Have you ever tried to tell your friends about an experience you had, but they didn’t give you the response you hoped for? Maybe they didn’t laugh when you gave the punchline of the story. You then tried to cover up your shame by saying, “You just had to be there.”
If we write our books in a shallow POV rather than in deep POV, we risk that same “cricket chirping” response from our audience. We’re narrating a story that could come across as much more powerful if we chose to instead invite the reader to experience it.
Deep POV is a way of showing rather than telling. It’s a writing technique that has grown in popularity over the past couple decades or so. When we write in deep POV, we’re giving our readers the opportunity to step into our protagonist’s shoes. They’ll walk through the pages of the story as if they themselves were the character.
If we can accomplish this, the setting will come to life. The journey that the protagonist takes will have more of an impact on the reader. Why? Because the reader wasn’t simply told about an experience our character had; they journeyed along with them.
Readers today–especially fans of YA fiction–search for these stories. They long to open a book and become transported into a different time and place. They want to forget about their surroundings, and even forget that they’re reading a book. They’re searching for stories that sweep them off their feet in an entertaining, thrilling, and emotional rollercoaster.
How can we, as authors, offer this kind of reading experience to our readers?
Avoid all traces of authorship. Resist the urge to tell the story. Engage all five senses. And when you write, step through the scene as if you are the character. This means you can only show the scene through their eyes. Everything must be filtered through your protagonist’s POV.
Here’s an example:
NOT Deep POV: Anna saw the bouquet of roses on the dining room table and smelled their sweet scent. Who brought these? she wondered.
Deep POV: Anna stepped into the kitchen, overtaken by a floral aroma. Where did that come from? The scent grew stronger as she peered into the dining room. A smile slid onto her lips. There it was. A bouquet of roses, tucked into a glass vase at the center of the table. Where could that have come from?
Notice how deep POV requires more words. If we want to offer this experience to our readers, it will require more work. Showing a scene almost always requires more words. But the payoff is worth it.
In the example that isn’t written in deep POV, the words “saw”, “smelled”, and “wondered” brings the reader out of Anna’s POV. It tells the audience what happened, yes—but it does so in a narrative form.
This is the difference between telling a friend about a scene from a movie and letting them watch it for themself.
When writing in shallow POV, we risk the scene from coming to life in the reader’s imagination. We risk not giving our readers the opportunity to build a strong connection with our protagonist.
You might say, “Books weren’t always written in deep POV, yet people still enjoyed them. Why can’t I write my book in shallow POV, too?”
Think of it this way: Movies weren’t always filmed in color. Yet, the use of color in today’s films brings scenes to life. It provides an even deeper sense of realism and escapism. Why use tools of the past when we’ve been given far more powerful tools to tell our story?
If you want your book to resonate with today’s reader, and if you want to sell your book to an agent/publisher, I recommend utilizing this deep POV writing technique. Most agents and publishers today will reject or ask for a revision if a manuscript is written in shallow POV.
No, this isn’t an easy task to accomplish. It requires far more work. But you’re painting color to a black-and-white story. You’re adding “scratch and sniff” pages to your book. The result? Your readers will be brought deeper into the heart, mind, and emotions of your POV character.
The motivations of your protagonist will become more clear. The character ARC, more realistic. And when your protagonist reaches his/her “epiphany moment” at the end of the story, so will your reader. Thus, the theme of your story will have far more impact to your readers than if it were written in shallow POV.
So if you can accomplish this—if you write your story in deep POV—you won’t have to risk the “cricket chirping” response. You won’t have to tell your readers, “You just had to be there.”
Because they were there. They lived it. You wrote a book that entertained, provided escapism, tapped into emotions.
And as writers, shouldn’t that be our ultimate goal of storytelling anyway?
What’s your opinion of deep POV? Have you tried to write a story that utilizes this technique? Share your thoughts in the comments!
What is Deep POV, and why is It Important? @TessaEmilyHall #amwriting #writerslife Click To Tweet