Monday, August 22, 2005

Tips for Writers Monday: Deep POV

Happy Monday! Hope everyone is having a grand day and getting lots of brilliant prose written! I am sitting by a lake enjoying a lovely breeze. Ah, heaven. Isn't wireless internet wonderful?

Today's tip is Deep POV, or my interpretation of Deep POV. I have to admit, I've never gone to a Deep POV workshop so I don't know if what I call Deep POV is what other people do, but I think so...

Anyhoodles, I think Deep POV is when you write as if you are in the character's head. There are no external tags. Just thoughts as your character would have them.

Not deep POV: Jared walked into the room. He's such a jerk, she thought. She wished his smug grin would shrivel up and die. She'd feel so much better if he was miserable.

Deep POV: Oh, great. So glad to know Jared had joined the party. Not. What a scum sucking toadstool. How cool would it be to see his smug grin shrivel up and die? Life would be so much better if he was miserable.

Okay, class, who can tell point out some differences between the two examples? I'll go first.

1) In the second example, there is no reference to the POV character. There are no "she thought" or "she wished." The absence of those tags, my friends, is a prime indicator of deep POV. When you are thinking thoughts, do you ever think "Wow, I thought." Of course you don't. You simply think, "Wow." So delete all those tags and simply have the thoughts.

2) In the first example, the first sentence is an intrusive filler inserted solely to convey information to the reader (that Jared is entering the room). It doesn't reveal anything about the POV character. It's boring. And it's not deep POV. Think about your brain for a second. If you were at a party and an ex-boyfriend walked in the room, would your first thought be "My ex-boyfriend walked into the room?" No. You would absorb his appearance subconsciously and your first thought would be your reaction to him walking into the room. So the trick in writing is to have that first thought be the character's reaction, but have it clear enough that it conveys the additional info you need, like the fact that Jared has just arrived at the party.

3) The first example has complete sentences and is properly written. The second one has fragments and is more disjointed. Why? Because you don't think in complete sentences or proper grammar. You think in fragments and your thoughts jump around. Of course, you don't want to write gibberish, so you need to balance the randomness of thoughts with your need to write something coherent, but don't get bogged down in the grammar lessons from high school. Sit for a moment and track your thoughts. Where do they go? How are they worded?

Writing exercise:
Take a longish paragraph from your WIP and do the following:
1) Delete every pronoun or name that refers to the POV character.
2) Cross off every sentence that is author intrusion where you are simply trying to give facts.
3) Rewrite without using a single pronoun, noun, or name to reference the POV character and without using a single sentence that is info dumping.
4) Compare the two. Can you see the difference? Can you feel the difference in intensity and passion? I bet you can. If it was difficult to do, don't stress. With practice it will become more and more natural until you don't even think about it.

And here endeth the lesson for today. Was this helpful? I've never tried to explain deep POV before so let me know if it helped.

Don't forget to post questions for Ask an Agent Wednesday. Michelle Grajkowski of Three Seas Literary Agency will be doing her weekly Q&A starting this week.

Additional author Q&A's scheduled (please submit questions for the authors as well):
8/26/05: Kerrelyn Sparks, USA Today Bestselling author of How to Marry a Millionaire Vampire
9/2/05: Robin Popp, discussing Out of the Night, her new vampire series coming in September from Warner
9/9/95: Toni Blake, talking about her latest book, In Your Wildest Dreams

Until tomorrow...


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