7 Ways Deep POV Creates Emotional Connections With Readers

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From Writers Helping Writers:

Deep POV (point of view) is a popular (and lately, divisive) writing style to employ. Many blogs about deep pov will list out the same four or six foundational tools as though any newbie could pick this up and run with it from these meagre explanations. Deep POV is complex and involves many tools that overlap and interact with one another to create specific effects. It’s truly a disservice to simplify deep POV to such an extent that newer writers stew in frustration for years trying to figure out why they can’t get this simple style to work for them.

What Is Deep POV?

Deep POV is a style of fiction writing that aims to remove all the psychic or narrative distance between the reader and the character so the reader feels as if they’re immersed in the story. By removing the author/narrator voice, the reader takes a vicarious emotional journey along with the point-of-view character. Here are 7 ways you can use deep POV to make that happen.

1. Remove The Writer Voice Entirely

First, it’s important to understand the role of the author/narrator in each point-of-view style.

  • Most are familiar with Omniscient POV, where the writer tells a story about a group of characters and shares how all the characters feel or think (and often whether they’re right to feel or think that way). 
  • Objective Third Person is a writer/narrator telling a story about one or more characters, but there’s little focus on what the character thinks or feels.
  • Limited or Close Third Person POV is a writer/narrator telling a story about ONE character, and that character shares thoughts intermittently with readers through free indirect speech (the parts we like to italicize).
  • First Person POV can also utilize this narrative or psychic distance, but it isn’t in deep POV by default.

Deep POV is one character living out a story with the reader at their side, in their head. The writer will use free indirect speech when writing in deep pov, but the focus of the story is the character’s emotional journey. There’s no place for the writer/narrator voice.

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3. Filter Everything Through the POV Character

This is so critical to making deep POV work for your story. Everything comes to the reader filtered through the point-of-view character – through all the things and all the feels. When another character is speaking, the reader receives that dialogue through the point-of-view character, not the writer (as they would in limited third person). The POV character will have an opinion about what’s said and the person saying it. What’s said will have an effect on how they think and feel. 

The same goes for setting and description, to the beats written to attribute dialogue to another character, how characters move, their expressions, ambient sensory details… EVERYTHING is filtered through the POV character’s perspective. This is a hard mindset shift to make.

Link to the rest at Writers Helping Writers

3 thoughts on “7 Ways Deep POV Creates Emotional Connections With Readers”

  1. This seems to be a convoluted way of describing something that seems pretty simple. Although I’m not even sure I get the distinctions between first person POV and deep POV. To make it work, you have to go deep. I don’t mean it’s easy, but I’m not sure it needs all this awareness of the process either. I’ve done it a couple of times in novels – once in a contemporary story and once in a historical novel, in which an old man recollects his youth, c1800, when he was a naive and trusting gardener at the old college of Glasgow University, and now attempts to come to terms with a terrible betrayal that has coloured his whole life. Essentially, you crawl inside another person’s head and stay there. If once you start to notice what you’re doing, it falls apart. Oddly enough, of all the things I’ve written these were the ‘smoothest’ to write. I remember an (ex) agent suggesting that this would be better with a third person narrator, but it couldn’t be done. The narrative voice was just too strong – and yet it wasn’t my voice at all! I still have huge affection for that character, even for the ‘crabbit’ old man he became.

  2. I hope you’re joking about not knowing the difference. First person can be distanced – it’s basically the narrator is “i”.. “I” do this, I feel that. “Deep” POV can be any person, first, second or third. Those that I can recall working for me are third person, and at least one is omniscent. Which almost no one seems to use these days, and I rather wish it would come back.

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