You guys! The extraordinary Christina Delay is back with some excellent advice on writing Deep POV. Please read on. 🙂
Thanks to Angela and Becca for having me on their fabulous blog once again!
Last time I was here, we spoke about how to Dive Deep With Emotion. One of the key takeaways was the necessity of vulnerability to write authentic emotion.
What’s cool about authentic emotion is that it is also a key ingredient of writing deep POV. Deep POV is simply a “through the eyes” point of view. It can be written in 3rd or 1st, but the point is that there is no separation between the reader and the character.
Ha. Ha. Ha. Ahem.
What your character has experienced and how they have processed those experiences is just as integral to writing deep POV as is writing authentic emotion.
The Sum of our Experiences
Our experiences and background color our view of the world, and your character’s background will do the same to her world outlook. Deviate from your character’s experiences, and your readers will perk up—and not in a good way.
One of the reasons I am so thankful for Cruising Writers is because of the opportunities to travel, broaden my experiences, and widen the lens in which I see the world. Travel is also a great way to add firsthand knowledge to your character’s world and backstory.
Do you know the key parts of your character’s backstory that have made them who they are today? If your character has a specific hobby—like skydiving or scuba-diving —do you bring that into the story in their language and what they notice about the world?
A skydiver is going to pay more attention to the weather than your typical character. He’ll know how to determine which way the upper winds are blowing, about how fast the ground wind is, and know within an instant if it’s a good skydiving or swooping day.
Meanwhile, a scuba-diver will probably only pay attention to the sky as it relates to stormy seas or calm seas.
Emotional responses are key to writing authentic characters that connect with readers. Margie Lawson, our December Immersion Writing Cruise instructor, has some amazing courses on writing real emotion—she’ll be teaching this in depth on the cruise!
But what’s critical about writing an emotional response that connects is staying true to your character in that response.
For example, on one of my recent edits of my WIP, I stumbled across this line:
“My heart starts back up, speeding fast, too fast, cocaine-fast.”
Only problem is, this character had never used cocaine. So how would she know that?? Additionally, why would she even think that if she had no history of drug use?? It made no sense to my character or the story. If it made me stumble, you can be sure a reader would go cross-eyed trying to figure that one out. So I changed it.
“My heart starts back up, speeding fast, too fast, explosion-fast.”
And this works. Because she has just realized that there’s a bomb on board, that she brought it, and that she has no recollection of doing so.
Do your emotional responses stay true to your character and story? It’s easy to come up with descriptions for how our characters feel, but to write authentically, we must make sure those descriptions are aligned with our characters’ backstory, beliefs, and current point in the story.
I picked up on this gem from the fabulous Jaye Wells. If you’ve never read her Sabina Kane or Prospero’s War series, I highly recommend them.
Character lists are exactly what they sound like. They are lists for your characters. You can use a themed-word list, a senses list, a noun list, etc. that are all unique to your character.
I’ll stick with the skydiver character, since I’m married to one and at one point was licensed myself. A skydiver would have a themed-word list with words like altitude, rig, DZ, blue skies, velocity, fun jumps, hop and pop, tracking, low-altitude, and also an extensive knowledge of the different type of jump planes. Their senses list might have things like the smell of jet fuel, the reek of the Caravan before opening the airplane door in the summer, the buzz of manifest, the weight of their gear on their back, the feel of weightlessness when they first jump out of the plane. Their noun list would include specific types of planes, skydiving gear, weather terms, and skydiver vocabulary.
These lists can take some time to build and, if you’re a pantser, may be best to create as you go and refer back to during edits. But building lists like these are a great tool to make sure you stay true to character.
Diving into Deep POV
Deep POV is a wonderful way to create a close relationship between your character and your reader. Staying true to your character’s backstory, interests, beliefs, hobbies, and experiences go a long way to pulling off deep POV successfully.
How many of you like to write in deep POV? How many of you haven’t tried it yet? What are some tips you may have to write authentic, deep POV?
Christina Delay is the hostess of Cruising Writers and an award-winning author represented by Deidre Knight of The Knight Agency. When she’s not cruising the Caribbean, she’s dreaming up new writing retreats to take talented authors on or giving into the demands of imaginary people to tell their stories.
Cruising Writers brings writers together with bestselling authors, an agent, an editor, and a world-renowned writing craft instructor writing retreats around the world.
Becca Puglisi is an international speaker, writing coach, and bestselling author of The Emotion Thesaurus and its sequels. Her books are available in five languages, are sourced by US universities, and are used by novelists, screenwriters, editors, and psychologists around the world. She is passionate about learning and sharing her knowledge with others through her Writers Helping Writers blog and via One Stop For Writers—a powerhouse online library created to help writers elevate their storytelling.