Deep What-Now?

Deep point of view!

Once upon a time, when I was a wee little writer (well, honesty it was kind of that awkward, gangly, teenage stage of writing), I had a novella I thought was the bomb diggity — no, spellcheck, I do not mean dignity. People said they adored my main character, and though the plot wasn’t too complicated, it was fun and a little dark. I was sure this would be the first work of mine to be published.

Then along came a CP who said that my main character, the one everyone loved, was too distant for her. She said I needed to work on my deep POV — my main character needed depth. I huffed and puffed and refused to believe her for a whole full minute before I had Google up, so I could see what this whole “deep POV” thing was about.

Big mistake.

Everywhere I looked it said that deep POV was something that came naturally to a first person POV, which is what I write, and was only for third POV to dabble with. (And I will prove both wrong shortly.) Then I found the two links that clicked with me and changed the way I write:

Read them. Now. That’s an order.

Okay, now that you’ve gotten the basic gist of it, let me explain to you why it’s monumentally important for any POV or tense to follow basic deep POV. (Being the eternal why-asking toddler, it seems like my calling in life to share the whys.) Having “I’m afraid, she thought, he’s sad, I see” in your story slows down and separates your reader from your character/s and you miss out on a monumentally huge chance to build characters. My personal biggest pet peeves: dialog tags. They are very, very, very rarely actually needed. Of course every rule and piece of advice is made to be broken to bits and set on fire from time to time, but for the most part it’s boring, and not the only way to keep who’s talking clear. My good screenwriter/director friend, Joy over at Rabid Camera, once said to me something about how no one is completely still while having a conversation. You have to break to a new paragraph to focus on a new character in any tense, so simply having a movement or expression easily suffices for telling who’s talking. Not to mention “wondering” or “thinking” about something in prose is useless — do you ever think “I think” before having a thought in your head? What about thinking the emotion you’re feeling as you’re feeling it? Saying you see or hear something as it comes to your sense? Didn’t think so.

So instead of, “I’m afraid as I wonder if they were able to hunt him down,” try, “By now they should have caught up with him,” or, “Maybe they haven’t caught him yet,” or, “How could they hope to find him?”  or, “How could he hope to escape?”

And instead of ending “She’s dead,” with “Daman said,” try, “He shrugged and got to his feet,” or, “And Daman fainted,” or, “I wiped my hands on my jeans, biting my tongue to the point it bled to keep the tears at bay,” or, “Daman smiled, then whooped and started to do a victory lap around the building.”

And since I’m a writer and write stuff, here’s an example of writing where I mostly avoid filler words, but also where I use them, in the form of my WIP, Essence:

    “Still not hungry?” Bob barely looks up from eating to ask.
“N-not really.” I push a couple of small, diamond-shaped green vegetables that smell like sweet, caramelized garlic around my plate with my fork. There are some yellow beans with blue spots, and what look — and taste — like fat, purple carrots. How can I remember the names and flavors of stupid vegetables, but I can’t even fathom my sister’s name? What her face looks like? If I like her, I hate her, if she’s anything to me. I stab one of the purple carrots, watching it bleed a little juice onto the plate.
“Hey, you okay?” Bob’s stopped eating, eyeing my mauled carrot-thing.
Sure, yeah. I have no idea who I am, barely a grasp on where I am, and no idea if I’ll ever know. “Yeah, fine.”
He shrugs. “All right, then. We’d better clean up before the stove gets angry again.”

So, give it a shot. It took me three drafts of just that novella to start getting it right, then started a whole short story project to start studying it before giving it a go with a novel. And that’s the novel that got me an agent. So what do you have to lose?

(P.S. I’m thinking of doing more writing/non-fiction posts since said short story project is coming to an end. Anyone want to read more of my ramblings?)

Bacon, out.

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