POV (Point of View)
· First I ran five miles today.
· Second You ran five miles today.
· Third (omniscient, close/deep/limited, and distant/objective) Bob (or he) ran five miles today.
First person POV is good because it is very personal, and it’s the easiest to write. However, it has its limitations. For example, because the story can only be told through one character’s POV, the only scenes that can be included are scenes in which the first person narrator is present.
Second person POV is less commonly used in fiction.
Third person POV offers more flexibility than first person POV, but it is more distant than first person POV. However, this obstacle can be overcome through the use of close/deep/limited POV (hereafter referred to as deep POV). Omniscient POV used to be popular (classics), but deep POV is more popular today because it helps readers to better connect with characters. With omniscient POV, the narrator shares the feelings of all the characters. With deep POV, the narrator focuses on one POV character per scene and only shares the feelings of that character. With distant/objective POV, the narrator only shares actions and not feelings for a more distant feel.
Deep POV offers a more intimate feel, which is why it has become so popular.
When writing deep POV:
(1) Choose one POV character per scene.
(2) Write the scene from the POV character’s POV (readers only experience what the POV character experiences).
(3) Avoid words like thought, saw, feel, or heard. Readers assume the POV character is doing the thinking, seeing, etc. So instead of “Bob saw Mary walk across the lawn,” try “Mary walked across the lawn.” Readers will assume Bob saw Mary (if he is the POV character).
(4) Avoid headhopping when using deep POV. Do not include another character’s thoughts. The POV character can assume what others are thinking but cannot know for sure.
(5) If the POV character cannot see it, then don’t include it. For example, the POV character cannot see his/her facial expressions. He/she might know they are smiling, and that is okay, but he/she cannot see an embarrassed look on their face. In Dog Tags, I wanted to express that a character was embarrassed, but I couldn’t write that her face turned red because she wouldn’t see her face. However, she could feel heat on her face from being embarrassed (e.g., “heat rose up her cheeks”). If needed, ask someone else for help, or see how other writers handle similar situations in their stories.
(6) Deep POV technique often includes the use of questions. Do not overdo it.
(7) An easy way to write deep POV is to write in first person and then go back and change it to third person.
(8) It’s best to start off a scene with the POV character.
(9) Avoid using more than five POV characters per story. The number used depends on the genre and the story.
(10) Don’t cheat when using deep POV. Be sure to show and not tell.
Wrong: Bob was mad at Sue. Did Sue really expect him to give up without a fight?
Right: Uggh. Bob clenched his fists, marched to the other side of the room, and bit back the words that threatened to escape his lips. Did Sue really expect him to give up without a fight?
(11) In deep POV, only italicize thoughts if shifting into first person/present tense.
Example: Uggh. Bob clenched his fists, marched to the other side of the room, and bit back the words that threatened to escape his lips. Did Sue really expect him to give up without a fight? He shook his head. Lord, give me strength to deal with this stubborn woman.
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