Immersive Deep Point of View (POV)
When Things Happen to the Character
When something is happening to the character, you only show what they can hear, see, touch, taste and intuit. Their mind and body takes in raw information and it appears on the page exactly how they experience it, e.g. how it sounds, looks, feels and tastes to the character. Use physical sensations, body movements and language, e.g. dialogue or thoughts.
Example of normal Third Person POV:
Nervous energy pumped through Anne’s veins as Don stared at her, shaking his head slowly, lips pursed in disappointment.
Example of Deep Third Person POV:
Anne shifted from foot to foot, fingers tapping on her thigh as she waited for Don’s reaction. His mouth pressed into a thin line and he shook his head slowly.
When the Character Reacts
When the character processes or reacts to what’s happening in the story, only share their immediate visceral and physical responses, not the conclusions they reach or the thought process that got them there. The way they experience the situation will depend on their personality, current emotional state, the beliefs and scars from their past and skills.
Continuing with the previous example:
Then Don sighed. He didn’t say a word before he turned and walked away. Pin pricks stabbed at Anne’s eyes and she blinked rapidly, holding her breath least a strangled cry made itself out of her mouth before he was out of earshot.
See how the author doesn’t tell the reader that Don was disappointed and so decided to leave, or that Anne was nervous about his reaction and upset when he turned his back on her, but they can surmise all of this from the characters’ actions.
Move In and Out of Deep POV
Being up close to emotions constantly can be tiring, so I prefer to save Deep POV for times when there are high emotional stakes. At other times you can pull back to a more distant POV, so the character (and reader) have time to process emotions, think through how the situation affects them and make decisions based on what the experience means to them.
As characters move through you story, put yourself in their shoes and experience situations as they would. When you translate this onto the page, focus on their immediate visceral and physical responses. Show the reader what they are thinking and feeling through facial expressions, body language, dialogue and tone of voice. Rather than explaining what is happening, just show the action as it unfolds and let readers draw their own conclusions. This will more thoroughly engage them emotionally and intellectually, resulting in a more satisfying experience for them.
This article first appeared on the Romance Writers of Australia blog on 23/08/21.
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