Writing Deep POV (How, When and Why To Do It)

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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! Smile

Do you have an author you love who’s particularly good at employing deep POV? Do you use it in your own writing?


10 thoughts on “Writing Deep POV (How, When and Why To Do It)

    Bart Palamaro said:
    November 12, 2010 at 8:50 am

    Great short description of deep pov, Rosalie. Thanks, it was just what I needed today.

      Rosalie Lario responded:
      November 12, 2010 at 8:52 am

      Thanks, Bart. 🙂 I’m working on a new novel so I figured a review of deep POV was in order!

    Julia Rachel Barrett said:
    November 12, 2010 at 11:08 am

    Deep POV is a somewhat nebulous concept for me. I think I’ve used it, but could you please give a concrete example? Post an excerpt – just a few sentences of something you’ve written in Deep POV so I can read it for myself. Thanks!

      Rosalie Lario responded:
      November 12, 2010 at 12:57 pm

      Julia, I dug out a before and after from my current WIP (Disclaimer: this material is unedited and still in the draft stage, so keep that in mind):


      He shot out lightning-fast and struck Keegan in the face, breaking his nose.

      Shit, that hurt.

      His nose made a painful crack as it started to mend itself back together.


      He shot out lightning-fast and struck Keegan in the face. Keegan’s nose gave an agonizing crunch as it broke, dropping him to his knees.

      Shit, that hurt. Mammon always did have a stone fist.

      Keegan rose to his feet, spitting out the metallic taste of blood in his mouth. His nose made a painful crack as it started to mend itself back together.

      So you can see I’m starting to layer in depth and emotion and use of the senses (sound and taste). I’ll probably add another layer before I’m done with it. 🙂

        Julia Rachel Barrett said:
        November 12, 2010 at 2:14 pm

        Thanks! I really wanted to read a very concrete example. I’m always confused by the phrase, Deep POV. At times I’ve heard it described as inner dialogue – but actually, it’s more of a fleshing out of the scene and the characters – giving a more visceral view of events.

        Rosalie Lario responded:
        November 12, 2010 at 5:03 pm

        I think it’s part fleshing out and part putting yourself in the character’s shoes: describing what she’s feeling.

    Maeve Greyson said:
    November 12, 2010 at 12:24 pm

    One of the best descriptions of Deep POV that I’ve come across in a while. Thank you!

      Rosalie Lario responded:
      November 12, 2010 at 12:58 pm

      Thanks, Maeve. Glad you found it useful!

    Suzanne Johnson said:
    November 12, 2010 at 12:27 pm

    I love deep POV and try to do a pass-through of a manuscript looking for nothing but opportunities to do it. I think JR Ward does about the best job I’ve seen of deep POV (from a male POV, at that) in her Black Dagger Brotherhood series.

      Rosalie Lario responded:
      November 12, 2010 at 12:59 pm

      Suzanne, I hear that a lot about JR Ward. Also Suzanne Brockman, who I haven’t read yet…

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