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Going Deeper with Deep POV (& a free edit)

What's up, reader/writer types? 

Today, you've got a chance to win a free five-page edit! All you've got to do is comment below the post with two of your own examples. Examples of what you ask? Shallow and deep POV, of course.

Let's talk about deepening your point of view. This is one of the best ways to take your characters from cardboard to jump-off-the-page real. If you'll recall, my (and Gibbs's) Rule #1 is no head hopping. When you write a scene in just one POV, it's like you have tunnel vision. You see (hear, feel, smell, and taste) only what that character experiences. It's as though you've put one of those helmets with a camera attached on their head, so we see exactly what they see.


But that's just POV. If you want to go deep (and trust me, you do), there's so much more than the five senses. There are thoughts, feelings, emotions. Beyond just describing the setting and telling us what the character feels, you can show us. 

This is Rule #2. Show. Don't tell. A great indication that you're showing (and therefore in shallow POV) is when you're using variations of those five sense words: 
  • Leo saw a baby fox streak across the road.
  • I heard the tires screech as the car turned the corner.
  • The chips tasted salty.
  • She could smell fall in the air.
  • The sweater felt like a warm hug.
Or the sneaky weasel . . .
  • I thought he was lying.
Most of the time, it's easy to get rid of these. You can simply delete them. If we're in Leo's POV, and he tells us "the fox streaked across the road," we know he saw it.

If I say, "the tires screeched," guess what. I heard it.

You could even say "the chips were salty," although that's a little dull and tell-y. Better would be, "The salty chips stung my lips."

"The crisp smell of fall hung in the air."

"The sweater clung to me like a warm hug." 

"His shifty eyes told me he was lying."

The second part of this is emotion--the characters' feelings. Don't TELL me they're sad. SHOW me what it feels like to be sad, and PLEASE don't just show them crying. There are so many more original ways to show sadness. Throat burning, chest constricting, eyes stinging. Do they retreat to a special place where they can be alone? Eat their feelings? Call a friend? Bury themselves under the covers for three days?

A GREAT resource for this is The Emotion Thesaurus. You can look up any emotion, and the thesaurus will give you a bajillion examples of physical responses to that emotion. Seriously, if you don't own this, and you write fiction, please buy a copy now. We don't make recommendations like this lightly. Both of us own a copy.

What else? When you write, each POV character should have his or her own voice. The reader should be able to tell within the first paragraph, even the first sentence, exactly whose head they are in. We should be privy to the character's innermost thoughts and experience the story world exactly as they do. A man's thoughts and inner dialogue should not sound like a teenage girl's. Give your characters unique quirks.

Have you ever read a book and felt like the characters stepped out of the pages and sat down next to you to tell you their story? Deep POV creates characters the reader can identify with, laugh with, and cry with.

Don't settle for cardboard cut outs. Don't just skim the surface. Dig down deep, and give your characters life and breath.

Now it's your turn. Give me an example of shallow and deep POV in the comments below. And I'll choose one commenter at random and do a FREE FIVE PAGE EDIT. Be sure to leave your email address so I can contact you if you win. And feel free to share, please! Especially if you've got writing friends who could benefit from this win.)

Good luck, and go deep!