Deep Point of View: How and When to Use it Effectively
By Tambra Kendall
Deep Point of View (POV) is close third person, a combination of first and third person omniscient. It is driven by the character's experiences and emotions.
When using deep penetration POV you see the scene through the character's eyes. You never leave his/her thoughts. Deep penetration is similar to first person giving the motivation behind an action. The character's attitude, at that moment is shown, not a memory of his/her feelings as they look back on what happened.
Deep POV is more than filling your story with internalization.
From The Elements of Fiction Writing Characters and Viewpoint by Orson Scott Card he describes deep POV: "Deep penetration is intense 'hot' narration; no other narrative strategy keeps the reader so closely involved with the character and the story. But the viewpoint character's attitude is so pervasive that it can become annoying or exhausting if carried too far, and the narrative isn't terribly reliable, since the viewpoint character may be misunderstanding or misjudging everyone he meets and everything that happens."
Card says that no one level of POV penetration will be right for the whole story. There needs to be a balance. You need to know when "hot" narration is needed and when to "cool" the scene with light POV penetration.
Deep POV is more than filling your story with internalization. Too much internalization can become a form of telling, slow the pace of the story and unravel tension.
Gina from the RWA Craft loop explained deep POV to me in this way: Check to see if your dialogue, tone of voice, body language, facial expression, inner body response, and/or physical reaction shows what is being told.
Anne Frazier Walradt taught this in a workshop for RWA in 2002. Her suggestions began with Show, Don't Tell: Stay out of your character's head. Since I'm a visual learner Anne's tips made all the other posts clearer. She wrote:
- Remove filtering devices such as s/he thought, decided, saw, watched, etc. They put a distance between the reader and the POV character. Once POV is established, you don't have to keep reminding the reader that they're experiencing the story through the POV character's eyes.
- Describe things how the POV character would describe them.
- In deep POV, a character wouldn't use her own name when referring to herself. Nor would she, except in very few cases call her parents by their whole names. A deep POV character's narration should contain thoughts that are natural to that character, and what is seen and described should only be things that character would notice.
Author Terri Prizzi says writing deep POV effectively means you must know your character very well since all things are filtered through the character's eyes and emotions. Gender, education level, life experiences all will impact how your character views the world. The fact that the character comments on anything should be a clue about this character.
- Insert the picture in your head into the head of your reader by reporting action and dialogue.
- Engage the reader by showing her the scene and awakening in her the emotions that your characters feel.
- Abstract words do not evoke in us the emotion they describe. They merely tell. "
lace w:st="on"> Nancylace> was scared. Terrified actually." To evoke the emotion you must create the sensory details that make it read vivid, authentic. >>
- Document the effect of the emotion on the character. (Her hands shook) The scene must be seen by the readers.
- The character isn't thinking about her feelings ("Oh, I'm so much in love.") She's thinking about what's causing her feelings. (I love his hand on my.whatever.")
- Your job is to convey the emotion by the meticulous choice of specific details that will evoke emotion in your reader.
Learning how to write deep POV takes some practice, but when used in the right way it will keep your readers turning the pages.
Tambra Kendall joined RWA in 1994. She grew up reading historicals. Her favorites are Scottish and Medieval. Today she combines her love of all things Celtic with the love of paranormal.
Copyright © 2005 Tambra Kendall. All rights reserved. Used with permission.