How to Write in Deep POV

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Deep Point of View is essentially getting into your character's head and letting the reader view the world as the character sees it and interprets it. It's the ultimate SHOW, DON'T TELL method.  It creates first-person intimacy with the reader even when writing in the third-person.

It means avoiding words like

felt, thought, saw, hoped

... and just recounting what the character actually felt, thought, saw, and hoped.

Why? 

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Well, first because it pulls the reader deeper into the story. It invokes deeper emotion and attachment from the reader toward the characters and story.

Second, because the character wouldn't tell someone a story by saying, "When I opened the door, I saw the bird fly away." She would simply say, "When I opened the door, the bird flew away."

The key is to pull the reader into the story and let them experience the excitement, fear, suspense, and happiness with the character.

Example: 

Not deep POV -

"He smelled her perfume and then felt her come up behind him and wrap her arms around his waist. He figured she was trying to butter him up."

Deep POV -

"Her alluring floral scent hit his nose seconds before heat infused his back as she wrapped her arms around him. Must be her way of trying to butter him up."

The first is a boring account that he smelled her and felt her come up behind him.  The second is a first-hand account in his words how her coming up from behind affected him. He's explaining to the reader how it made him feel, without saying, "It made me feel..."

Another example: 

When you hear a car horn, you don't think, "I hear a car horn."  Instead, your brain says, "That's a car horn."  Do the same with your writing.  Filter out the extra unneeded words that TELL the reader what the character is experiencing. Get right to what's happening instead.

You wouldn't think to yourself, "I think brussels sprouts are gross." You instead think, "Eww, brussels sprouts are gross!" 

One of the best books I've read about deep POV is Rivet Your Readers with Deep POV by Jill Elizabeth Nelson. She gives great, specific examples to show the difference between telling the reader what happened and showing them.

Here's one: 

Shallow POV: "Noxious fumes filled the air."

Deep POV: "Was that sulfur? Her nose scrunched and she pinched her nostrils closed with her thumb and index finger as she held her breath."

I like to think of deep POV as the character telling their best friend a story. Recounting exactly what happened in their own words.

I wouldn't tell my best friend a story and say, "I felt the ground shake so hard." Instead, I would tell her, "The ground shook so hard that I had to grab onto the wall for balance." See how the second example is more interesting? It also gives the reader a more specific gauge of how hard the ground shook.

What I love about deep POV is the fact that it's different for EVERY SINGLE CHARACTER.  

Based on who they are, where they're from, their education, background, beliefs, and values will dictate HOW the character describes the story. They will use certain dialect, profanity, and direct thought exclamations that are specific to them. Two characters who are in the same situation will react to and recount the situation MUCH different.

This is especially helpful because then the reader knows exactly who is talking without the use a dialogue tag. 

What is your experience with deep POV?  Have you tried it? I'd love to hear your thoughts about how you make it work in your writing.

xoxo,
Christina