Friends, I’m super happy to be hosting the fabulous Karen Witemeyer on Writerly Wednesday. If you aren’t familiar with Karen, you need to check her out here. She writes hilarious, endearing, historical romance that will keep you flipping pages late into the night. Today she’s sharing with us about Deep POV:
Deep POV: Part 1
How to increase the intimacy between your characters and your readers
In my opinion, mastering Deep POV (Point Of View) is one of the best ways to catch an editor’s eye and a reader’s loyalty. Many of my readers have told me that one of the reasons they enjoy my books is because my characters feel so real. This is directly tied to deep POV.
What is Deep POV?
Deep POV is being so far into the head and emotions of your character that you write in her voice instead of your own.
This goes beyond adding the occasional direct, italicized thought to the point where the narrative itself takes on the personality of the POV character. It puts the reader in the character’s head instead of relying solely on action and dialog to determine the character’s motives and opinions.
Deep POV is the ultimate way to show in show vs. tell.
Readers don’t just listen to the story; they experience it directly with the characters. They feel the characters’ emotions firsthand and are privy to their thoughts. This draws the reader in and bonds her to the characters so that she becomes personally invested in the story’s outcome.
How do you capture the voice of your POV characters?
Keep POV pure – one per scene.
Head-hopping kills deep POV. The whole point of writing in deep POV is for your readers to experience the story vicariously through your POV character. If you jump into another character’s head you break that bond. Yes, there are best-selling authors who head-hop, but I would argue that they aren’t writing with deep POV.
Eliminate head words.
He thought. She wondered. He noticed. She knew. Watch out for variations on these head words and kill as many as you can. They distance your reader from your character by telling instead of showing.
She gazed at the door and wondered if John would show up like he’d promised or leave her stranded again.
Her gaze swung to the door. Where was he? John had promised not to leave her stranded this time. Why couldn’t the boy act responsibly for once in his life?
Use the same style in your narrative as you use in your POV character’s dialog.
If your hero tends to talk in clipped sentences, sprinkle a few sentence fragments into the narrative. Use language in your descriptions that he would use. Throw in one of his pet phrases once in a while. Each POV character’s voice must be distinct. Scenes written in the heroine’s POV should feel different than those written in the hero’s POV.
Add humor, sarcasm, prejudices, attitudes, misconceptions, etc.
Use the character’s personality to flavor the narrative. This is a great way to add humor or demonstrate misconceptions. Perhaps your heroine would think something catty about the woman who fired her even though she’d never utter the words aloud. Have fun with this. Show us her thoughts. Make her human and relatable.
Deepen POV by deepening the portrayal of emotion.
Do your best not to name your character’s emotions.
I won’t lie to you. This is the hardest part of writing deep POV. An author has to dig deep to evoke emotions instead of simply naming them. It requires more words, more effort, and more editing. But the payoff is huge.
If your heroine is afraid, we want the reader’s heart to race. If the hero’s been brutally wounded, we want the reader to wince. If the heroine believes she’s lost the man of her dreams, we want a tear to slide down the reader’s cheek. Showing emotions through direct thought, visceral responses, and active behavior creates a much greater impact on your reader than simply naming the emotion.
Stephanie eyed her rival, jealousy burning within her as the woman’s manicured hand stroked Jason’s sleeve.
Stephanie eyed her rival, her throat constricting as she fought to keep her hostess smile from contorting into a snarl. That tramp! How dare she show up tonight on Jason’s arm? And with her talons sunk into his sleeve like some medieval war bird. Where was a cat when you needed one?
You can feel the jealousy in the re-write can’t you? And isn’t your reaction stronger? Don’t you relate more fully to Stephanie’s emotions in the second version?
Notice the visceral response: …her throat constricting
The action: …she fought to keep her hostess smile from contorting into a snarl
The direct thought: That tramp! How dare she show up tonight on Jason’s arm?
The personality: And with her talons sunk into his sleeve like some medieval war bird. Where was a cat when you needed one?
Leave a comment by rewriting this narrative without naming any emotions:
Liz accepted her newborn daughter from the nurse, awe filling her heart at the sight of the tiny being she had brought into the world. Never had she been this happy.
Thanks so much to Karen for the amazing post. Be sure to leave a comment to be entered to win an autographed copy of her latest novel, No Other Will Do.