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What Is Deep Point of View?
Deep point of view is a way of writing fiction in third-person limited that silences the narrative voice and takes the reader directly into a character’s mind. While third-person limited writing attaches to a single character and refers to them by their name or pronouns, deep POV takes it one step further—elminiating filter words and writing as the character instead of about them. For example, consider the following sentence:
He peered out the window. “Are they coming for me?” he wondered as he listened to the sound of distant hoofbeats.
The above could be written in deep POV as follows:
He peered out the window. Are they coming for me? Hoofbeats rumbled in the distance.
4 Reasons to Write in Deep Point of View
Deep POV, sometimes called close third, can be a hard writing technique to master. Once you learn how to capture your POV character’s voice, you’ll soon learn the benefits of writing from this perspective. Just like first-person writing, third-person deep POV focuses on a single character.
- Deep POV creates deeper connection between readers and characters. Deep POV shortens the narrative distance between readers and the POV character, forging a deeper connection between the two. Unlike stories with third-person omniscient narrators, a story written in deep POV allows readers to look through the character’s lens and follow the plot from their perspective.
- Deep POV strengthens character development. In deep POV, a reader is nestled inside the character’s head, privy to their thoughts and desires. Authors can use this ability to reveal more about who a character is, including personality traits and motivations. Deep POV gives readers a front-row seat to a character’s evolution through the narrative arc of a story.
- Deep POV makes a storyline come alive. Deep POV creates an immersive experience for readers. It places them in a position to hear, see, and feel a story instead of being told what’s going on. When a writer uses deep POV, the character’s experience and the reader’s experience are one and the same.
- Deep POV is a more concise way of writing. By removing dialogue tags and unnecessary adverbs and filler words, deep POV is a tighter way of writing. For example, read this line: “Jay was terrified of the principal. She always yelled at him during recess when he wasn’t doing anything wrong.” Now consider this version of the line rewritten in deep POV: “The principal walked towards Jay. He trembled. What did I do wrong this time?”
How to Write in Deep Point of View
If you’ve decided to bring the reader in close by using deep POV, apply these eight writing tips as you begin to craft your story.
- Create an in-depth character sketch before you write. In order to speak as your point-of-view character, you need to really know who they are. Create an in-depth profile of your character, including everything from their backstory to what they do for a living. This will help you create the character’s voice and inform their motivations for what they say and do.
- Use the character’s voice instead of the narrative voice. With deep third-person POV, you’re cutting out the middleman and getting information right from the source—your POV character. When you shift into this perspective, the narrative voice suddenly feels like an author intrusion which distracts the reader and pulls them out of the moment. Be sure to write from your character’s mind.
- Get rid of dialogue tags. The first time you establish that you’re writing in deep POV, the reader knows we’re in the character’s head, so you don’t need dialogue tags attached to thoughts. Including phrases like “she felt” or “she said” keeps the reader at a distance. Write sentences without those markers. For example, instead of saying “Jeanie felt Bob’s behavior was out of character,” get into Jeanie’s head and say, “Bob never acts this way.” You’re explaining the moment from Jeanie’s experience rather than an outside observation.
- Know the limits of writing deep point of view. Since deep POV is a variation of third-person limited, you follow just one character and only know the information they know—so no head-hopping. In deep POV, you know what your viewpoint character knows, and you also see what they see, feel what they feel, and hear what they hear because your reader is experiencing the story as your character experiences it. If another character is angry, your viewpoint character will observe their expression or read their body language, so tell the story from how they experience that interaction.
- Show, don’t tell. Showing, rather than telling, paints a picture for the reader. It creates that immersive sensory experience that is unique to writing in deep POV. Write the sights, sounds, and feelings of a moment as if the reader were experiencing them in real life.
- Use the active voice. The active voice keeps the viewpoint character at the center of the scene. The passive voice pushes them to the periphery. For example, consider this sentence: “The wave curled and buried Jon under ten feet of water and foam.” Instead, you could eliminate passive voice and say: “Jon fell under the wave, the weight of the water unbearable and suffocating.”
- Use internal dialogue to place the reader in the character’s head. Deep POV allows readers to be included in a character’s thoughts. Cut out filter words to get the reader into the character’s head to hear internal dialogue for themselves: “Jim stared at the pizza and debated whether or not to eat another slice” vs. “Jim stared at the pizza. Should I have another slice?” Notice how the internal dialogue in deep POV slips into the present tense while the other text remains in past tense. Writing character thoughts in present tense takes the reader into the moment as if it’s happening in real time.
- Use deep POV in scenes that call for it. You might write your book in limited third and reserve deep POV for scenes that warrant a more introspective look. “Sara noticed he wasn’t wearing his wedding ring and wondered if he deliberately took it off before he met up with her.” That’s an interesting observation in a story and worthy of deeper exploration. Cut the distance between Sara and the reader. “His wedding ring was missing. Did he take it off before he got here?”
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