Strategies for Deepening POV

Deep POV's are the equivalent of scuba-diving. We get to explore, touch, and experience things close up. There's no feeling of distance, of being removed from the story, because we are RIGHT THERE.

1) Use the five senses. What better way for us to experience your character's story with them than to get a "sense" (ha ha) of what they're experiencing. I've included some examples below from one of my books, because I'm too lazy to make up new ones:
Sight: "Light washed across the city. Dozens of stories of glass blazed into the blue of the sky."
Sound: "Quiet fell in a slow wave as I pulled away from the keys, the final chords fading into silence."
Touch: "She patted my cheek. The heat from her coffee-warmed fingers sank into my skin."
Smell: "I breathed in the fresh scent of wet soil. No matter where he was, Grandpa always smelled like outside."
Taste: "Everything twisted. The world became a blur of brown and grey. A metallic mineral taste coated my tongue, and dirt burned in my nose."
2) Internal dialog. You should have some. Avoid internal monologuing, of course, but we need little touches of it here and there to keep us grounded in your main character's viewpoint. When your character is having a conversation with someone, it shouldn't go like this . . . 

"What do you think, Bob?"
"How dare you ask me what I think, Harold?"

It should be more like:

Harold smiled, his dry lips parting to reveal one of his I'm-going-to-make-a-fool-out-of-you grins. 
"What do you think, Bob?" 
Smugness practically dripped off the words. He knew damn well what I thought.
"How dare you ask me what I think, Harold?" I threw the menu in his face, praying for paper cuts.

3) Organic Storytelling. I've touched on elements of it in my other blog posts, but this is a huge factor in deepening your POV:

  • Descriptions should make sense in the context of the story. They should come from the main character's observations, not from the author's storytelling agenda (don't pretend you don't have one - we all do). If your main character describes something, they have to have a reason for noticing it in the first place (see blog post on description for examples).
  • Dialog should feel natural. Read it out loud. Do you sound like a real person? If not, considering revising.
  • Keep your reader in the present moment of the story. If your character spaces out in the middle of an action scene to zip back into their memories, the storytelling will not feel organic. People generally don't reminisce if they're about to be murdered, for instance. Keep us in the present. No jaunts to the past without damn good reason (see blog post on quality first pages for more info). If you keep bouncing between the past and the present, odds are you started your story too late. If you keep foreshadowing things that are going to happen later, odds are you started too soon.
  • The choices your character makes need to make some kind of sense (see blog post on emotional authenticity). This is their story, not yours. They should be in the driver's seat, not you. You can be the backseat driver and try to control them, but if you've created a compelling enough character, they're not going to listen to you all the time. NOTE: If your character stops listening to you sometimes, DO NOT PANIC. It's a good thing. Promise.

4) Show Us, Don't Tell Us. Well hey, what do you know, I wrote a blog post on that too. Also, don't be repetitive like me. It's super annoying. But I can't stress this one enough. Bring us in as deep as you can, as deep as you dare. That's where the magic is.

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