Posted by: nancycurteman | May 26, 2015

Deep Point of View is No Mystery

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mystery1Deep Point of View is no mystery. It is a style of writing that has become very popular in recent years. In this piece I will define Deep POV and share strategies for using it.

What is meant by Deep Point of View?

Deep Point of View simply means that everything that happens in a scene where a main character is present is revealed through the eyes, ears. thoughts and emotions of that character. In short, nothing stands between a reader and the character because the reader is actually inside the character’s head and viewing everything from that character’s perspective.

What are some strategies for writing in Deep Point of View?

  • Remove nearly all traces of a narrator. If you place an invisible narrator between the reader and the character, you’ve inserted an authorial intrusion and distanced the reader from the character.
  • Make sure to only reveal to your readers what your current POV character knows.  For example don’t write, “He didn’t notice Mary leave the kitchen.” If your POV character didn’t notice it, then the reader can’t see it, either.
  • Leave out words such as: He thought or wondered or saw something.
  • Eliminate dialogue tags by replacing them with character action.
    Example: Bob peered into the refrigerator. “I see you took the last beer.”
  • Don’t write lengthy exposition, backstory, and description. Work it in through the characters thoughts, observations, dialogue and actions. Example: Mary gazed at the cloudless sky. It’s just like my childhood summers in Utah with Grandma.
  • Eliminate passive voice. Have your characters do the actions. Make your character the subject of the sentence.
    Example: Mary felt the stinging slap not Mary was slapped.
  • Don’t name an emotion. Make your character feel it.
    Example: Not: She was humiliated. But: Her cheeks burned and she ran from the room holding back sobs.
  • Italics are not necessary in Deep POV when a character is simply reporting his thoughts.
    Example: He stared at the angry bull and shook his head. It could trample a person to death in ten seconds.
  • Don’t have characters notice things they wouldn’t normally care about like brand names or designer labels.
    Example: John rode into town after a month on the cattle range. He noticed the pretty girl in the Chanel suit. (Most cowboys wouldn’t notice a Chanel label).
  • Leave out prepositional phrases used to clarify an action.
    Example: He clenched his teeth and glared at her in anger. (The actions make it clear he was angry. No need to explain to your reader).

Deep Point of view is no mystery. It’s a good POV writing technique, but not the only one. Only use it if it works for you.

More Tips:

5 Elements of Writing Craft
Tips on Changing Point of view in Mystery Novels


  1. Great post! Thank you for sharing it.


    • So glad you found my post interesting. If you have any questions, let me know.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I recently read a couple of books written by an author who used this deep POV you have described. I thought it quite unique. I liked it. I enjoy your posts on writing techniques.


    • The technique can be a bit tricky, but it really connects with readers. So glad you enjoy my posts.


      • I never encountered this POV before. It was so unique that when I read another book using it, I knew instantly it had to be the same author. I investigated, and it was. She had published one title under a different name. The author is Liane Moriarty. She has written several novels using this POV. If you read one and find that I am wrong, please tell me. I’ve never heard of this POV until your blog post. I am very intrigued by it and would like to be sure I have really spotted it.


  3. Ideem deep POV completely inacceptable and unreadable. No amount of popularity will ever be able to change my taste and my feelings towards it.


    • It seems that writers either love deep point of view or hate it. I like hearing diverse opinions on topics. Thank you for your comment.


  4. Carol, I haven’t read any books by Liane Moriarty. What kind of novels does she write? She may very well be using Deep POV because it seems to be quite au courant. I’m trying it in my new novel, but it isn’t easy.


    • The first one I read was “where’d You Go, Bernadette: A Novel.” The author was Maria Semple, but it is the same one that wrote “What Alice Forgot,” and the others I’ve read. These books are entertaining and humorous. (There is actually a mystery involved in the one I’m reading now, and in the Bernadette one, also.) The narrator, omniscient, tells the story from the POV of each character, often quoting the character, but sometimes telling, especially if telling contradicts what the character says. She mingles this combo story-telling flip-flopping expertly, seamlessly. All the characters are related in some way, mostly family, so they react to one another. Only one POV is presented at a time. I can’t put these novels down. I’m on my fourth one. I’m not sure I could write in this POV, but it would be fun giving it a try. Moriarty does it smoothly. I wish you success in your new book. If you decide to read any of Moriarty’s books, let me know what you think. I’d love to hear. Maybe I’m way off base and it’s not deep POV. Blessings to you, Nancy…


      • I have tried to be sure that Maria Semple and Liane Moriarty are the same person, but I cannot prove it, so maybe they are not.


      • Sounds like my kind of read. I’ll put her on my list.


  5. Using “I” in any thoughts still makes it first person so avoid that too.


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