(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.

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

(Craft) Crafting the Scene

Goal, motivation, or conflict should be a critical element of every scene we write.  Goal serves to present what your character wants. Motivation serves to explain why your character wants what she wants. Conflict serves to reveal what is keeping your character from getting what she wants.

Every scene must have one of these three elements plus two additional elements of your choosing. For example, you may write your first scene to present your protagonist’s goal but also to introduce her. You may write a later scene to reveal that your hero has lied to your heroine (conflict). You may write yet another scene to show that your heroine must find her missing brother in order to keep her sanity (motivation).

When writing your scenes, remember to include one of these three elements–goal, motivation, or conflict–in every scene. As you do, you will end up with powerful scenes that move your story forward.

For more information on writing scenes, check out Debra Dixon’s Goal, Motivation & Conflict .


Copyright 2014 by Dr. MaryAnn Diorio.  All rights reserved.

Combining the Prose and the Passion

E.M. Forster said “Only connect the prose and the passion, and both will be exalted.” Fiction can be defined as the process of connecting the prose and the passion for th purpose of creating a memorable story.

It is said that the heart is the seat of the emotions, and fiction is all about emotion. Emotion is a state of mind accompanied by physical responses. It is this combination of the mental and the physical in fiction that makes for a powerful story.

So how does an author best combine the mental and the physical to create a powerful story?  Here are a few tips that you may find helpful:

  • Put yourself not only into the mind of your character, but into her heart as well. Ask yourself not only what you would do in her situation, but also how you would feel.  If you have never been in your protagonist’s situation, recall a situation in which you experienced the same emotion.  For example, you may not have experienced the fear of being caught in a bombing raid, but you have experienced strong fear.
  • Choose verbs that convey powerful emotion. Verbs like shuddered, wailed, and exploded convey physical expressions of intense emotion as well as mental states of mind. Remember: your goal in fiction is not to appeal to the intellect; it is to appeal to the emotions.
  • Use setting to intensify the emotional impact of your story. By setting I mean the entire physical environment that supports your protagonist. This includes sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch. Describe sounds and smells that intensify your protagonist’s emotions.  For example, when she is facing danger, let her fear be reflected in the sharpness of something she touches or the shrillness of something she hears.

Prose without passion is just prose. But prose combined with passion results in a story that will transform your reader and leave your words echoing in her heart.

Copyright 2014 by Dr. MaryAnn Diorio. All rights reserved.

My Favorite Books on Fiction Writing

Every fiction author has her list of favorite books on the craft of writing fiction. Periodically, authors ask me for book recommendations, and I am always happy to offer some of my favorites. While this list is certainly not all-inclusive, it does represent a cross-section of my fiction-writing library.

The books listed are those I have found to be most helpful in learning how to write compelling fiction. I am supplying links to each book in case you wish to purchase one or more of them.  I want you to know upfront that these links are my affiliate links to Amazon.com, and I earn a percentage of all sales made through them.

If you know of other good books that are not already on my list, please let me know. I welcome your recommendations.   Thanks!

Story by Robert McKee

Book Proposals That Sell by W. Terry Whalin

Christian Writers Market Guide 2014

Create Your Writer Platform by Chuck Sambucchino

The Dance of Character and Plot by DiAnn Mills

Fiction Writing Demystified by Thomas Sawyer

The Fire in Fiction by Donald Maass

Getting into Character: Seven Secrets a Novelist Can Learn from Actors by Brandilyn Collins

Goal, Motivation, & Conflict by Debra Dixon

On Teaching and Writing Fiction by Wallace Stegner

Plot and Structure by James Scott Bell

Power Elements of Story Structure by Rebecca LuElla Miller

Save the Cat! by Blake Snyder

–Self-Editing for Fiction Writers by Renni Browne and David King

Story Engineering by Larry Brooks

Story Physics by Larry Brooks

Structuring Your Novel by K. Weiland

Techniques of the Selling Writer by Dwight Swain

The Art & Craft of Writing Christian Fiction by Jeff Gerke

The Moral Premise by Dr. Stan Williams

Writing the Breakout Novel by Donald Maass

Writing 21st Century Fiction: High Impact Techniques for Exceptional Storytelling by Donald Maass 

Copyright 2014 by MaryAnn Diorio, PhD, MFA.  All Rights Reserved.


Five Ways How NOT to Write a Novel

Much has been written on how to write a novel. Today, I’d like to address a few ways on how NOT to write a novel.

1) Do NOT wait for inspiration. If you do, you may never write a novel. Inspiration comes from discipline, determination, and dedication. When you apply the seat of your pants to the seat of the chair, inspiration will eventually come. At those times when I do not feel particularly inspired, I start my writing day by typing something like, “I have no clue what to write but I will keep on writing until I do have a clue.” I keep typing in this rather nonsensical fashion until an idea pops into my head that puts me in what I call “the flow zone”.  Once there, I sometimes find that good ideas flow so quickly that I cannot stop writing.

2)  Do NOT chase market trends.  The trend you chase today may end up being the trend of the past by the time your book is published–if, indeed, it is ever published. Instead, write the book of your heart.  Better yet, write the book of God’s heart. If you are connected to God, His heart will be your heart.

 3) Do NOT imitate other authors. Yes, be inspired by them, motivated by them, encouraged by them. But do NOT attempt to be a clone of them. You are a unique author with unique experiences and a unique way of expressing those experiences on paper. Write out of who YOU are. 

4) Do NOT circumvent the necessary learning curve for writing a novel. If you try to cut corners, your writing will show it. Instead, take the time to become excellent at your craft.

5) Do NOT give up. Thomas Edison said “Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine-percent perspiration.” Writing a novel involves a lot of sweat equity. While talent is important, perseverance is even more so. If you put your mind to it and your heart in it, you can write a story that will touch and transform lives.

Copyright 2014 by MaryAnn Diorio, PhD, MFA. All rights reserved.