you're reading...
Writing Life

Deep POV

I'm not sure if I have posted about this before and if I have forgive me. Suzanne Brockmann's latest book in the Troubleshooters series Breaking the Rules is coming out in a week and I like browsing through her site as she usually has booklets with points for fellow writers.

In her ForceofNature booklet, she talks about Deep Point of View. I'm posting this from there. I like to read this every time I'm stuck with a scene because it always inspires me.  It's pretty long so I'm going to have it in parts.

From a writing workshop presented by SUZANNE BROCKMANN

“Did you get a chance to see what was wrong with the car?” Mama Bear called as
she turned up the heat on the stove. This porridge just wasn’t thickening fast enough
this morning.
Its current consistency made her feel queasy. Don’t barf. Don’t barf. She closed her
eyes as she stirred.
“What? You mean, between midnight, when I finished doing the taxes, and six a.m.
when Baby Bear woke me up?” Papa Bear didn’t sound in any better a mood this morning.
How was she going to tell him? He was always so worried about money—this was going
to be the last straw. Another mouth to feed.
And lately he’d been so distant—as if he were . . . No. No. The bear she’d married
would never cheat on her. Mama Bear refused to believe that possibility.
Finally—thank God—the porridge was ready. She quickly spooned it into three bowls,
giving herself far less than usual. She wouldn’t be able to keep it down, and Baby Bear
was in the middle of another growth spurt.
“Breakfast is ready,” she called, and Baby came running. She started to put the bowl
on the table in front of him, but stopped short. “Go and wash your paws.”
He looked up at her with his dark brown eyes—so like his father’s—as if he were
considering telling her he’d already done so. But he scampered down the hall to the
bathroom. He knew better than to lie to her.
Papa Bear hadn’t come into the kitchen, so she went into the living room and . . .
He was on that blasted computer again. Surfing the Internet when he should have
been out fixing their car.
“Breakfast,” she said again, impatience sharpening her voice, and he looked up, guilt on his
face as he quickly clicked the e-mail shut—e-mail from someone named . . . Goldilocks?
And the queasiness she’d been fighting for the past few days hit her hard. She ran for
the bathroom, pushing Baby Bear aside as the bile rose in her throat.
That look on Papa’s Bear face combined with that e-mail could mean only one thing
—that the only bear she’d ever loved was having an affair.

Let’s take another look at this exact same scene, this time from the hero’s POV:
“Did you get a chance to see what was wrong with the car?” Mama Bear called from
the kitchen.
Papa Bear scrolled quickly through the listings on Jobs dot-com. Jesus, these days
everyone was looking for rabbits. No one wanted a bear. Oh, yeah, except for the
Yellowstone Park Department. Like he was going to take a minimum wage gig, wearing
that stupid hat and walking around saying: “Only you can prevent forest fires,” after
being featured in the center ring at Barnum & Bailey.
“What? You mean, between midnight, when I finished doing the taxes, and six a.m.
when Baby Bear woke me up?” He closed his eyes. Damn it, that came out nastier than
he’d intended. Mama Bear wasn’t feeling well. He’d heard her get up last night, three or
four different times, to go to the bathroom.
But maybe she hadn’t heard him. She didn’t say anything and . . .
Papa Bear sighed. He had to tell her. He just had to go in there, eat his breakfast, then
look her in the eye and tell her. He’d been laid off.
“Breakfast is ready,” Mama Bear called.
Wait. Whoa. He’d gotten an e-mail from Goldilocks, who’d said . . . Yes! She had a
lead on a modeling job for a children’s book. They needed a big bear, someone his size . . .
Ah God, if that came through he wouldn’t have to tell Mama Bear about . . .
Shit, she was standing right behind him. He clicked his e-mail shut, and quickly
signed off.
“I’ll look at the car right after we eat,” he was just about to say, but she bolted. She flat
out tore down the hall for the bathroom, slamming the door shut behind her.
What the hell . . . ?

Same scene, same dialogue, same action—but two different points of view.
And two very different sets of secrets revealed to the reader, don’t you agree?

Point of view is a tool—one of the most important—that writers use to tell their stories. Like most writing tools, there is a wide variety of types of POV to choose from. Let’s get basic for a moment: Point of view (or POV) can best be described as a movie camera through which a reader can see and hear a story unfold. Omniscient point of view is the equivalent of a security camera, hanging overhead, recording the action that takes place within range of its lens. It reveals information to the reader impartially, without taking sides or having any opinion. It’s objective.

Subjective point of view is when the camera is attached to the top of one character’s head. The readers see and hear the action from that character’s perspective. We also can hear that character’s thoughts, if the writer chooses to share them with us. But if the writer moves the camera deeper—way down deep inside of that character’s head—we can not only see and hear what that character sees and hears, we not only know what he thinks and what he feels as he’s thinking and feeling it, but the writer also uses his words, his descriptions—his very voice—to tell the story. I call this deep point of view.

The deep POV that I used in the examples above is extremely subjective—it’s opinionated, if you will.
It’s one individual’s perception. The reader sees and hears the first example through only Mama Bear’s eyes. The reader gets deep inside her head and finds out everything that this character is feeling, thinking, worrying about. But here’s the catch: When I’m writing in Mama Bear’s deep POV, both Mama and the reader have
no access to the multitude of things that Papa Bear is feeling, thinking, worrying about. The reader (and
Mama Bear) can only guess. And the reader has the additional challenge of having to wade through
Mama Bear’s interpretations of what Papa Bear is feeling. (And Mama Bear may be wrong at times!)

Using deep POV is like writing a first person book. in the third person. Although, unlike most first
person stories, which usually have one single POV throughout the entire book, I’ve written books that
have two, four, even six or more different and equally deep POVs.

There are many POV options in the writers’ toolbox, most falling somewhere between extremely subjective
and extremely objective points of view. Here’s how I would list some of those many choices:

• first person (completely subjective)
• deep third person (as completely subjective as first person)
• third person (slightly subjective, with some distance created by a narrator’s objective voice)
• narrated third person (formal and only rarely subjective, with reader kept at arm’s length from characters by the narrator’s clear and objective voice)
• omniscient third person (formal and completely objective)

The entire booklet is here The section for writers is from page 53. The beginning part is more about her book and for her readers but it's fun to read anyway




  1. Pingback: Writing Felonies | !nkyEngineer - April 22, 2014

Subscribe via email

Join 108 other followers

Follow !nk + Engineer on WordPress.com

Some Kind of Wonderful Awards

SkoW Round 7 - Winner

SkoW Round 5- Nominee

%d bloggers like this: