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Deep POV

Liz here.

Deep POV has been around for a while, but many authors are either frightened by it or confused by it. But when used correctly, it is a powerful tool that can take your writing to the next level. 

What is it? 
The best explanation I ever heard for deep POV came from Kristen Kieffer from She's Novel. Deep POV attempts to get rid of all traces of authorship. It's taking the reader so deep into the thoughts, experiences, and emotions of the characters that the reader is completely immersed in that character. In essence, they become that character. They feel what the character feels. They experience what the character experiences. 

Why use it? 
The goal of fiction is to create a fictional dream. To make your readers forget who and where they are for a while. When you do that, you've hooked them. They will want to turn the pages until they get to the end. And then they'll be sad the story is over. They'll want more from you. By using deep POV, you heighten that fictional dream. It becomes the fictional experience. You will take their breath away. 

Can you only use it for drama?
This is one excuse I've heard some writers use for not employing deep POV. And it's not valid. Romance, comedy, cozy mystery - they all benefit from deep POV. In romance, don't you want your readers to fall in love with the hero every bit much as the heroine does? Don't you want them to laugh along with your characters? Of course! The point of deep POV is to heighten the reading experience. And if you do that in romance or light fiction, you'll capture your audience. 

How does it work? 
Here's the crux of the matter. There are several ways to know you're writing deep POV.
1. Get rid of as many italics as possible. Change internal thought from being italicized, first person, present tense, to plain text, third person, past tense. For example:  
This is the weirdest thing that ever happened to me. (not deep POV)
This was the weirdest that that ever happened to her. (deep POV)
The italics pop the reader from the fictional dream. Don't do it! 
2. Watch for key telling words and eliminate them unless they appear in dialogue. These words include: thought, felt, saw, heard, smelled, remembered, hoped, imagined, watched, etc. You don't use these words when you think to yourself, so don't use them when writing. For example: 
She saw the burglar sprint from the house. (not deep POV)
The burglar sprinted from the house. (deep POV)  
There went the burglar, sprinting from the house. (even better deep POV, because that's how you think)
3. Don't tell emotion. This kind of goes back to #2, but I want to expand on it. Don't say that she felt nervous. Or angry, or tired, or sad. Show it, let the readers feel it and identify it themselves. For example: 
She was nervous. (not deep POV)
She twisted the bracelet around and around on her wrist and tapped her toes as an entire colony of butterflies took up residence in her stomach. (deep POV)
Can't you feel her nerves in the second example? And because you've experience similar feelings in your life, you know what they are. And identify with the character. 

Don't be afraid of deep POV, no matter what genre you write. Take the plunge, give it a try, and watch it transform your writing. 

Liz is teaching an intensive weekend course on deep POV in May. If you're interested in learning more about this exciting writing technique, visit 

Getting POV Right

Jen here:

If there is one thing that I see writers getting wrong when I judge contests, it’s POV or point of view. This one thing can make a huge difference in your story. It is the key component in creating an emotional experience, which is the standard we measure our story by. Getting POV correct makes a huge difference in the emotional experience for your reader.

What is POV?

POV is only what the character whose head you are in can see, feel, think, know, etc. Notice what I said here: the POV character. Depending on the scene and how many POV characters you have, this could be the hero, the love interest, the villain, etc. Whoever it is, this is their scene.

No head hopping

If you use more than one POV per scene, it is called head hopping. When you maintain one POV per scene, it allows the reader to fully get into the character’s skin. If you yank the reader out of that and pop them into another character, it gets confusing. And it breaks the emotional connection we as readers were forming with the POV character.

We can only know in that scene what that POV character knows. No, “Little did she know…” Or “Soon she would find out…” Or “Looking back later, she would realize.” These are signs of omniscience which pulls us into an out of body experience looking down. Not fun unless you’re a ghost.

What I find is that because we watch TV and movies, we muddle POV. When you watch a TV show or a movie, they are showing you the person’s face as they talk or react. When the director wants us to know what the heroine is feeling, he shows us her face, actions, and dialogue.

So often I’ll see something like this:

“I cheated on the test.” Mary confessed, wringing her hands. She felt awful about it. How could she make it right?

“I can’t believe that,” Mr. White replied. Mary was his best student. What was the world coming to if his best student cheated?

First we are in Mary’s head. We know this because we hear her internal monologue. Then we are in Mr. White’s head because we hear his interior monologue. This doesn’t let us actually be in either of their skins and denies the reader an emotionally compelling experience.

Instead, it should be written like this:

“I cheated on the test.” Mary confessed, wringing her hands. She felt awful about it. How could she make it right?

“I can’t believe that.” Mr. White shook his head and frowned.

Clearly he was disappointed in her. That made two of them. She was disappointed in herself.

We stay in Mary’s head the whole time so we can more deeply feel her emotions. The same scene could also be written from Mr. White’s POV depending on the goal of your scene. Additionally, you can write the same scene from different POVs to see which gives the greatest emotional experience and use that scene in your final work.

Writing is very different from video. We need to crawl inside the hero’s skin. When we do that, we don’t see their eyes or their faces.

Apply it

Put yourself in the scene as your character. What are you thinking, feeling? What are you doing with your body? What things are your five senses picking up? Show what it’s like to be that person from deep inside of them, not by showing us from the outside.

Press on!

Jennifer's latest books~ Coming Home A strong- willed young woman must discover her brother’s killer before she’s the next victim. The prequel, Be Mine, is also available. Can a simple thank you note turn into something more? Get the first chapter of Coming Home by signing up at


Writing Physical Reactions

Let’s get physical. Shall we? When we write, we need to show readers our character's reactions to situations.

Notice the word show not feel the reactions. It often gets confused by beginning writers—okay sometimes those of us who’ve written many books still have that problem. My hand is in the air, so this post isn’t just for you but for me as well.

Let’s look at this photo.

Let’s name our character Caitlin.

We could say: Caitlin couldn’t believe she was swinging on the deck of a boat, preparing to jump into water over her head. She was terrified.

Readers will get that, everyone knows what it’s like to swing, and they know what it’s like to be scared, but what if we could make our readers feel what Caitlin is feeling?

We do that with writing physical reactions.

Some of the reactions she might be having are:
An adrenaline rush because she’s about to jump from a swing on a boat into a lake and she doesn’t swim well. That’s all great but what does an adrenaline rush feel like, look like?

Her heart is racing.

photo by Noah Silliman
Her mouth is dry.

Maybe she is shallow breathing, and that’s making her dizzy.

It’s sunset, maybe it was 110 degrees that day, and the chain swings are burning her hands, but she can’t quite let go.

Let’s throw in some more problems for her, she has to do this because she signed up to raise money for St. Jude’s Hospital because they helped her sister. She’s raised $10,000 dollars for this jump, and if she doesn’t do it, she’s letting everyone down. So now she’s also sick to her stomach.

If some of those reactions are added to our description of a girl swinging, you’ll bring her to life, and your readers will feel what she feels without writing Caitlin felt scared.

Caitlin couldn’t believe she was swinging on the deck of a boat, preparing to jump into water over her head. She was terrified.

New version:
The swing chains burned Caitlin’s hands. All she had to do was let go, and it would be over. Her stomach rolled like the swell from the boats in the lake. She swallowed or tried too but there was not any moisture in her mouth. Breathe Caitlin, she could almost hear her sister’s voice. That’s why she was here, if she could do chemo then Caitlin could jump. On three. She’d go on the third swing. One, two...

Pull out a piece of your writing and add some physical reactions. Do you like it? Does it pull you into the story more?

New Release!
 A Time To Dance