Much of the writing I do is very character-driven. Therefore, my goal is that readers will connect with my protagonist. I want my protagonist to come alive, for their thoughts and actions to jump off the page and draw readers in. Ultimately, I want my readers to feel like they are the protagonist.
That’s essentially what Deep Point-of-View, or Deep POV, is. The reader forgets they’re reading a book because it’s written in such a way that they feel they are living the character’s life. In this form of writing, you, the author, will try to remove dialogue tags, filter words, and passive voice. This establishes a deep and emotional connection with readers. Now, this isn’t the easiest technique to master. It’s so easy to slip back into your regular writing style. However, practice makes perfect, and if this is something that interests you, read on for my four tips on mastering this technique.
Tip 1: Get inside your protagonist’s head.
In order to help readers get lost in my protagonist’s head, it’s essential that I do it first. This means I must know my character inside and out. I need to understand their goals, motivations, relationships, and other facets of their lives.
Doing so will add a level of realism to your protagonist and make them relatable to your audience. To discover how to create realistic characters, check out our Write Plan series on character development and building a character profile.
Tip 2: Eliminate filter words.
Filter words are words like saw, heard, thought, felt, watched, etc. In deep POV, they are unnecessary because they take readers out of the character’s head. The goal is to experience the story through the protagonist’s eyes, so write the action as it happens.
Think about your own life. You don’t go around using filter words, so why should your protagonist? Let readers experience story events as a character does.
Confused? Here are some examples:
NOT deep POV:
Mary heard a gunshot and saw Eric fall to the ground.
A shot rang out.
Mary stifled a cry as Eric’s body fell to the ground before her.
NOT deep POV:
Eric thought the baby smelled bad. Time for a diaper change!
The baby smelled bad. Time for a diaper change!
Tip 3: Show, don't tell.
Many of us are familiar with this rule, and it’s interesting to note that in some cases, telling can be effective. However, the goal is for our readers to feel like they are the protagonist and become immersed in their world. Therefore, we want to create dynamic scenes and tell the story using our protagonist’s five senses. When conveying emotions, describing the setting, or writing dialogue, stay inside your character’s head and avoid lengthy info-dumps or descriptions.
Tip 4: Write in active rather than passive voice.
Writing in passive voice can pull your reader out of your character’s head. Why? Because passive voice indicates that something has already been done or is being done somewhere the protagonist isn’t.
An example of active voice: "The dog bit Katie."
In passive voice, the same sentence is written as: "Katie was bitten by the dog."
Here's another example.
Active voice: Joel hit Nick.
Passive voice: Nick was hit by Joel.
An easy way to identify passive vs. active voice is adding “by zombies” after the verb in the sentence. If the sentence makes sense, then it’s passive.
For example, if we were to use the examples above:
Passive: Katie was bitten by zombies.
Passive: Nick was hit by zombies.
Still confused? Check out this blog post by Kaitlin Hillerich for more examples and tips.
I hope this article was helpful in helping you master Deep POV. If you have any other suggestions, or additional questions, please leave them in the comments down below.
Jade Young is a writer. You can find her on Twitter at @jadeyoungwrites.
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