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What happened on Day 3?

Deep POV

When studying about the different types of POV you can write a novel from, I stumbled across something that was new to me.  Deep POV. This is a writing technique that gives readers a closer emotional connection to the protagonist. It allows the reader to become the character and to get inside their head. However, Deep POV is a tricky concept to grasp.

There are a number of really good websites that explain how to write in Deep POV particularly penultimateword and shesnovel.

The most simplest rules around writing in Deep POV are:

Remove filters

These are words such as:

  • wondered
  • hoped
  • realised
  • saw
  • heard
  • felt

which put up a barrier between the reader and the character. You don’t have to write: Will there be sun today, she wondered. You’re character doesn’t ask this internal question or intentionally wonder, she just does it. So all you have to write is, Will be there sun today?

 

Body Language

people-jumping

Because everything is seen through the eyes of the POV character you can only describe things the character can see, hear or feel. If your character is embarrassed and blushes, you can’t say, Her cheeks turned red because she can’t see her cheeks turn red. You could therefore write, Heat rose in her cheeks. This is something she can feel.

That’s a fairly simple example, but it gets more complicated when you want to refer to your character’s eyes. Avoid writing, She saw her hands had turned blue from the cold. Instead you’d write, She looked down at her hands. They had turned blue from the cold.

 

Eliminate personal pronouns

In Deep POV the more you use the character’s name the more you distance the reader from the character.

Use the POV character’s name at the beginning of the scene and then use mainly ‘she’ or ‘her’.

 

Dexis or Pointing words

arrow

Examples of dexis or pointing words are:

  • today, tomorrow, soon, yesterday (this narrates an event that has happened or will happen)
  • this and that (we wouldn’t normally use the word ‘this’ or ‘that’ when we’re thinking)

I’ve discovered I have a heap of them and it’s hard keeping a track of what words I shouldn’t be using. I’ve typed them up in a Word document and am using this as a checklist.

The best way I learn is to study the theory and then learn from examples. I’ve read recommended fiction books by authors writing in Deep POV, but I get disheartened because I find they break the rules. All of a sudden a filter word like ‘knew’ pops in or ‘She felt’. I get confused. I thought that you weren’t supposed to do use these words.

Writing in Deep POV is very tricky and I’m not sure I’d recommend it for newbie writers (like me!), but I’ve never been one to shy away from a challenge. So I’m persevering and taking heart in Arlene Prunkl from The Penultimate Word:

* Please note that if you dig deep enough, you’ll always find authors who don’t follow … POV guidelines. These authors are either gifted writers who have already mastered the art of POV so they feel confident enough to experiment with it, or they are already established commercial successes, meaning their publishers allow them to break all kinds of rules as long as their books keep making money. As a new author, you should develop strong POV skills before attempting to break the “rules.”

Ahh, that explains a lot! They’re allowed to break the rules and I’m not so these authors are (almost) forgiven for confusing me.

So I trawl through each chapter removing filter, dexis and pointing words, personal pronouns and ensuring the body language is only something the character can see, hear or feel.

Is anybody else writing in Deep POV? Is anyone else struggling? Would love to hear what your challenges are!

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