Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Come a Little Closer...

Eyeball from Miranda Granche, Creative Commons 2.0
…a little more…a little more…there! When writing, it’s best to get so close that you can see the whites of your character’s eyeballs—or rather, so close you can hear their every thought. This is called deep POV, or deep point of view. While there are times you might not use deep POV (when you’re writing from an omniscient POV, for instance, and using the voice of a narrator), it’s usually the best way to go.

But what is deep POV? you ask. And how do I use it?

Deep POV is when you write so deeply inside your character’s head that you take on their eyes, ears, and thoughts.

There’s no need for he felt or she heard in deep POV. When you ARE the character, you don’t need to specify to yourself that you felt it, you heard it, or you thought it. Confused yet? Here’s an example.

Jason worked his way through the dark hallway. He bumped into the wall and bit his lip. He felt warm blood ooze from the cut.


Jason worked his way through the dark hallways. He bumped into the wall and bit his lip. Warm blood oozed from the cut. (Note how I cut the “he felt” in the last sentence, and just jumped into the action as it happened)

AND ACTUALLY, you can deepen the POV further…

The dark hallway was a bear to maneuver. He bumped into a wall and sliced his lip. Warm blood oozed from the cut. (Note how I transitioned from telling how Jason worked through the hallway to actually BEING Jason as he walked. I took on his thoughts)

Can you see the differences in each sentence? They are subtle, but discernable. And the deeper you delve into your character’s POV, the more readers will connect with the story. Become part of the story. Love and recommend the story…

OK, maybe not that last one, but it will make your story more relatable, or closer, to the reader—and that can only be a good thing.

I know, I know, you’re wanting more examples. There is no better way to learn than to actually dive in and try it. So, take this sentence and see if you can deepen it:

Bree dropped the spoon. She heard it clatter on the kitchen floor, and she felt the cake batter splatter on her bare feet. What a sticky mess. She just knew her mom was going to freak!

How did you do?

If you cut out “she heard”, “she felt”, "she just knew" you are well on your way to understanding deep POV. If you took out “Her” from the last sentence and just started with “Mom”, you are practically a master!

There are more subtlety and techniques to learn, however. For more information on deep POV, you might try Rivet Your Readers with Deep POV, by Jill Elizabeth Nelson. It’s not a kid lit book, but it’s what taught me a lot about the subject.

Any questions? Ask them here and I’ll see if I can help! Or go pull a paragraph from a manuscript and show us your before and after in the comments below.

Ella's note: I ask authors to use deep pov all the time, and am thrilled when they already know about it. It's a simple but powerful tool to create an immersive reading experience, particularly when you combine it with rich characterization, which we'll be talking about in the the next couple of weeks. 

ABOUT KATIE: Katie Clark is a proud Rate Your story judge. Her published works include multiple A Tour of Your Muscular and Skeletal Systems, Animal Actors, Police Horses, and more. She is anticipating the release of her first YA dystopian novel, Vanquished, through Pelican Book Group. She is available for classroom visits and Skype chats to discuss her books. You can learn more at her website,


  1. Great post with good examples. Be the character is such good advice! This was helpful.

  2. Thank you for a timely post, Ella! Your examples were great. Can't wait to go over my W.I.P. And edit for deep POV.

  3. Thank you for the POV advice. I'm going to apply it to my WIP's.

  4. Thank you Katie Clark, your examples of deep POV are very helpful. I am trying to deepen my character experiences and every tip I read is building my understanding of how to do that.

  5. Actually, I see a subtlety between using "her mom" and "Mom." The latter implies a closer, more positive relationship. The former is a bit colder, more distant, which could be appropriate if the relationship is such. However deep you get in POV, you'd want to use every opportunity to get across such nuances, yes?

  6. Thanks for the specific examples. It helps a great deal to compare the before and after. Great post.

  7. I am so glad that you are finding the article helpful! Charley, yes, you are definitely correct! No matter how deep (or not deep) a writer chooses to make their POV, the character's true voice must shine through.

  8. Love the practical examples and writing prompt...this was like a mini-workshop in deepening POV...thank you!!!!


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