In first person narration, one character tells the whole story. The reader views and understands everything through one person’s eyes. Note this method used by debut author, Ladonna Cole, in a fantasy YA, The Torn:
“No, Greg, You did not create them, but you can
control them. Tell them to go away.”
He grimaced at me and his face cracked with
grief. I knew he didn’t believe me, yet, I was
determined to convince him.
Notice the use of the letter “I”, and the word, “we.” The protagonist, Kate, tells the story. Readers know nothing away from what she sees, feels, hears, experiences.
I tell the story in my debut YA novel, Victoria and the Ghost, in third person. Notice the difference from this quote:
back fence and began her work. Squatting hurt her legs.
When she plopped her hips on the hard ground and stretched
the kinks from her legs, she heard rattling. Movement
caught her peripheral vision.
Notice in that excerpt, there’s no “I” or “we.” Instead, it’s “Victoria” and “she” that tells the events.
Several years ago, an agent described my third person novel as being in omniscient point-of-view.” I didn’t understand the criticism until I recently read an article by Mark Canter in my copy of the RWR magazine (put out by Romance Writers of America).
Canter says third person can be told in two forms, limited and omniscient. He describes omniscient as the narrator being a “disembodied witness who hovers over the characters and their actions, telling the reader exactly what’s going on externally and also inside each character’s heads.” His definition of limited third person is picking one character at a time and experiencing the story as if the reader is that character.
Years ago, I took a course called Deep Point-of-View. The teacher used this phrase as a method to put the reader into the character’s skin, not just hearing about it from the character.
Calvin watched the man lift a gun and point it with shaky fingers at Calvin. Fear swept over him. He halted wondering if he could overpower his enemy in time to live.
Calvin’s heart bounced with each bob of the gun. He took one step, two …. Sweat trickled down his temple. Click. The next sound would be a bang, but by then, he would be dead. His legs froze.
Which example puts you better into the character’s skin?
That’s deep POV.
Try writing your own examples, both hearing it through the POV character and then living it with the POV character. Feel the difference. Write like you’re experiencing it in real time.
Two more examples to help you get started:
Renee awoke and looked around her. A bright light was shining in her face. The wall was a stark white, but she saw colors moving around her bed. Her arm was restrained by an IV. She wondered if she was still in
Renee awoke and squinted against the bright light. A kaleidoscope of colors swirled against a stark white wall. An IV restrained one arm.
Was she still in
Both examples give the same information. The first gives the story through Renee’s eyes. In comparison, though the second one gives it through Renee’s point of view, too, the reader lives it with her.
Deep POV uses more active verbs, less passive.
Deep POV doesn’t use filtering words such as she saw or she looked.
Deep POV shows, doesn’t just tell.
Deep POV makes you feel it along with the character.
In Deep POV, the writing is tighter.
What about you?
Do you write omniscient third person or limited third person, better known as deep POV?
Other helpful sites on this topic are: