Monday, February 15, 2010

Deep POV - What is it?

The sun rose, pink and orange fingers caressing the purple and blue cloud banks as the countryside woke. Birds chirped. The leaves in the trees rustled a morning greeting. Janet sighed. This was her favorite time of day.


Janet pulled her horse to a stop and sat astride its broad back staring at the horizon as the sun rose, pink and orange fingers caressing the purple and blue cloud banks. She inhaled deeply enjoying the scents of morning dew and fresh cut hay. The birds chirped and hopped about rustling the trees overhead as the countryside woke. Janet sighed deeply, she loved this time of day.

The first isn’t Deep POV the second is. Why? In the first one it could be anyone watching the sun rise. In the second the who is very clear. The character’s senses come into play. You are there with her – standing beside her as she sits on her horse, hearing the birds, smelling the dew and hay. That is Deep POV. I refer to it as crawling into the character’s skin. The most extreme Deep POV is first person – think Harry Potter by JK Rowling, or The Hollows series by Kim Harrison. Then there’s third person Deep POV, which is what most of the best sellers do.

When you write Deep POV the reader is in the story not watching the story they are experiencing it with the characters. When you watch a traditional movie shown on the screen you are aware that it is happening on the screen. How many of you have seen Avatar in 3D? I have – and swatted at the bugs. With the 3D glasses you are in the world of Pandora with Jake, if you didn’t see it in 3D you were watching. How many saw Titanic in the theater? Didn’t it seem as though the theater got colder as the ship sank? That’s what you are trying to achieve with Deep POV. That’s why Deep POV is so important. The reader of your book wants to be transported away from the kids, the husband, the pile of dishes waiting in the sink. It’s the job of the writer to do that and do it well.

As writer’s we hear it frequently – “Show don’t tell” – but what does that mean? If you are in Deep POV the question is answered. We are seeing, feeling, tasting, smelling, hearing and touching what the character does. In Shallow POV the reader is not walking with your characters but watching them, the reader is outside the characters world.

To quote Best Selling Author Angela Knight:
“Point of view is one of those concepts that gives newbies fits. One reason for this is that the effect of POV can be very subtle – so much so that most readers don’t notice it at all, so new writers don’t understand its importance.
…You’re in the character’s head, experiencing the scene as if you were that character. You think his thoughts, you feel the sensations he feels, you hear what he hears.”

Resources for POV:
Writing a Romance Novel for Dummies by Leslie Wainger
Write Great Fiction: Characters, Emotion and Viewpoint by Nancy Kress

Deep Point of View by Laurie Sanders (This one is hard to find but worth the search)

Websites (There are 11 parts to this)

With special thanks to Laurie Sanders and her Deep Point of View Workshop and Angela Knight for her many workshops from which material for this article was taken.

Next time from Delilah: Head Hopping or Swapping POV – How do you tell the difference?


Anonymous said...

This is an immensely huge help to writers struggling with POV. I have completed three works in first person POV. It's easier for me to stay focused that way. Right now I'm working on a third person POV story that needs serious revision simply because I go from limited omniscient, to all knowing overseer.

Carol North said...

Hi Delilah:
Thanks for an enlightening article. I intend to use lots of your suggestions.

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