Monday, February 8, 2016

Gut Wrenching Deep POV


Deep POV is a powerful writing technic that adds emotional depth to your stories. Can you learn the technic? Of course.
1.  Eliminate as many dialogue tags as possible.
2.  Never jerk the reader out of the protagonist's head using author intrusion.
3.  Only describe what your protagonist sees, hears, smells, tastes, and touches. 
-- ABSOLUTELY NOTHING ELSE --
Here's a direct quote you can quote me on:
 "If your protagonist don't know it, you don't write it." 
                                                                            -- Joylene Nowell Butler  
 I know what you're thinking.  If it's that easy, then why is writing in Deep POV difficult for so many writers?

Because writing in Deep POV requires a depth of emotion that scares the hell out of most of us. It makes us feel vulnerable. It's about reaching down and writing from the gut of your hero. And where are heroes born? In the minds of their authors, of course.

Despite those rejections piling up in your inbox, if you believe in your gut that your writing is good, then maybe, just maybe your writing is good. But is it gut-wrenching?

The Traveler by John Katzenbach:
She felt suddenly overcome by heat, as if one of the spotlights had singled her out, covering her with a solid beam of intense brightness. She gulped a great breath of air, then another, fighting a dizzying sensation. She remembered the moment years earlier when she'd realized that she was shot, that the warmth she felt was the lifeblood flowing from her, and she fought with the same intensity to prevent her eyes from rolling back, as if giving into the blackness of unconsciousness would be as fatal now as it would have been then. 

The Big Sky by A.B. Guthrie:
Serena turned from Boone and all at once seemed to see the hen lying forgotten on the table. She picked it up and rolled it in a rag and handed it to Boone. Her eyes wouldn't come level with his; they fixed themselves on his chest. Of a sudden he saw that she looked like a tired, sad rabbit, her eyes round and watery and her nose twitching. He felt his face twist suddenly and his throat knot and the tears about to come. He said, "Goodbye."

 Mr. Murder by Dean Koontz:
He looked around the office, where he had passed so many solitary hours in the concoction and solution of so many mysteries, where he had put uncounted characters through enormous travail and challenged them to find their way out of mortal danger. [...] He blotted his damp palms of his jeans. Having briefly lifted from him, dread settled again in the manner of Poe's mysterious raven perching above a chamber door. Walking from the trance, perceiving danger, he had expected to find the threat outside in the street or in the form of a burglar roaming through the rooms below. But it was worse than that. The threat was not external. Somehow, the wrongness was within him. 

It starts with believing you have what it takes to be a powerhouse of a writer. Next, put yourself deep, deep, DEEP inside the body, mind, and soul of your protagonist, and write your scenes from that place.

27 comments:

John said...

WoW, Impressive!

Pat Garcia said...

Thank you. You're so right writing from the deep POV approach is scary, because you get in touch with yourself and all those characters that are deep within you. However, you discover your voice or voices and that is beautiful.

Shalom,
Patricia

L. Diane Wolfe said...

It requires tapping deep into one's soul.

L.G. Keltner said...

I've never done deep POV, but I might make it a goal for the year to write a short story using it. Great post!

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

Thanks for sharing the examples. Deep POV is one of those things that it can be hard for a writer to understand exactly what it is.

Joylene Nowell Butler said...

Thanks for stopping by, everyone. Deep POV isn't the scary thing we think it is. Part of being human, writing characters that are as well-rounded and real as you can possibly make them is what Deep POV is all about. Kudos to those of you who take the plunge.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

I write third person just so I don't have to be in my character's head THAT much, so I probably couldn't do what it takes to write really deep POV.

Michelle Wallace said...

I think with deep POV, you have to lose yourself in the writing so that you BECOME the character. As a writer, you'll go places you've never been to before. Tricky. And scary.

Chrys Fey said...

"If your protagonist don't know it, you don't write it." Love that! Back when I first started out, my editor had to point out a couple of small things that I wrote that my character wouldn't have known.

Great examples!

Nicola said...

Thanks for such a great post!!

Joylene Nowell Butler said...

I bet you could, Alex. I hope you'll try a short piece one day. I think you'd find it easier than expected.

Michelle, that's been my experience, too.

Pat Hatt said...

Great examples, don't think I've ever gone that deep.

lorilmaclaughlin.com said...

Thanks for a thought-provoking post. Those examples illustrate deep POV so well.

Christine Rains said...

Fantastic post. I have never written deep POV, but those examples are awesome.

Tamara Narayan said...

I switched to first person POV on a whim several years ago and now it's almost impossible to write from third. Go figure.

cleemckenzie said...

I've closed three books this year already before reading on just because I really didn't care for the dialogue. It didn't ring true and I couldn't lose myself in the story. I think a lot of that was because the author kept putting him/herself between the character and me.

Suzanne Furness said...

Very interesting. I am going to think about deep POV a lot more now.

Robyn Campbell said...

What a fabulous post. This is something I've never tried. But wanted to. Who knows? Maybe the next novel. I'll have to tape your quote beside my desk. :-)

Patricia Lynne said...

I found a writing book that was really helpful with deep POV. I think it was "Rivet your readers with deep POV."

diedre Knight said...

Great tips! It's been my experience that allowing your characters to tell their own stories - you can always refine it later - gives them the freedom to enchant and surprise - even you, the writer ;-)

Sherry Ellis said...

I've never done a deep POV, but it certainly seems to mean you have to focus and really feel what it's like to be inside your character's head.

s/v La Vita said...

This is exactly what I'm trying to understand. Fits with my goal: make my writers cringe, cry, and chuckle. Because, I'm a novice, would you clear up a couple of points?

Rule: The idea is to eliminate as many dialog tags (he said, she asked, she replied).
1. Can the writing include dialog and be gut wrenching?
Rule: Never jerk the reader out of the protagonist's head using author intrusion.
2. Is 'author intrusion' the same as the narrator voice? Is it the telling part of the story?
Perfect timing. Thank you!

rolandclarke.com said...

First, apologies for not being active as a crit reader - distracted by another genre. Second, attempting to turn 3rd POV into 3rd Deep... and a 3rd deep into 1st deeper. Tough but rewarding challenge.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Joylene - you've thrown up some interesting thoughts for the serious writer - I can see what you're saying and the phrase ... "If your protagonist don't know it, you don't write it." Putting yourself into your characters shoes must be challenging at times - but essential as you point out .. cheers Hilary

Joylene Nowell Butler said...

Thanks, everyone.

J.L. Campbell said...

For me, t's the only way to write, Joylene.

Jessica said...

Believe it or not this is the pov that is working for my dark fantasy. :3 I tried two others (I stopped after twenty chapters and changed the pov type, twice.) Deep pov is the one that's making the people I have reading my book go: Wow!

Boom shoka-locka- xD

It's hard as hell sometimes to figure out how to show an emotion at times. Expecually when the same character has the same emotion more then once; trying to figure out how to show it diffidently can be a real pain.

Or like, disgust seems easy right? What if it happens 2-3 times in the book? You can't use the same description. >_< I've really had to stretch my brain on this just exactly what does this emotion look like any ways, what does it feel like? Yeek. The emotion lists for writers realy arn;t much help, they are too flat.