Oct 20

Writing Resource – POV Depth

One of the most common problems I see in writing is the issue of POV depth. One you get past the idea of writing within a specific point of view versus head hopping from one character to another or writing in an omnipresent point of view where the narrator seems to know everyone’s internal thoughts, it’s time to strengthen the POV, bring it deeper. The deeper you go the more the reader will be invested in reading the book. They will immerse themselves in it, see things happening before their eyes as if they were the character. That’s exactly what we want.

You often hear the term show, don’t tell. This can be directly applied to POV depth. Don’t tell us what a character feel, show us. I really like The Emotion Thesaurus, A Writer’s Guide To Character Expression by Angela Ackerman and Becca Puglist as a reference for when I teach this.

Here’s an example from the book (which you really must spend time with and can find here: http://www.amazon.com/Emotion-Thesaurus-Writers-Character-Expression-ebook/dp/B00822WM2M ).

Agitation: Definition – feeling upset or disturbed; a set of unrest Cover image of the Emotion Thesaurus

Physical Signals: A reddening of the face; a sheen of sweat on the cheeks, chin and forehead, hands moving in jerks, rubbing the back of the neck… and so on.

So, instead of: He felt agitated.

We get: He flushed and rubbed the back of his neck. 

Don’t tell us he’s agitated, show us.

The same goes for setting, which can be caught when you do a search for ‘was’. The place was beautiful. Don’t tell us. Show from the character’s POV: His mouth fell open. Sunlight filtered through the windows, lighting up the lush plants in the windowsills and casting gold and green layers of light across the room. 

Action can also be influenced by POV depth.

He moved across the room. Becomes: He strode across the room or He marched across the room or He sashayed across the room or He crept across the room. What emotions are involved? The emotion should have direct impact on your choice of personal action verb.

The deeper the POV, the more the reader will be invested.

Happy Writing!

Nancy Cassidy,

Editor and Writing Coach