I love reading stories with deep POV. Nothing is more effective at pulling me into a story. So what is deep POV and how can you recognize if someone is using it? More importantly, how, when and why should you employ deep POV?
Deep POV is a technique of drawing your reader further into your story. You eliminate author intrusion (i.e. telling) by putting yourself (and the reader) in the character’s skin. The reason this is so effective is that the longer a reader spends in a character’s skin, the more they come to care for him. It’s the reason why the hero is generally introduced right away in a romance; we tend to become attached to the characters we know the best.
So what are some tips for employing deep POV?
- Stay in one character’s POV for as long as possible. This goes back to getting your reader to care for your character. If they care for him, they will have a personal stake in what happens, and those fight/love scenes will be all the more effective.
- Reveal things slowly, little by little. Doing an info dump in the beginning of your story is not effective because it involves a lot of telling, vs. showing the reader who your character is. Reveal crucial bits of information only as needed, and uncover your character’s background in snippets.
- Effective deep POV is created by word choice, dialogue and action scenes. Specifically, describe sensory scenes the way your character would. Pretend you’re stuck inside your character’s body, seeing things the way she would see them, describing them in the words she (not you the author) would use.
- Use the senses,especially sense of smell, which has been found to be one of the most powerful senses (that’s why phrases like “grandma’s apple pie” are so effective; they can instantly invoke a feeling).
- The words you use to describe a setting should mirror the character’s feelings. If she’s depressed or happy, her description of the scene should reflect that.
- Don’t use telling words: felt, thought, wondered.
- Don’t use deep POV throughout the entire book. Because deep POV includes such heavy use of sensory images, trying to write an entire book in it would not only make the book run long, but it would keep the tension at the same level throughout. Even high tension becomes monotonous if it doesn’t increase or decrease. So the best time to employ deep POV is during the most emotional scenes: fights, loves scenes, chase scenes, moments of great conflict between the characters.
For those of you who haven’t read Linnea Sinclair, she’s a master in deep POV technique. She also teaches online and in-person courses on it, and that’s where I got some of the tips I went over today. If you haven’t taken this course and happen to see her teaching it, do yourself a favor and take it!
Do you have an author you love who’s particularly good at employing deep POV? Do you use it in your own writing?