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Deep POV: What is it and why do you need it?

Jennifer here:

If you’ve been in the writing world at all, you’ll be familiar with the term POV, which stands for Point of View. This is important to know because it’s the point of view of the person who is telling the story at this moment in time.

Point of view is one of those things that has evolved as styles of writing have evolved. Many of the classics were written in a more omniscient POV. This is where the author writes from a position of authority, knowing everything that is happening, more than what the characters know. You can see it sneak into modern writing when you see the phrase, “Little did she know that her fate had just been sealed.” Or something to that effect. The reason is if we are in a character’s POV, and not omniscient, we can only know what they can know. If she can’t know that her fate has been sealed, then we as readers can’t know it either.

So, why wouldn’t you want to use omniscient? It seems that as an author you’d want the ability to know and show everything. And the answer is because it creates distance between the reader and the character. The closer a reader is to being inside a character’s skin, the greater the emotional bond they share. Which leads to a more memorable and moving experience.

Let me illustrate the different types of POV using movie shots. The omniscient POV is like the sweeping panorama shot from a boom camera or a helicopter. Gorgeous scenery, endless views, but the characters, if they are present at all, are little specks. A whole movie like that would get monotonous. We would have no idea what the characters were doing, let alone thinking or feeling.

Regular POV would be when the camera is just on one person, showing us her reactions, her words. We can tell some of her emotions because we read them on her face and we see them in her body language.

But deep POV takes us beyond what the camera can show us. Deep POV is when we crawl inside the hero’s skin. When we do that, we don’t see their eyes or their faces. 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 us what it’s like to be that person from deep inside of them, not by showing us from the outside.

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. However in writing, it’s very different.

We need to make the dive into deep POV to create a greater emotional connection between our characters and our readers. And that’s what’s going to give them that satisfying read they can’t put down.


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