How to Show Not Tell Using Deep POV

ourwriteside-com-1We read stories to go on an emotional journey. The books we love best are the ones that made us feel what the characters felt. The ones that made us forget we were reading. But how do we immerse readers into our stories and make them feel that magic? One way is by using Deep POV to show, not tell.

Deep POV is a technique that allows us to get inside the head of our POV character, creating an emotional connection between readers and that character. To write in Deep POV, you must first know your POV character inside and out. You have to know how they think, what they feel, and how they respond to others. Create a history for your POV character. Learn their motivations, goals, flaws, and fears. 90% of this won’t make it into your story, but will inform how you write your story. Knowing your character is step one. For more on writing three-dimensional characters click here.

Cut filter words like heard, saw, felt, thought, decided, wondered, noticed, etc. These words put distance between your reader and your character and let the author intrude. Using these words jolt your reader out of the story and remind them that they are in fact reading. That’s the last thing we want. Keep your reader immersed in the story. Describe what your characters are doing and show their emotions and thoughts through their actions. Use subtext to make what they don’t say as important as what they do say. Use descriptions to set the mood for each scene.

Don’t name emotions. Show them. This goes along with describing without using filter words. We want to use action and dialogue to describe our character’s emotional responses. For more on writing emotions look here and here.

Here’s an example of not writing in Deep POV:

Sara felt the loss of David deeply. What was the point of all of this she wondered, wiping a tear from her cheek. Sara thought she heard footsteps returning and looked up eagerly. No one was there. Why would he come back, she asked herself bitterly. She realized she was truly alone now and it hit her like a ton of bricks. She fell to the floor despondent.

Now in Deep POV:

Sara’s chest ached sharply as she saw the look on David’s face as he said goodbye over and over again. Her breath hitched and she struggled to breathe normally. What was the point of this last year? Of all the things they had said and shared? Now it was all wasted. She wiped an impatient hand over her eyes. Was that the sound of footsteps? Was he coming back? She smiled despite herself and looked up eagerly. But no one was there. Why would he come back to her, after all? She was utterly alone. Her stomach sank and she crumpled to the floor.

We #read stories to go on an emotional journey. #writingtips @hijinkswriter #ourwriteside #POV Click To Tweet

Notice the difference between the two. The first is filled with filter words and telling emotions. The second uses actions and the direct thoughts of the character to convey emotions. So instead of she fell to the floor despondent, we have her crumpling to the floor. We took out felt, wondered, heard, asked, and realized and the scene became immediate instead of distanced. Remember to show, not tell using Deep POV to immerse your readers into the scene. What are your favorite books that use Deep POV? Share below and happy writing.

Julia

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J.K. Allen

Columnist/Illustrator at Our Write Side/OWS Ink, LLC
Julia Allen received her BA in Creative Writing and English from Michigan State University. She did her senior thesis in poetry under the tutelage of Diane Wakoski, but has been focused primarily on fiction as of late. Common writing themes that can be found in her work address identity and the type of strength that can be found in ordinary people. Julia is currently working on a Young Adult fantasy novel and can be found at local cafes in her hometown when writing, and painting, drawing, or reading when not.
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2 thoughts on “How to Show Not Tell Using Deep POV”

  1. Tonya Moore says:

    This bit of advice is well timed… as I’m gearing up for nanwrimo. One of my biggest writing challenges is writing complex, three-dimensional characters. Deep POV is a technique that will take some practice and this is the perfect opportunity.

  2. Brandon says:

    This is some much needed information, I have seen a couple of conversations about this topic. You have a great explanation here.

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