reality.

Consider:

Example 1:

He lifted his gaze from the stack of messages he’d been sorting. The annoyance that had chewed at his midsection dissolved as he allowed his gaze to glide over her.

She was innocent. He wasn’t sure how he knew. But he did. The knowledge was there like something heavy that sat on his chest.

The knowledge that she was innocent echoed in his brain, reverberating through him and swelling within his soul. The feeling was like warm molten chocolate expanding within him, filling him with a warmth that spread from the inside outward.

The word innocent encompassed her, describing her perfectly, and yet it left plenty of room for expansion into the many layers he sensed buried within her…the sadness that tinged her eyes, the helplessness that made her seem small and cowed tore at him, and yet, damn it, he didn’t want to play.




Example 2:


He lifted his gaze from the stack of messages he’d been sorting. His annoyance at her intrusion dissolved as he allowed his gaze to glide over her.


Innocent. The single word echoed in his brain, reverberating like a sharp kick to some buried part of his soul. The descriptive encompassed her and described her perfectly, yet left plenty of room for expansion into the many layers he sensed buried beneath her surface. >>


The assessment

Notice that BOTH samples are told in deep point of view.

Notice that BOTH samples incorporate multiple aspects of the character’s reality. He lifted his gaze from the stack of messages he’d been sorting…it’s a physical action…part of his physical reality. His annoyance…part of his emotional reality. Innocent…a thought…part of his mental reality. The single word reverberating like a sharp kick to some buried part of his soul…a very light touch of his spiritual reality.

Notice that the same things happen in BOTH samples. The first example has a lot more verbiage to expound on the pieces of reality that the author has incorporated. Sometimes this is good. Other times the excess verbiage doesn’t add enough, or what it adds isn’t important enough to warrant its inclusion.

The words are pretty in the first example…but the scene is stronger in the second example. The main difference between the first and second sample is that in the first sample the author has used a heavier hand, bringing in an amount of description that in places does slow the pace of the story, making it seem to take longer until the next thing happens.

The two samples are essentially an early draft and the final draft of a couple of paragraphs from my book His Perfect Submissive, written under the pen name Alyssa Aaron. When I write in deep point of view I tend to throw in everything but the kitchen sink…and then I go painstakingly over what I’ve written (a bunch of times) and I keep just the most important portions.

The idea is to show the character’s reality as clearly as you can, but also to do it with as few words as you can so that you don’t slow the pace of the story. If too much time is spent in describing the feelings the character has the reader forgets why the feelings are important and they lose track of what is happening in the scene. For this reason, it is important to break up the thoughts, feelings, and physical descriptions with action. In this way the character is interacting with his scene while snippets of his realities are brought in. This is accomplished more strongly in the second example.

Jean Kelli
August 6th, 2008, 11:11 AM
Example 1:

He lifted his gaze from the stack of messages he’d been sorting. The annoyance that had chewed at his midsection dissolved as he allowed his gaze to glide over her.

She was innocent. He wasn’t sure how he knew. But he did. The knowledge was there like something heavy that sat on his chest.

The knowledge that she was innocent echoed in his brain, reverberating through him and swelling within his soul. The feeling was like warm molten chocolate expanding within him, filling him with a warmth that spread from the inside outward.

The word innocent encompassed her, describing her perfectly, and yet it left plenty of room for expansion into the many layers he sensed buried within her…the sadness that tinged her eyes, the helplessness that made her seem small and cowed tore at him, and yet, damn it, he didn’t want to play.


I'm reading this thinking, man this sounds so much like His Perfect Submissive (one of my favorite books I've ever read), but it isn't quite right!

Yes, as much as I got swept up in the first example, the second example was much more powerful, and delivered more of a punch--all was revealed but the pacing was not sacrificed.

I think that sometimes Literary (which too is a genre, per se!) fiction, stories can tend to be over written like example one. It depends on the point of the story, if it's written for people who love the English language and love poetry or lyricism of prose, or people who love a good story. I think if a story somehow converges and balances the two poles, that would be ideal. I do think HPS does a fine job of such:excl:

Laurie2
August 8th, 2008, 02:27 PM
Hi Kelli,

:) Yes, it is from His Perfect Submissive...but is an earlier version and then the version as published. As you can tell, the versions are pretty similar. The final version just condenses.

:) I'm glad you enjoyed His Perfect Submissive so much. :)

I don't believe that genre fiction necessarily needs to be seen as "less than" genre fiction. The authors in both genres are trying (or should be trying) to do the same thing--entertain their readers while delivering the deliverables for the specific genre. I think that in a sense good use of deep point of view technique is a bridge between more verbose literary fiction which sometimes seems to lose pacing and genre fiction in which the fast pace is often one of the deliverables of the genre.

It is judicious use of deep point of view...so that you are not describing EVERYTHING in full detail...but so that you are picking the important details (from the character's perspective) and are sharing those with the reader. Judicious use of the details makes the difference between the details adding to the experience for the reader or losing the story amongst the details.

I'm glad I managed the right balance (for you--all readers vary in what the right balance is) with His Perfect Submissive.

Given the piece that you subbed for exercise 1, which I saw previously in critique group, you have really grasped the full power of deep point of view. :) Excellent job on the exercise piece.

Laurie


I'm reading this thinking, man this sounds so much like His Perfect Submissive (one of my favorite books I've ever read), but it isn't quite right!

Yes, as much as I got swept up in the first example, the second example was much more powerful, and delivered more of a punch--all was revealed but the pacing was not sacrificed.

I think that sometimes Literary (which too is a genre, per se!) fiction, stories can tend to be over written like example one. It depends on the point of the story, if it's written for people who love the English language and love poetry or lyricism of prose, or people who love a good story. I think if a story somehow converges and balances the two poles, that would be ideal. I do think HPS does a fine job of such:excl:

Jean Kelli
August 8th, 2008, 03:51 PM
Yea! So glad I've grasped it! Thanks, Laurie! The rewarding part of this mode of writing is that it FEELS really great to write. In the past, I either would overwrite and lose my focus, or underwrite and get bored! With this mode of what I'm calling "pace conscious, deep POV," I am feeling that harmony when I write. I'm a bit slow at it but it feels good and I know I'll get faster--and it's a lot faster than overwriting at least. I also think that this is exactly the mode of writing that Stephen King operates in. He has struck a balance between overwriting and underwriting and that's why it feels so good to read his better work. "Carrie" is an excellent example.

rgraham666
August 10th, 2008, 08:13 AM
My own take on 'spiritual reality' is to call it 'ethical reality'. This is the balance on which a character decides what is right and wrong for them. It's pretty closely tied with their emotional reality.

My vampire tales are ones that emphasize 'ethical reality'. The dark drives of their nature highlight the ethical struggle that all thinking beings must deal with.

But that's just me. I'm not a very spiritual person. ;)

This workshop is giving me lots to think about, Laurie. Thanks.

Laurie2
August 11th, 2008, 10:04 AM
It definitely looks to me like you've grasped it.

I know well the feeling of writing in deep point of view...for me it feels similar to reading a good book, in that I am in that state of discovery right along with my characters. I may know broadly what they do next, but with deep point of view I discover why they do it...what they feel like when they do it.

The key to not overwriting is, I think, to make each detail important...to make each interchange important. If the viewpoint character and another character are in a scene and there is no response, emotional, mental, or physical to what is going on in the scene then the scene is not doing anything for the story...no matter how pretty the words are.

Laurie

Yea! So glad I've grasped it! Thanks, Laurie! The rewarding part of this mode of writing is that it FEELS really great to write. In the past, I either would overwrite and lose my focus, or underwrite and get bored! With this mode of what I'm calling "pace conscious, deep POV," I am feeling that harmony when I write. I'm a bit slow at it but it feels good and I know I'll get faster--and it's a lot faster than overwriting at least. I also think that this is exactly the mode of writing that Stephen King operates in. He has struck a balance between overwriting and underwriting and that's why it feels so good to read his better work. "Carrie" is an excellent example.

Laurie2
August 11th, 2008, 10:13 AM
Though what you are describing as ethical reality has some overlap with spiritual reality they are not exactly the same...at least as I am understanding your description of ethical reality.

When I refer to the character's spiritual reality I mean those things that are felt at a deep level...a level that transcends emotion and logic...though sometimes both thought and emotion is a part of a character's spiritual reality...and it is often described using both emotion and thought.

Ethical decision making can be undertaken on the bases of what one believes is right or wrong on a very logical basis or it can be undertaken on a purely emotional basis, or it can be undertaken on a combination of mental and emotional grounds. In this way it does overlap some with spiritual reality.

However, the way I was using the spiritual reality of a character relates more to their deep self...to very core beliefs and values...which need not be religious in nature. Ethics and making ethical decisions need not be part of the spiritual reality of a character, because sometimes a character's spiritual reality is described at times when no ethical decision making is required.

Laurie




My own take on 'spiritual reality' is to call it 'ethical reality'. This is the balance on which a character decides what is right and wrong for them. It's pretty closely tied with their emotional reality.

My vampire tales are ones that emphasize 'ethical reality'. The dark drives of their nature highlight the ethical struggle that all thinking beings must deal with.

But that's just me. I'm not a very spiritual person. ;)

This workshop is giving me lots to think about, Laurie. Thanks.

Mary Margaret
August 11th, 2008, 12:35 PM
If the viewpoint character and another character are in a scene and there is no response, emotional, mental, or physical to what is going on in the scene then the scene is not doing anything for the story...no matter how pretty the words are.


Laurie, do you mean that in dialogue there needs to be a sentence detailing the listener's response before he responds verbally? I thought his words could convey what he was feeling as well as thinking. MM

Laurie2
August 11th, 2008, 02:27 PM
No, Mary, I don't mean that exactly...in that I don't mean that with dialogue there needs to be a sentence detailing the listener's response before he responds verbally, though sometimes there is one...but it would slow the pace way, way, way down if you were to do it after every line of dialogue.

Dialogue is one method of showing the emotional response. The words we say and the manner in which we say them do show our emotional or mental response.

What I meant was that if you have a scene and you have the characters interacting in that scene...say they are watching a sunset...and the characters feel nothing, nothing changes, then it doesn't matter how beautiful the words are that describe the sunset. The scene itself isn't working. A scene needs to be built as an interaction between characters so that when character A acts, character B responds in some way (in the case of dialogue maybe just verbally). This sets up a spot for character A to act in response to character B's response...and on it goes. If character A acts and character B doesn't react then there is not a whole lot of set up for character A to act again. Character B could not act and character A could react to character B not reacting...but this can't go on very long. A scene needs to move the story on. There needs to be a point to the scene. It can't be just a vehicle for describing the scenery.

(And YES, I do get a lot of manuscripts in which the scene is set up purely to describe something or purely to describe some character trait.)

Clearer? I hope. :)


If the viewpoint character and another character are in a scene and there is no response, emotional, mental, or physical to what is going on in the scene then the scene is not doing anything for the story...no matter how pretty the words are.


Laurie, do you mean that in dialogue there needs to be a sentence detailing the listener's response before he responds verbally? I thought his words could convey what he was feeling as well as thinking. MM