Burrowing Into a Reader's Mind: Writing Deep POV


What in the heck is deep POV, or deep point of view?
This is a trick pros use to grab the reader and suck them in so deeply into the character, they can’t let go. It’s a way to eliminate the gap between the reader and the character, effectively hooking them into a character’s mind in a way nothing else can. An emotional connection is created. They care. They connect and an immediate, and intimate, bond is formed between the two of them.
That’s the why and the what—let’s talk about the how. How is this accomplished?
The basics can include ditching speech tags. Avoid using them. Instead, tag with action. Also, rarely name emotions. Don’t label anything. And finally, don’t tell at all, only show. Let’s dig into these just a little more.

Speech tags, if you don’t already know, are things like said, whispered, yelled, and so forth. Tagging spoken lines so the reader knows just whose mouth the words came from. It is necessary sometimes, but the experienced author won’t use them too often and will instead tag with action.
So rather than something like: “I like these donuts,” she said. Instead, you might opt for something like: “I like these donuts.” She took a bite, sprinkles falling from the chocolate icing to the table. This will let the reader know who is talking, and also pull them into a relatable action.
Naming emotions is another big one. It falls into the same chapter as “show, don’t tell” that you hear rattled off, so often without much explanation. When I first started taking my writing seriously, I had to search just what this meant.
In short, the action of the character should be enough to tell you how they are feeling. A label shouldn’t always be necessary.
Let’s take a look at another example. “I hate you,” she whimpered, seething with anger. There is nothing really wrong with this, but if you want a deeper POV, you might consider leaving out the label. “I hate you.” Her breath came in short pants. Her words choked with tears as she brought her hand across his face in a slap, hard enough to leave a red mark. You know she’s angry, and we never had to label it. There will be times in the context that a label works. But don’t lean on it.
Labeling and showing versus telling are two sides of the same coin. Emotional labeling falls into this category. It was cold, it was hot, basically, things your character might experience that you can describe without narrating to your reader just what it is. Instead of it was cold, you might do something like this. She pulled the thin jean jacket around her skinny frame, the wind biting through it. Pulling the collar up, she shivered and proceeded to blow her hot breath into her bare hands as the first flakes of snow fell into her hair.
Don’t tell readers it’s hot, rather show them the sweat running down his back. Don’t tell them the room was bright, show them the sunlight breaking through the curtains. Nowhere in the second example do I say it’s cold, but you can feel it is. That is showing.

Read the entire article in the February 2020 issue of InD'Tale magazine.

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