(Craft) Ten Tips for Writing in Deep POV

Whenever I teach fiction-writing, I find that my students often struggle with understanding deep point of view (POV). To help clarify this sometimes challenging topic, I’ve created a list of Ten Tips for Writing Fiction in Deep POV. I trust these tips will help you as well.

Tip #1:  Become your character.  Deep POV minimizes the distance between character and reader, rendering that distance virtually non-existent. When writing in deep POV, enter and stay in the head of your character. In so doing, you will virtually become your character.

Tip #2:  Delete filtering devices.  Filtering devices are words that distance your character from your reader. Such expressions as she noticed, he wondered, she felt, she thought all tend to create a barrier between character and reader. Eliminate these expressions.

Tip #3:  Do not label your character’s emotions.  To label a character’s emotions is to tell, not to show. For example, do not write, “Her fear was great.” Instead write, “Her body shook, and her heart pounded.”

Tip #4:  Eliminate tags and attributions. Attributes like “she said” place distance between the character and the reader. Use a beat instead. A beat will not only serve to eliminate the attribution; it will also serve to characterize.

Tip #5:  Make the character’s emotions DO something.  Instead of writing, “She felt fear in her very bones,” write this: “Fear raced down her spine.”  The second example shows the emotion of fear doing something; namely, racing down the character’s spine.

Tip #6:  When describing setting, use words that mirror your character’s feelings.  Here is an example of mirroring from my own writing: “In the distance, thunder rumbled. Her heart rumbled with it.”

Tip #7:  Start your scene with your POV character. Doing so helps your reader immediately to identify with your POV character. This immediate identification hooks your reader and connects her to your character.

Tip #8:   Use specific details.  Details bring a character to life. Details also involve showing rather than telling.

Tip #9:   Experience settings and people through your POV character.  Everything you write must be only what your character thinks, feels, sees, hears, smells, tastes, and touches. Remember: in deep POV, the author becomes the character.

Tip #10:  Write your scene in first-person point of view, as though you were the main character.  If you have difficulty writing in deep POV, practice writing in the first-person.  First-person closely resembles deep POV. Once you get the feel of deep POV, you may then switch to third-person and apply the above tips to writing in third-person POV. Or, if you prefer, you may remain in first-person deep POV.

As in all of fiction-writing, the ultimate choice is yours.

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Copyright 2014 by Dr. MaryAnn Diorio. All Rights Reserved.

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