Deep POV: What it is, What it isn’t, and Why First isn’t Deep POV

Gothic Writing 2

Gothic Writing 2 by Dave Turner

To recap: As part of the In Your Write Mind Workshop I attended in July at Seton Hill University, I gave an hour-long class on Deep Point of View. I thought I might as well turn the class into a series of blog posts. This is the third one.

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What Deep POV is, What it isn’t, and Why First isn’t Deep POV

So what the heck is Deep POV? It’s a form of limited third person POV where the narrator takes on the voice of the character and where the reader is deeply immersed in the characters thoughts and feelings. The reader is riding so close to the character, they might be in his or her skin.

Deep POV does not mean that the character bounces between third person limited and first person italicized thought. It does not mean that every single thought and emotion must be voiced. And Deep POV is not achieved by simply replacing “I”  and “my” in a first person narration with “he/she” and “his/hers.”

So the next question is why can’t you just write a first person scene and replace all the pronouns? First person is, after all, a very immersive POV…

Because a first person narrator/character knows that they’re telling a story to the reader. When you’re deep in limited third person, that character/narrator is unaware they are telling a story. The reader is reading the unfiltered thoughts, emotions, and feelings of that character.

A quote from Alicia Rasley’s The Power of Point of View states this far better than I can:

“This [deep third] is the most intense and intimate POV level, more intimate, in fact, then first-person narration. Why? Because an effective first-person narrator can and probably will lie. In deep-immersion third person, the reader can assume that what’s reported is the deepest of personal truth, at least as far as the character knows.”

For me, this was the single biggest a-ha moment I had when studying Deep POV: First person narrators can be unreliable. They can leave out information, minimize it. They can lie to the reader.

Deep third person narrators cannot lie to the reader. They can lie to themselves, yes… but the reader should and will see through those lies, if the author is truly writing in Deep POV.

Think about how you experience an event. Now think about how you tell someone about that event… do you tell them everything exactly as it occurred? Or do you choose to leave out somethings, maybe change others? If you were terrified, but don’t want your friend to know… you leave those emotions out.

That’s the difference. In First person, the narrator is telling the reader about an event as it happens. In Deep Third, the reader is experiencing the event through the narrator.

I’m going to stop here and let that thought gel for a bit.

Up next: How do you do it?

Categories: Deep POV

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3 thoughts on “Deep POV: What it is, What it isn’t, and Why First isn’t Deep POV

  1. Pingback: Deep POV: How Do You Do It? When Should You Do It? « Ann Laurel Kopchik

  2. Ann, would it be okay if I linked to this information on my blog? It has helped me so much with my editing!


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