Deep POV

POV (Point of view) is difficult for new writers to master.
–  Use all of your POV character’s senses not just sight.
–  What does he smell, hear, taste, and feel?
–  Don’t jump from POV character to POV character (aka head hopping).
–  The POV character can’t know what others feel, he can only observe reactions and facial expressions.

Then, just when you think you’ve finally got it down, someone throws the term ‘Deep POV’ at you. What the….?

So, during a recent trip to Romance University when I read a post by author Karin Harlow in which deep POV was mentioned, I took the opportunity to ask about it. And this is Karin’s response:

Straight POV is where the character thinks and sees on the surface. i.e. It was raining, and she didn’t like the rain.

Deep POV is: The rain always brought back the haunting memories of her little sister, and the day she died. The scent of damp leaves, the feel of the accusing, cold rain digging into her skin, the rumbling thunder in the sky that somehow made its way into her heart, a constant reminder that Jenny would be alive today if she had just done her job.


Deep POV is also referred to as Limited Third Person. It takes you deep inside your character, showing not only what he feels in response to a situation, but why he feels that way. It adds a depth of emotion to a scene. In order to achieve deep POV a writer must dig deep into their characters’ personalities and motivations. In a sense they become the character, allowing the reader to view the inner workings of the POV character’s mind and thus experience the scene as the POV character does. The reader does more than read a story they live it.

These are the types of stories I want to write!

What’s your experience with deep POV? Do you write in it? Do you have examples of regular POV vs. deep POV you’d like to share? Can you recommend authors who excel at deep POV?

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  • Harlow
    Posted May 12, 2010 at 11:13 PM | Permalink

    Hi, Wendy! I'm so glad my example helped. Depth of POV can be tricky. I just try to write from my character's soul, and when that happens the depth naturally rises to the top. 🙂

  • Angela
    Posted May 12, 2010 at 11:25 PM | Permalink

    Great breakdown. Described this way, regular POV sounds like telling, Deep POV, showing.

    Angela @ The Bookshelf Muse

  • Wendy Marcus
    Posted May 12, 2010 at 11:25 PM | Permalink

    Thanks for stopping by, Karin. Your example helped me to really understand deep POV, and I hope it will also help those who visit my blog!

    For you paranormal lovers, Karin's highly anticipated book, Enemy Lover, is coming out May 25, 2010.

  • Wendy Marcus
    Posted May 13, 2010 at 12:05 AM | Permalink

    Thanks for visiting, Angela!
    For anyone not familiar with Angela's blog, she has an entertaining story about a spider and her beautiful hot tub posted.

  • Terri
    Posted May 13, 2010 at 12:06 AM | Permalink

    The universally-loathed book of my heart was so deep POV that it was first person, present tense. Apparently one of the reasons why it remains the universally-loathed book of my heart. But it did change my perspective on deep third.
    Funny you posted this at this moment. I just posted an interview with one of my characters over at my place. Kind of the same theme. What ARE you about, Character Boy?

  • Wendy Marcus
    Posted May 13, 2010 at 1:08 AM | Permalink

    Thanks for stopping by, Terri.

    I've read that if you stay in deep POV too long readers get tired of it. It's best for actions scenes.

    And great post. Gotta get me some of your pictures!

  • Harlow
    Posted May 13, 2010 at 5:17 AM | Permalink

    I agree, Wendy too much deep POV bogs downs the pace. Same with too much description. I'm an action girl myself!

  • Regina Richards
    Posted May 13, 2010 at 10:58 AM | Permalink

    I agree that deep pov should be used with care. Thanks for this topic, Wendy. You have me thinking, and looking through my work to see where I might have too much and where I might need a little more deep pov.

  • Wendy Marcus
    Posted May 13, 2010 at 3:15 PM | Permalink

    Me too, Karin. I like a fast moving story I can't put down!

    Hi Regina and your welcome!
    For those not familiar with Regina's blog she has a fantastic post about her recent experience with a drunk hairdresser. It should not be missed!

  • Wendy Marcus
    Posted May 13, 2010 at 3:22 PM | Permalink

    Of course that should be YOU'RE welcome! I'm rushing.

  • Shelley Sly
    Posted May 13, 2010 at 11:18 PM | Permalink

    I love deep POV, but only when it's used at the most appropriate times. If the character relates rain to her sister's death, and it's relevant to the story, that's helpful and even powerful. But if a character is just musing about how these curtains remind her of her grandmother, who isn't relevant to the story, then it's just extra words for the reader. Overall, I do like deep POV though. Great post!

  • Wendy Marcus
    Posted May 14, 2010 at 1:05 AM | Permalink

    Thanks for stopping by, Shelley! I guess you're feeling better if you're back to blogging. I hope your return to work was without incident!

  • John Baron
    Posted May 14, 2010 at 2:23 AM | Permalink

    The "limited" part of the "limited third person" actually refers to being in only one person's head. The "third person" part means the narrator is not one of the characters. When we're talking "deep POV", I believe the proper term is "subjective."

    So if you're talking about "subjective third person," you'd be able to shift viewpoint characters while delving into their deepest feelings. "Limited subjective third person" would be the same but limited to only being in the head of a single character.

    I like the full-blown LSTR — anything else feels like channel-surfing rather than watching a film. Show, rather than tell. Even so, pace is all important, and you can't let your story get bogged down.

  • Wendy Marcus
    Posted May 14, 2010 at 3:38 AM | Permalink

    Thanks, John!
    In my research I saw it mentioned that deep POV can feel like first person POV. And yet it's not. I don't mind reading first person books, but sometimes I long to see another character's POV. In my writing I like the ability to shift between viewpoint characters.

  • Liz
    Posted May 15, 2010 at 12:35 AM | Permalink

    I would like to think I have moments of deep pov….hmmmm…will have to go thru manuscript. Thanks!

  • Christine
    Posted May 16, 2010 at 1:39 PM | Permalink

    I love this explanation. I am striving to reach deeper POV all the time. One idea given me was to write it in first person, then switch to third. Thanks for sharing the link, too.

  • Wendy Marcus
    Posted May 16, 2010 at 2:28 PM | Permalink

    Thanks for stopping by Liz and Christine!

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