Deep Point of View

Okay.  So I’ve been writing for a little while and thought I was writing in deep point of view.  Not.  Turns out I was still in the shallow end of the pool.  Was I head bopping?  Nope.  Using those terrible sense tags?  Nope.  I was describing the desk wrong.  Really.  The desk.

Let me explain.

First, for new writers, POV is whose head you’re in during the scene.  If the reader is in the heroine’s POV and she walks into a bar where she doesn’t know a soul…she can’t look at people and think, “Wozza, Joe is cute.”  She has to look and think, “Wow.  Who’s the hot guy with the tats by the pool table?”  She can’t see herself blush a beet red. But she can feel the stinging heat climb into her face.

Second, those terrible sense words yank the reader out of deep point of view.  Words like smell, felt, thought, wondered, considered and so on. 

(NOT deep POV) Bobby felt the pain shooting up her leg and wondered if she was going to die today.

Change that to deep POV:  The pain shot up her leg.  This was it.  Death loomed near.

The sense words distance the reader from the scene.  You don’t need them.

Okay.  About the desk.  I write quickly and then go back and layer all of those needed details.  So I throw in emotion, action, and description.  The thing is, my descriptions were falling flat.  I’d have the burnished antique desk…the granite countertops…etc.  But while they described the room…they didn’t help round out the characters.

To stay in deep POV, you have to describe the scene the way your POV character SEES it.  For example, if I walk into my home office at home, my eye goes to the desk where I left three piles of laundry to carry upstairs.  Darn laundry.  But if an art student walked in there, she’d probably notice the Lyman painting above my desk…and then she’d think about the painting she just finished.  Someone writing fantasy novels might notice the dragon figurine peering over the corner…and then think about the fairy figurine her grandpa gave her.

The key is that different people will notice different things.  My husband would notice the diet coke I have stashed around the file cabinet because I’ve been adamant about giving it up.  So I hide it in my office.  As a bit of a perfectionist, he’d also notice the Lyman painting is slightly off center.  Me, I notice the deep blue colors and stunning moonlight.  Perfect for a vampire scene.

So the question to ask is:  What does your character see?

NOTE:  This originally appeared as a craft blog for the FF&P Chapter of Romance Writer’s of America.