Earlier this month the Editorrent blog discussed the challenges of “Deep POV”, explaining:
Deep POV is a variety of single POV, where an entire scene (or chapter, or book) is told through the perspective (or point of view) of one of the characters in the scene. Deep POV takes this further—the narration is done not just in the perspective but in the voice of the POV character. It’s meant to establish almost no distance between the narrator and the reader—rather like a first-person feel with third-person pronouns.I hadn’t come across this term, and Google Books hadn’t picked up on it, either, so I figured it’s relatively recent. Indeed, it appears to be a coinage of author Suzanne Brockmann, who explained it this way in a 2005 interview with Writers Write:
Deep Point of View was a phrase that I came up with when I was trying to explain my writing style. Point of view can be subjective (picture a hand-held camera on top of a character’s head) or objective (picture something like a security camera, bolted into place in the corner of a room).Brockmann works in the romance genre, and no doubt as a result most of the other websites discussing “deep POV” are also focused on romance. Editorrent’s write-up suggests a lot of writers are trying it, not all successfully. But there are no doubt examples from other types of novels as well.
In my books, I use subjective point of view, but I’m not satisfied with merely showing the reader what that camera sees from its perch atop a character’s head. I bring the camera down, inside of that character’s head, so we see the world through that character’s eyes. We hear things through his ears. We smell what he smells, feel what he feels, think what he think. With deep POV, I write using words that that character would use. I tell the story with that character’s voice.
Deep POV is very similar to writing first person. (I, me, mine...) Except it’s third person. (Sam’s, He, him, his...) When I use deep POV (which is pretty much all the time!), I don’t need to write “he thought,” or “he felt”—it’s understood that the words I’m writing are this character’s thoughts and feelings. This makes for tighter pacing and a livelier voice.
But what I really cared about was how this approach to narration fits into my “Six Parameters of Narrative Voice.” Does it require a new parameter? Which would be a bother since I’ve run out of P-words to label them.
But I decided that deep POV fits in just fine; it’s just a relatively uncommon combination of these parameters:
- Point of View, which we can define through that camera analogy as well as anything else: Tight single.
- Person, a grammatical measure: Third.
- Perspective, my term for the amount of time that passes between events and narration: Immediate, totally in the moment.
- Past and Present, another grammatical choice: Either.
- Presence of author: None at all.
- Paper Trail, or the presentation of the story through documentary forms: None.