Have you ever heard of the term “deep point of view”? Neither had I until about a year ago. I was about as surprised of its existence as Dorothy was about not being in Kansas. (Even if she never really left.) Though, if we think about it really hard, this is probably what all of our English teachers meant when they said, “Show, don’t tell.” Like this terminology has always been in our vocabulary. Just like lions and tigers and bears.
So you can imagine how shocked I was to find out it has been around for at least 40 years. I mean holy shista!!! I’m an English major and with all we learned, I had never heard this term: Deep POV. Turns out, I’m not the only one who had never heard of this. I’ve been asked about it on Twitter and in my writing group. My response: 1st person POV + 3rd person limited omniscience = baby (Deep POV). I know this sounds weird, but I promise to make you understand as easily as possible.
Spring 2014 I took a senior seminar class with Allen Weir. He taught us four points of view (POV): 1st person, objective, limited omniscience and omniscience. Every book you have ever read using “I” or “we” is in 1st person POV. Objective, limited omniscience and omniscience are typically told in 3rd person (“he,” “she,” or “it”). With objective everything is told from an outside view. Kind of like the way we would describe people we watch through a one-way mirror. Limited omniscience tells the story from the view of one or two characters. Omniscience tells the story from every character you meet (two or more).
What then is Deep POV? Jill Elizabeth Nelson described it as remaining “firmly inside the POVC’s (point of view character’s) head, nothing in a scene can be presented for reader consideration that is outside that character’s head.” Is your mind blown? Mine was and still it made so much sense. Deep POV takes away all the telling and forces an author to show. Take for example the following two sentences. Which do you think is Deep POV?
- He had to think hard about what to do next.
- What should he do next?
If you guessed #2, you’re right. A lot more happens in Deep POV. Since I can’t cover it all, I’ll give you a couple more examples. In Jill’s book she includes a worksheet. I’m going to take one sentence from there and change it to Deep POV and I’ll take one from my own current project – Addicted (previously titled Destroyed).
- (Jill’s WS)
- Shallow: He wondered whether she would show up for his birthday party.
- Deep: Would she even bother to show up for his birthday party?
- Shallow: He stared at Gervasio and wondered when they finished how much of his family would remain intact.
- Deep: He stared at Gervasio. What would be left of his family when everything was said and done?
Hopefully by now you get the general idea. If you’re a new author or trying to break into the business, Deep POV is what readers want. Challenge yourself and find all of those telling words and throw them out the window. Make your book strong. For more information check out Jill’s book Rivet Your Readers With Deep Point of View.
Purchase via Amazon
Purchase via Barnes & Noble