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Sunday, June 26, 2016

Deep Point of View

cj Sez: I like to write as much into deep point of view as I can. I’m not always successful, and it always takes a few edit cycles to get what I want.
(All the 'toons are from Facebook)

Deep point of view is intense. It encompasses the sights, sounds, and actions, filtered through a point of view character but goes deeper into her/his emotions, actions, and reactions. In deep point of view, the character owns the page.

Following are a couple of the tips I picked up a few years ago from a blog and adopted into my writing: (The examples are from my work in progress which, of course, will be honed even further.)

1. Make as many of your dialogue tags disappear as possible.

Dialogue tags do clarify a speaker, but they also remind readers that they are reading a story. In deep point of view, tags are often replaced by action, body language, voice description, emotion. How the words are said and the actions behind the words reveal a lot about a character’s emotional state of mind.

Distant point of view: “That’s not something I care to share,” she said.

The reader can’t understand what she means. Is she naturally a private person? Maybe she’s being a bit belligerent.

Deeper: “That’s not something I care to share,” she said, wadding her napkin into a ball.

Her action gives a clue that what she doesn’t want to share upsets her. The “she said” reminds readers that they’re reading a novel, and it’s also redundant. (If dialog is in the same paragraph as the character’s action, then the action character is also the speaker.) In this sentence, I would have to eliminate the action to make it correct. But I want to give the character some emotional action to develop the persona more fully. So, let’s go deeper still.

Deeper still: “That’s not something I care to share.” She wadded a napkin into as tight a ball as she could get it then started picking it apart with her fingernails, shredding the paper into a pile of confetti.

The character’s body language adds a deeper point of view. The character’s emotional state of mind is revealed…without telling.

2. Make your thought words/sense words disappear

Thought words/sense words are telling words. They put an author on the page and again remind readers they are reading a novel. They are contrary to the “real life experience” of deep point of view.

How often do you personally think, I’m thinking about tomorrow’s party?  Or I’m wondering if … whatever?

You don’t. And if you’re writing in deep point of view, your characters don’t either. Oh, they’ll think, wonder, and see, hear, and feel; but they won’t add the filter words. They’ll just do it.

Distant: She felt his hands around her throat and wondered if she was going to die.

     The reader doesn’t feel what the character feels. The author has told the reader what the character thinks/feels.

Deep:   She tore at the fingers squeezing her throat. This is it. I’m going to die.

     (No thinking. No wondering. Just showing what’s happening and pulling in the reader.)


Another tip: Our worldviews are shaped by our life experiences and expectations. These are also the things that make up characters’ backstories. Ergo: Know your characters so thoroughly that you know reflexively how they will react in every situation.


As you explore deep point of view, know that there are many reasons to break the rules. Explore and discover the tips and tricks, and then use what works for you and your story. Remember, you are in charge…you are the captain of your story.


Let me know what you think. Will you go exploring?

Be sure to stop by Wednesday and read what author Joan Leotta has to say about how to get paid to write for essay markets.

Okay, you-all guys keep on keeping on, and I’ll try to do the same.

cj
cjpetterson@gmail.com
Choosing Carter  -- Kindle  /  Nook  /  Kobo   /  iTunes/iBook
Deadly Star --  Kindle  / Nook  / Kobo

6 comments:

  1. Love your examples. Makes me want to do a search on my mss for 'felt' and 'wonder' and rewrite!

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  2. Great article - I'm trying to get to grips with writing in deep POV but get tripped up on the body language. I know I'm supposed to write about anything that the character can see, hear or feel. But can I use "she screwed up her nose". (My argument would be should could feel that.)

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  3. I agree that your character would feel when "she screwed up her nose."

    The deep point of view can be difficult but it certainly keeps the author from intruding into the story. In today's writing world, it's always good when readers can get so involved in the story they forget they are reading a book. When the author steps in and tells what the character meant or looks like, that stops the process.

    Thanks for stopping by, Robyn, and I'm happy the article gave you some tips.

    Marilyn (aka cj)

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  4. PS: Way too quick on the enter button: I needed to finish my thought.

    Depending on where the phrase is in the scene, the reader might not quite understand why your character screwed up her nose, so maybe add something like, "She screwed up her nose when the smell got strong enough to make her eyes water." That gives the body language a reason to happen that the reader will feel and see.

    Marilyn (aka cj)

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  5. Hi Marilyn - thanks for the advice. That certainly gives me something to work with.

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