The Secret Mystery Behind Deep POV

The Secret Mystery Behind Deep POV

There have been a lot of discussion lately about Deep POV with different blogs and articles asking:

  • What is Deep POV?
  • Why should I care?
  • Why should I learn it?
  • What does it look like?

While Deep POV may appear like a new topic, it’s actually been around for a long, long time. You know the adage of what goes around comes around, right? Some say Deep POV appeared 20 years ago, others say 40; in any regard, Deep POV has come around again.

Aristotle’s three-act structure—four equal acts as the second act is two parts—was recycled into a template by Syd Fields for screenwriters.

Joseph Campbell’s hero’s journey was recycled into a writer-friendly how-to/reference book by Christopher Vogler’s The Writer’s Journey.

Both Fields and Vogler’s work and their structural pieces and parts have been renamed, recycled just enough to be a tad different, and re-introduced as something new by writers turned instructors, mentors, speakers, or entrepreneurs. All of today’s programs and models can be traced back to someone else’s prior work or discovery.

Likewise, Deep POV was recycled from an earlier named element/style of writing.

Deep POV occurs when the reader experiences the main character’s actions, thoughts, and decisions up close and personal. As in their head and heart, feeling their joy and their pain.

Have you figured out what Deep POV really is yet?

As a new writer, you learned about Deep POV while attending your first writer’s conference, while reading your first how-to book regarding the craft of writing fiction, while reading about it in your first writing magazine subscription. You’ve been reading about it in blogs and articles for years, and hear its advice in any gathering of writers talking about the craft. You just knew it under a different name.

So, what does Deep POV look like?

Example #1:

He walked into the conference room, noticing all his employees were seated at the table. “This is crap,” he said angrily, throwing down mock-ups of the print ads for their newest client. “You can do better than this.” He turned and left the room, wondering if his being angry would make a difference in their performance.

Example #2:

The door thudded again the wall. All heads turned toward him as he strode into the conference room and was at the huge table in three steps. With jerky thrusts, he tossed each of the print ads for their newest client down the center of the table, each sliding the length, coming to a stop at the edge opposite him. While they had glanced at each page as it slid down the table, now their gazes were back on him, their eyes wide with fear. Good. Now to make them pee their pants. “Stop giving me this crap or heads are going to roll.”  He spun on his heels and with huge steps, strode out of the room the same way he came in. He smiled as he headed for his office. Maybe now they’d do their jobs.

Which example has your attention? Did your eyes widen while reading the second?

These two examples are the difference between using Deep POV and not using it.

To speak of Deep POV in its earlier term, this is the difference between SHOW vs. TELL


In the first example, we’re being told how he feels through the use of the dialogue tag, he said angrily. We watch his actions as if he’s on stage and we’re sitting in the audience.

In the second example, there is no tag. None. Surprised? Did you notice?

In the second example, we experience his actions and his feelings as they happen. We aren’t being told anything. It’s as if we’re in his head, on stage right beside him, or in his head. We’re feeling and moving as he feels and moves.

We don’t have to be told he’s angry. We can feel the anger.

Look at the books that you’re reading: Are you being told being shown? How many dialogue tags are there?

A big clue when telling occurs is the added use of adverbs (-ly words) in the dialogue tags and words like thought, felt, wondered.

I don’t know about you, but I welcome the book that I can’t put down because I’ve become that character—I’m in their head, feeling their emotions with their thoughts becoming mine. I become emotionally invested in the characters.

Versus the book I can’t get into because I’m being told how they feel, thus I’m not emotionally invested. It becomes too easy to put the book down and not finish it. Anymore, if I’m not emotionally hooked or curious within the first few pages, I can’t read it.

Showing creates page-turning books that grip you and then don’t let go.

What type of books are you reading or writing? Those with a Deep POV or those without?


About Diana Stout

Screenwriter, author, former English professor
This entry was posted in #amwriting, Characters, Writer at Work and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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