Achieving Deep POV

Achieving Deep POV

The deeper you go, the more the reader is sucked into your story.

by Jamie K. Schmidt 

October 2, 2018


POV stands for point of view. The deeper you go, the more the reader is sucked into your story. It is a technique that’s useful for giving your reader “the feels.”  The goal for deep POV is to give the reader a chance to be inside your character’s head and feel their emotions through their thoughts and reactions in real time.

An easy way to practice deep POV is to write in first person, and pretend that you are the character. You’re not narrating the scene, however. Instead, it’s as if you have a camera strapped to your forehead. In other words, you must make sure your reader is experiencing the situation at the same time your character is.

For example: I jumped at the loud noise.  

This isn’t enough (plus, it’s telling, not showing).

Deep POV would be:  What the heck was that?  My heart slammed into my chest at the sound of the window shattering. (Plus, it’s showing, not telling.)

If you have to write in third person, however, it gets a little trickier. Of course, you can write it in first person and then go back and switch the pronouns. But that’s tedious, and it’s a bit of a trap because not all of first person is necessarily deep POV.

First Person: I couldn’t believe this was happening to me. My knees shook as I walked up on stage to get my award.

Third Person: Sheila couldn’t believe this was happening to her. Her knees shook as she walked up on stage to get her award.

Deep POV:  OMG. OMG. Sheila sat stunned. She didn’t hear the applause over the pounding of her heart. She stumbled in her new heels as she walked up on stage to get her award.

As you may have noticed, the key to deep POV is in the old “show don’t tell” adage, taken one step further to make the reader feel the emotion of the scene.

Telling:  Sarah was sad that her boyfriend broke up with her. She cried for days, inconsolable. He couldn’t even do it in person. He had sent her a text.

Showing:  Sarah buried herself under her covers, not caring that they needed washing. She needed washing. She hadn’t moved from the bed in days. Her throat was raw from sobbing, and yet the tears didn’t stop. I don’t love you anymore, his text said.

Deep POV:
  A week ago, they had been happy. Sarah even thought he might pop the question soon. Then out of the blue, he sent five words that changed her life. I don’t love you anymore. And then, he blocked her number. Blocked her from social media. Her whole identity had been wrapped up with him. His friends followed his lead. One by one, ghosting her as if she were nothing. She was nothing. Dizzy and dehydrated from sobbing and throwing up, all Sarah wanted to do was lie on the cold tile floor. Why? Why?

Quick and easy ways to get deeper point of view:

1.    Remove the dialog tags like he said/she said.
For example: “I want an ice cream,” she said.
Better: “I want an ice cream.” If she didn’t get a chocolate waffle cone soon, she would die.

2.    Make sure you’re writing in the active voice, not the passive voice.

Passive Voice: Her finger was burned by the hot muffin pan.
Deep POV: Ow! She snatched her hand back from the muffin pan, but it was too late. A blister was already forming on her finger.

3.    Avoid narrating the story.

Example: He watched her walk across the bar and order a girly drink. He shook his head in disgust. She used to drink straight whisky.
Deep POV: Sheila ordered an appletini. What the heck happened to her?  The last time they were together she had been sipping a Dewar’s, neat.

4.    Add in character’s thoughts.

It can be a snarky aside, Yeah, you and what army? A reverent prayer, Please, don’t strike out. Or a quick commentary, Liar! Keep it short. Put it in italics. And don’t put quotation marks around it.

Not every scene in your novel should have deep POV, however. You should keep it for the scenes with the main protagonist. Dialog is an easy way to squeeze in some deep POV. Use it for emotional scenes to tug the reader deeper into the story, and that will keep them turning the pages.

Additional Resources:

·  Five Time Katniss Nailed Deep POV by Marcy Kennedy

·  Virginia Kantra’s Deep POV workshop handouts

·  Alicia Rasley’s Deep POV writing assignments

USA Today bestselling author, Jamie K. Schmidt, writes contemporary love stories and paranormal romances.  Her steamy, romantic comedy, Life’s a Beach, reached #2 on Barnes & Noble and #9 on Amazon and iBooks.  Her Club Inferno series from Random House’s Loveswept line has hit both the Amazon and Barnes & Noble top one hundred lists and the first book in the series, Heat, put her on the USA Today bestseller list for the first time.  Her dragon paranormal romance series from Entangled Publishing, has been called “fun and quirky” and “endearing.”

Are you ready to start writing your book? Let us help! Show the Institute for Writers a sample of your work here.


Kathleen n Listman
June 29, 2020

Deep POV that replaces dialog tags often pulls the reader out of the story. They have to wade through internal thoughts when they really want to hear what the next person says. Internal thoughts attached to dialog instead of a tag work best when the character is saying something that they do not mean.

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