Saturday, May 9, 2015

Michelle Griep: Deep POV Primer

Here’s the thing about writing: it’s subjective. Over time, trends change. What was considered good writing thirty years ago is no longer in vogue today.

Example? Point of view (POV) is defined as the perspective from which your story is written. It used to be that omniscient POV was the bomb diggity. The author god looked down upon his mighty story world and described his character’s thoughts from afar. He’d even mix it up a bit, telling you what Suzie thought, then what Bobby thought, and even what Great Aunt Mildred thought about Suzie and Bobby. This is known as head hopping. Try that today and you’ll get whapped upside the head with a big rejection stick.

So then the trend was third-person subjective. Don’t let the multi-syllabic words throw you. All it means is that you show your story through the eyes of one character at a time. This gives insight into what that character thinks or feels while only having superficial knowledge of other characters.

Third person-subjective is still in use, but now all the really cool kids are taking that a step further and writing in deep POV. In essence, this takes the readers into the heart of a character, allowing the story to be fully seen and felt through that character’s experiences, thoughts and feelings.

Nice idea, but how exactly does one pull it off? Never fear! Have I got a handy dandy list for you.

5 Tips To Write in Deep POV

1. Ditch the tags.

He said, she thought, wondered, knew, saw, yada-yada. These are all tags, and for the most part, you don’t need them. This is not a hard and fast rule, however, especially if you’ve got a dialogue with several characters going on all at once. Then you just might need to keep the “said.” But better you show the actual thought instead of writing it out in detail.

Regular POV example:

He heard a car alarm blaring outside. He wondered why the idiot car owner didn’t shut it off.
Deep POV example:

A car alarm blared outside. Seriously? What kind of idiot annoyed the world with their stupid car alarm?

2. Ditch the emotion naming too.

Don’t get me wrong. You need to connect on a gut level with your reader, but you don’t need to bludgeon them with blatant emotional telling. Make the reader feel the emotions along with the character.

Regular POV example:

She heard footsteps close behind, ramping up her terror.

Deep POV example:

Footsteps pounded. Close. Too close. Susan’s heart skipped a beat. 

3. Stay True to Character.

Use words that the character would use, and remember the opposite is true as well. Don’t use words your character wouldn’t. Stay true. Take into consideration the era, feel, and genre of your story. Here’s a historical fiction example . . .

Regular POV example:

Louisa felt terrible after telling Winston her opinion. She wondered what he would think.

Deep POV example:

La! Such a dire muddle she’d made of things. Louisa stared at the floor, better that than sink beneath Winston’s scowl.

4. Formatting.

Italics used to be used to distinguish thoughts. You don’t need to do this in deep POV. There’s no confusing the reader since you’re only writing a scene from one character’s vantage point anyway.

Regular POV example:

Alice lifted the loaded gun, until the barrel rested flat against her forehead. Surely Alice has more brains than that, he thought, or maybe she didn’t?

Deep POV example:

Alice lifted the loaded gun, until the barrel rested flat against her forehead. What was wrong with the woman? Clearly if a bullet flew, there weren’t any brains in there to begin with.

5. Weave in internal monologue with action.

Sometimes writing can read like a grocery list. She did that. He did this. Then we all went home. Boring! Add in depth of emotion, sprinkled throughout the action.

POV example:

She sprinted down the alley, listening hard to hear if she was being followed. Chancing a glance over her shoulder, she stumbled but kept going. When the alley opened into a street, she finally slowed down. No one had followed her.

Deep POV example:
She sprinted down the alley. Oh, God. What a horrible place to die. Chancing a glance over her shoulder, she stumbled. Sweet mercy! Don’t fall. Don’t fall. Pumping her legs, she picked up her pace. No. She’d have none of death. Not here. Not now. When the alley opened into a street, she finally slowed down. Alone, but not defeated. Victory never tasted so sweet.

There you have it. The easiest way to remember how to write in deep POV is simply to imagine your scenes through the eyes and body of your character. Don’t just write him. Be him. Give some of these tips a whirl in your current WIP and pretty soon you’ll automatically be writing in deep POV.

But don’t get too used to it. You never know what new writerly trend will be coming down the pike next.

About the Author . . .

Michelle Griep’s been writing since she first discovered blank wall space and Crayolas. She seeks to glorify God in all that she writes—except for that graffiti phase she went through as a teenager.

She resides in the frozen tundra of Minnesota, where she teaches history and writing classes for a local high school co-op. An Anglophile at heart, she runs away to England every chance she gets, under the guise of research. Really, though, she’s eating excessive amounts of scones.

Follow her adventures at her blog WRITER OFF THE LEASH or visit, and don’t forget the usual haunts of PinterestFacebook or Twitter.

About the Book: Writer Off the Leash . . .

Are you a writer at heart? How can you tell? And if you are, how do you go about composing and selling the next Great American Novel?

WRITER OFF THE LEASH answers these questions and more--all in an easy to understand, tongue-in-cheek style. This is more than a how-to book. It's a kick in the pants for anyone who wants to write but is stymied by fear, doubt, or simply doesn't know how to take their writing to the next level. Award-winning author MICHELLE GRIEP blows the lid off stodgy old-school rulebooks and makes it clear that writing can--and should--be fun.


  1. Great article. Love the examples!

  2. I enjoyed the examples too. I took an online course years ago over deep POV. Never bad to have a refresher though. :) Thanks!

  3. These are great! Sharing this post!

  4. You've changed my POV on older books;) I didn't realize that head-hopping was allowed at that time. Also, A Heart Deceived is on my to-read list

    1. Enjoy your visit to the past, Anna. And if you need a lighter read after that one, check out Brentwood's Ward.