We've been focused on a part of the writing craft that connects the character most deeply with the reader. But sometimes we miss a few signals that help us get that soul-deep connection.
Two Tips to Deepen POV Fast1. Look for words that sell.
Words like feel, felt, found are used in a sales pitch. Conversationally, they're great. But descriptive words that "tell" how the character is feeling fail to connect the reader in the experience of the story through the character's eyes.
(Other similar words: think, thought, wonder, wish, should, etc.)
Example: She felt embarrassed.
Fix: A heated flush spread from her chest into her cheeks.
Why it works: The physical reaction we learned about earlier in this series shows what is happening internally. We can all relate to that. But there's also another little tip...
2. Look for ways to use rhetorical device naturally.
There are 27 different rhetorical devices, according to the class I took from Margie Lawson. Using those in a way to help the words sing in the reader's mind draws the reader deeply into participation and experiencing the story.
Example: Chest and cheeks are alliteration using ch. But, if you read the sentence, we have a soft "sh" in "flush" as well as a triple in the "s" sound. We've actually created cadence (the musicality of words).
Go back and look at that sentence. The way your words form a sentence changes how the reader feels. Make sure the visceral reaction is in the proper order. Blood flows from the heart. So if you're going to use the chest/cheeks, then you have to do it in the right order or the reader knows it's out of order and starts to disconnect. An author's voice means you choose the words and how they're written on the page. It's your personality and style. My voice used chest and cheeks. Yours might be heart and face. But then, whatever words you use be sure to find the natural rhetorical device for your voice.
Here's another example: A city of hot concrete. Hot concrete that melted the soles of her shoes like the searing pain melted her soul.
Why it works:
a. Using anadiplosis, a common rhetorical device used to end a sentence with the same word or phrase that you start the next one with, emphasizes the story moment poetically. Our subconscious loves that!
b. But then the first sentence is not complete. Something you can do in fiction.
c. But then we use a homonym ... soles and soul are obviously different yet they become a sympathetic comparison that adds emotion through a visual. In deep POV, we can learn quite a bit about our character's story while drawing the reader further into the story with page-turning urgency. Do you think we're done? Nope.
d. We've also used the setting (hot concrete tells us it's a hot summer day) to mirror our character's emotional state.
All that in two sentences. Yep. That's why we write tight. We can say a lot in a short sentence or two
There you go. Deep POV improvement tips in just two steps.So the obvious question is: How do you do that while you're writing?
The answer: I write what comes naturally and then go back and edit in deep POV/rhetorical device/use of setting as a mirror.
What kind of a mirror could you use in deep POV if it had been a winter day?
Put it into action for your craft:
How many "feel/felt/found" or "think/thought/wonder" type of surface tells can you change in your story to a deeper experience for the reader?
What setting elements can deepen emotion in your character and in your story?
What rhetorical devices do you know and what more do you need to learn?
The Debutante Queen is one of my favorite books I've written using these tips. It's also earned the Dove Foundation Seal of Approval.
If you'd like to see how I use them, here's where you can find it and other books I've written.
The Debutante Queen, by Angela Breidenbach
1889 (Helena, MT): Calista Blythe enters the first Miss Snowflake Pageant celebrating Montana statehood to expose the plight of street urchins. But hiding an indentured orphan could unravel Calista’s reputation, and her budding romance with pageant organizer, Albert Shanahan, if her secret is revealed. Will love or law prevail?