My preferred genre is chick lit/women’s fiction. These genres lend themselves to an intimate relationship with the protagonist. Like getting to know a close friend. Writing in first person for these genres is what is most comfortable for me. (A fact learned after switching from third to first person more than 50 pages into two different novels.) First person allows me to slip easily into the mind of my character and take readers there with me.
But how can you achieve this goal when first person isn’t the most conducive option? This was the question I faced when undertaking my latest story, a romantic thriller told primarily from the perspective of the hero.
First person wasn’t a good fit for this story. Still, I wanted the reader to slip inside the protagonist’s skin and feel what he was feeling, understand why he’d made the choices he did. I tried my to do this using third person, but it wasn’t intimate enough. Then I discovered a technique that allowed me to step back, but still get inside of the head of my character–close third, or deep point of view.
Deep POV is the use of third person in a manner which allows readers to see, hear, and feel the action as the character does. Let’s look at an example.
Lydia was startled by the sound of a familiar voice. It was her neighbor, Nate Johnson. She was surprised he would return to her bakery after their awful date last night.
In the third person example we know that Lydia is surprised Nate would return to her bakery after their awful date last night, but we feel a bit removed from the situation.
Close Third Person (or Deep POV)
Lydia’s spine stiffened as she clenched the carafe’s handle. Hot coffee splashed onto the floor. It couldn’t be. Nate Johnson wouldn’t dare show his face here after their train wreck of a date last night. She turned slowly. Her scowl softened as she took in every inch of his delicious, six-foot frame. So maybe he was better at second dates.
In the second example, we are still in third person, but the distance has been erased. We’re experiencing the scene from Lydia’s point of view, not from the perspective of a random, objective observer. We not only see her reaction to hearing Nate’s voice, but we understand why she’s surprised he would dare show his face again. We also discern that, despite their disastrous date last night, Lydia is still quite attracted to Nate and ready to give him a chance to redeem himself.
Close third person or deep POV is an excellent tool that enables storytellers to engage readers and get them invested in our characters. Got a third person passage you need to kick up a notch? Give it the deep POV treatment and post it in the comments below.
Want to try the technique, but you’re not sure how? Come back on Thursday and we’ll share our favorite resource for helping you turn your manuscript into a deep POV masterpiece.
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