Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Some Deep Point of View tips

Camy here! I’m breaking my own rule about short blog posts because I got a few questions recently about deep point of view, and I thought it might be nice to give a few quick and dirty tips for how to deepen your character’s point of view in a manuscript.

(For those of you not familiar with the phrase, “deep point of view,” the point of going deeper in your limited third person point of view is to stick the reader in your character’s skin. This will often result in a more powerful emotional experience for your reader.)

Don’t name the emotion.

Many times, when a writer names an emotion, it distances the reader from the character. For example:

Anxiety trembled in her stomach.

Anger coursed through her.

She shivered as fear tiptoed down her spine.

Readers don’t fully feel the emotion when they simply read the words anxiety, anger, fear, etc.

They feel the emotion when they’re in the character’s body and head, feeling the physical sensations, acting with the character, thinking their thoughts, speaking their words.

An electric mixer in her stomach scrambled her insides.

Her body went rigid and her clawed hands trembled, a thread away from ripping the smile off his face.

A ghostly fingertip drew down her spine, freezing her shoulder blades together.

As with anything, moderation is the key—if the sentence flows better and is more powerful by naming the emotion, there’s no rule that says you can’t do it.

Eliminate “telling” verbs.

By “telling” verbs, I mean phrases like “he wondered,” “she realized,” “he saw,” “she felt,” etc.

He wondered if he’d ever return to her.

She realized he wasn’t the man she thought he was.

He decided to follow her.

She felt cold.

These “telling” verbs tend to distance the reader from the character rather than sticking the reader in the character’s skin.

Would he ever return to her? (By eliminating “he wondered,” the reader is thinking his thoughts with him.)

He wasn’t the man she thought he was.

He turned around and followed her. (This combines action with decision, which draws the reader along because something is happening.)

Cold. Her feet had disappeared. Her fingers wouldn’t move. The shivering had taken over her entire body. (Here, we d help the reader actually feel the character’s physical sensations.)

Show immediate emotional reactions in physical, thought, dialogue, action.

This isn’t a hard and fast rule, but often a character’s reaction to something usually follows this order:

(1) physical (gut or involuntary) reaction
(2) thought
(3) dialogue
(4) purposeful action

If you write a character’s reaction in this order, it will usually give a stronger visual picture in your reader’s mind, and the reader herself will almost feel the reactions with your character.

You don't have to use all four reactions. Go with the flow of the scene. Sometimes I only use one or two (like physical and thought, or thought and dialogue, etc.), whatever "feels" right to me when I write the scene.

One thing to remember--use vivid imagery for your reader and avoid clichés.

Don't have your heroine’s heart leap for joy. Instead:

For a wild moment, she thought, He's come to see me. And her heart twirled in a riotous dance." –Moi, Deadly Intent

Don’t have your hero go on red alert. Instead:

Follow your gut, Pete's first sergeant used to remind him. Right now, his gut was screaming that something wasn't on the up-and-up about this late-night rendezvous. –Debby Giusti, Protecting Her Child

Look at your own character's emotional reactions. Are they in the right order? Are they vivid?

Rewrite thoughts to be more immediate.

Many times, meandering thoughts are “telling” the reader information purely for the sake of the story.

Sarah wondered why he wanted to see her. She was only the housemaid, not a member of the family, and Lord Griffith hated her.

Sarah wouldn’t be likely to say to herself, “I’m only Josephine’s housemaid, not a member of the family, and Mr. Griffith hates me.” She knows all that already so she wouldn’t tell it to herself.

But she’d emotionally react to her knowledge of those facts, and her emotional reaction will draw the reader into her emotions, too.

Why would Lord Griffith want her, of all people? To further humiliate the housemaid? Her gut involuntarily clenched at the fleeting vision of his spit flying in her face, his gaze blacker than the coat of his prize-winning horse.

Don’t make it easy for your reader. Instead, make the reader work to discover clues about the characters.

Describe things as your point of view character would describe them.

Think of your character’s personality and life experiences. The language of the narrative—even though it’s in third person—would still closely reflect the character’s own word choices.

My heroine, Naomi Grant, wouldn’t describe her own father as Mr. Grant (unless they had a different sort of relationship and she was used to referring to her father as Mr. Grant, which would be a whole other set of neuroses). She’d be more likely to think of him as “Dad” or “my dad” or “my father.”

Word choice, descriptions, and grammar styles should differ from character to character as you switch point of views in your story.

Eat and leave. That’s all she had to do.

If Grandma didn’t kill her first for being late.

Lex Sakai raced through the open doorway to the Chinese restaurant and was immediately immersed in conversation, babies’ wails, clashing perfumes, and stale sesame oil. She tripped over the threshold and almost turned her ankle. Stupid pumps. Man, she hated wearing heels.

--Camy Tang, Sushi for One?
(forgive me for using so many of my own examples, but it’s just easier for me)

Compare to:

Andrea O’Malley paused on the threshold of the Chinese restaurant. She wasn’t sure if she liked the exotic smells that teased her nose—spices she couldn’t name, as well as nutty sesame oil, salty-sweet oyster sauce, pungent soy sauce. She patted her French twist, which didn’t need fiddling with. She couldn’t help it—she was a golden-haired alien in the midst of these black-haired party guests. At least she hadn’t dressed inappropriately—the other guests stood talking in clusters, the women in short silk dresses like her own.

Don’t describe things/people/settings—instead, experience them through your viewpoint character.

If you write nice sentences of colorful description of a person, setting, or object, there’s limited emotional involvement since the description could be coming from another person in the room, not necessarily your viewpoint character.

Instead, give your character’s emotional reaction to the description. Several things will happen:

(a) The description become more interesting because it will be from your viewpoint character’s eyes.

(b) The language of the description will reflect your viewpoint character (versus your own author voice).

(c) The reader becomes more involved in the description because it will have a more emotional element.

Here’s an excerpt from the original version of my manuscript, The Corinthian Rules (which got completely rewritten into Only Uni):

“All right, you lovely single ladies, come on up for the bouquet toss.”

Rats. She should have sneaked off to the restroom earlier.

Trish Sato ducked to hide from the sweeping gaze of the Master of Ceremonies, her skeletal Uncle Charley. He stood at the front of the large banquet room in his rumpled black tuxedo, his wisps of wiry grey hair floating several inches above his near-bald head. Light from the overhead fluorescent fixtures glared on his oversized glasses as he swung his head back and forth, seeking innocent maidens to capture.

(Not the most original of descriptions, I’m rather embarrassed at how cliché much of it is. But hey, I wrote it 6 years ago.)

You’ll notice a small bit of emotional involvement in the description, because Uncle Charley is shown as “seeking innocent maidens to capture,” and only a single woman like Trish would think of him that way—her mother or aunties certainly wouldn’t think that.

However, the emotion there is minimal at best.

Here’s the rewrite for a short story I’m working on (I offered the new, revised short story as a freebie for my newsletter subscribers, which was why I revived this monstrosity):

Rats. She should have sneaked off to the restroom earlier.

“All right, you lovely single ladies, come on up for the bouquet toss.”

Trish Sakai dropped her head to hide behind Aunt Amber’s permed curls, nearly dunking her chin in her rice bowl. Had Uncle Charley seen her? Hopefully he couldn’t see much of anything through his oversized glasses and the glare from his near-bald head.

She peeked around Aunt Amber, risking a quick glance at the front of the large banquet room. The skeletal Master of Ceremonies hovered in his rumpled black tuxedo, so she ducked back before he saw her. Why hadn’t someone stopped him from those last few shots of sake? Then he wouldn’t be so aggressive about the bouquet toss now. He swung his head back and forth, seeking innocent maidens to capture.

You’ll notice more action and more of Trish’s emotional reactions (primarily through her thoughts) to the description sentences.

Go through your own manuscript and look for descriptions. Are they simply descriptions, or do they spring from the viewpoint character’s eyes and thoughts?

Go deep in revisions, not first drafts.

This will vary from writer to writer, but in general, it’s usually best to deepen point of view in your revisions. In your first draft, just slap those words down on the page and don’t worry about point of view at all.

Just lay it down and come back to revise it later. You might even be surprised at the kinds of things you come up with.

Camy Tang writes romance with a kick of wasabi. Her novels Single Sashimi and Deadly Intent are out now. She runs the Story Sensei critique service, is a staff worker for her church youth group, and leads one of the worship teams for Sunday service. On her blog, she gives away Christian novels every week and ponders frivolous things. Sign up for her newsletter YahooGroup for monthly giveaways!


Helen Gray said...


Some deep thoughts--helpful as usual.



Tina Dee Books said...

Ohhh, I love this subject! Thank you so much, dear Camy! Great post!

Vince said...

Hi Camy:

This is very deep material. I don’t think I will really understand it without first actually doing it.

You wrote:

“Word choice, descriptions, and grammar styles should differ from character to character as you switch point of views in your story.”

Would you say then that just as one should be able to recognize a speaker from the dialogue alone, that one should also be able to recognize the current point of view character from the descriptions and grammar alone?

This would seem to add a bewildering level of complexity to writing. Is this customization something you try to do in every case where it is possible or is it something you do every so often for effect?

Which of your books would you recommend as being the most exemplary of deep POV? I want to read it with this post in mind.




Cathy Shouse said...


I've heard some about deep POV but I think yours is the most helpful explanation. The example about the revised "Uni" is especially good. It's also a reminder that we can improve as we go and won't be in the same place with writing year to year.

That cheers me this morning :)

It's chilly in Indiana so I'm back to oatmeal with massive amounts of brown sugar. There's plenty for everyone.

And if you like your sugar straight to the veins, I just remembered I've got some icing-drenched cinnamon rolls.

Fat Tom said...

This is great! I feel like I should pull this out and re-read it every time I sit down to write. Thank you!

Tina M. Russo said...

Java? Did anyone put on the coffee? You know the rules.

Cathy, cinnamon rolls. Thank you.

Camy, this is just amazing. You and Suzanne Brockmann, the queens of Deep POV. I too am printing this out right now.

Audra Harders said...

I'm still on a pumpkin binge, got plenty around here!

Pumpkin muffins and rich, strong French roast coffee have been added to the buffet : )

Loved the reminder, Camy! No matter how hard I try to incorporate the emotional element in my first drafts, I get lazy and fall back on the *telling.*

Drives me nuts.

BUT, that's what revisions and polish were made for. Thanks for the words of wisdom, Camy. I'm printing this off and adding it to my notebook of *be mindful of...*

Julie Lessman said...

Oh-oh ... I'm in big trouble here ... I break every rule here ... A LOT!! YIKES!! Better print this one off for sure ... :)

Thanks for the great explanation on deep POV ... I agree with Cathy -- it's best explanation I've heard.


Sandra Leesmith said...

Camy girl, what a super post. I do sooooo need this. And I really like how you said to not worry about it in the first draft, but to revise later--deepen later. I am finding this so helpful. During the BIAW I discovered how much I can write and it is so much fun to go back and revise when you already have the core written.

Thanks for the goodies ladies. Audra, I love pumpkin stuff. Even have pumpkin spice candles in the motorhome. sweet.

And Cathy, thanks for the healthy oatmeal. Have lots to do today. smile

Pepper Basham said...

Oh Camy,
Thanks for this. It was so helpful and the examples were great in helping me 'see' what I need to do.

Another thanks for saying that deep writing isn't for the first draft. Oh thanks. What a relief! I put so much pressure on myself to 'fix' things before moving on (sometimes) and giving these tools to go back and correct things later, is so helpful.

Tight writing is where I need to improve and deepinging point of view also tightens writing.

mary bailey said...

This has been a very helpful post. Thanks, Camy!

Pepper Basham said...

I agree with Tom. I need to print this out before I start writing everyday, just as a reminder.

Susan Anne Mason said...

Hey Camy:

Wonderful! I have been struggling with this whole Deep POV issue. We even had a speaker at one of our chapter meetings whose whole presentation was DEEP POV and I didn't get one thing out of it. You put it so simply. THANK YOU.

I, too, will print this out and keep it handy for reference when I'm revising!

Thanks again to everyone on this blog who shares their expertise. It's so gracious of you all! (Oh, and thanks for the cyber-goodies, too. Especially the caffeine!)

Have a great day!


PS. Julie, you may break some rules, but you are the Queen of Deep POV for me! Whenever I have to write an emotional scene, I read one of yours first - for inspiration!

Mary Connealy said...

This is actually a pet peeve of mine (which doesn't mean I'm not guilty of it in my own writing) but to's writers who are at the next level who make these mistakes.

I'll try to explain...of course Camy already did but bear with me. :)

We soon learn that it's PASSIVE to say,

He felt angry.

She felt sad.

We know this is dead writing.
So we learn, we step it up.

His stomach churned with anger.

Her heart ached with sadness.

And those second examples are my pet peeve because it's STILL PASSIVE.

It's at the next level of skill but it needs to go. Camy's examples are terrific.

Her heart ached with sadness needs to be, Her heart ached.

Or, in cowboy speak, It hurt worse than when her favorite saddle pony broke his leg.

Or his approval soothed her like a warm bath on a cold night.

Okay, these examples I'm giving are pathetic. Sorry. :)

But...Yes, get away from the straightforward He Felt Angry. But also get away from Anger churned in his gut.

Go deeper than that. Do better, give it charm and touch on an experience others can feel with you. It draws the reader in.

So they feel happy. And their hearts dance with joy.

Mary Connealy said...

Vince you commented on this:
“Word choice, descriptions, and grammar styles should differ from character to character as you switch point of views in your story.”

A really well done character should be carried into not just their dialogue, but also their internal thoughts, including the way they think about what goes on around them.

Sometimes this is really hard if you've got characters with similar backgrounds, you can't go from the Southern Belle thought processes,

The little darlin' didn't have a brain in her head, bless her heart.

To the Yankee soldier's thought processes,

He looked at the little woman and swore on the sabre handed down from his father, that he'd

Okay, I'm exhausted, but really great characterization goes all the way to the bone, every word, every thought, every description. And yeah, it's kinda hard. :)

If it wasn't everyone would do it.

Ruth and Lacey said...

Camy with a long post.

Unheard of.

Nice examples, Toots.

And Susanne, nice way to suck up to Jules there.


We can't live with her NOW...

Then you go and tell her stuff like that.

SIGH.... It'll take days, nay, weeks to bring her down to size.


Jules, remember Margie's post...

Some things are understandably rule breakers for effect. Gotta have effect.

Grabbing coffee greedily.



Ruth Logan Herne said...

Oops, sorry, forgot I was doing dog stuff this AM...

But what cute dogs, LOL!


Anyway, it's really just ME.

Lacey's teaching wonderful kids great ways to avoid STD's...

She's a high school health teacher.

But she'd agree with everything you said, Camster!

The Real Ruthy

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Mary, you make my heart dance with joy all the time.

But I LOVE that you cited this so well.

You made the example (much like Camy did) WORK in the context of the book and that's a huge step.

To make your analogies 'fit' the framework of the conflict, or the profession, or the lifestyle. SWEET.

Just sayin'...

Camy Tang said...

Morning everyone! I'm actually up early enough to comment in the AM for once!

Helen--you're welcome!

Tina Dee--LOL Glad you like this subject!

Vince--It's true, it's easier to understand once you actually do it. And yes, ideally, the reader would be able to recognize the POV character from the descriptions and grammar, but that isn't always the case because unless all your characters have wildly different grammar and word choices, two characters may sound alike at least for the first few sentences. However, this isn't as complex as it would seem. If you craft characters who are unique and interesting, they will naturally differ in the way they view the world and describe it, which will come out in the language of the POV character.

Cathy--I am ALWAYS trying to improve! Brandilyn Collins once said that authors are always learning, they never "make it." I have taken that advice to heart. Yum! Oatmeal sounds good to me, too!

Fat Tom--you're welcome! I'm glad this is useful for you!

Tina--aw, thanks, girl! And thanks for the coffee, I forgot to start the pot.

Audra--I love pumpkin! In fact, we just got a few from our organic co-op. I love baking them with butter and brown sugar! I also have a pasta recipe I want to try this year, spaghetti with pumpkin chunks and sage. And you're right, this is definitely just Revision advice, not for when we're writing the first draft (like I am right now with my current WIP).

Julie--These aren't really rules, darlin'! Breaking them is totally acceptable, and in fact, good, because you don't want an entire book in deep POV, that can take the story places you don't want to go. It can also make for melodramatic storytelling or just TMI (too much information that the reader doesn't need to know). But knowing these deep POV techniques can help spice up and polish a first draft to make it richer and deeper emotionally. Don't go overboard and change everything! Moderation is the key.

Sandra--I love BIAW because it makes me just write and not think about all this stuff! Deep POV is always what I do in revisions, not in the first draft.

Pepper--no pressure! Try to get out of the habit of "fixing" things as you write and just write! You'll come up with really great stuff when you do!

Mary--you're welcome! :)

Susan--thanks! I'm glad you liked this article--I tend to think logically and linearly, so when I started analyzing deep POV for myself, these are the things I came up with to break it down so I could understand it myself!

Mary! OMG your examples are great! Thanks for posting those!

Ruthy--LOL Julie's head isn't THAT big. ;) Besides, you have to love someone that sweet.


Rose said...


Great advice and examples.


Vince said...

Hi Camy and Mary:

My question is this: Is there a place today for objective description in the author’s voice?

Consider this quote from one of my favorite authors: Betty Neels.

“It was a blustery October afternoon and the dark skies had turned the sea to a dull grey, its sullen waves eddying to and fro on the deserted beach. Not quite deserted, for a girl was walking there, stopping now and again to stare seawards, stooping to pick up a stone and hurl it out to sea and then walk on again. She looked small and lonely with so much emptiness around her, and certainly she was both, but only because there was no one there to see.”

Page 5, Discovering Daisy

Would this passage be redlined today? I love reading this writing. I see nothing wrong with it. Have any of these theories on deep POV been tested in a controlled experiment to see which provides the greater reading enjoyment?

Theoretically I agree that deep POV, active voice, and ‘showing’ rather than ‘telling’, is preferred in most cases but is there any proof of this besides a general consensus among professional writers?

I’m thinking about some popular romance authors who write a book in six to eight weeks. I just don’t think they can be doing this yet they sell a lot of books.

I must admit I find this very complex because it is one of those areas where you can think you understand it until you try it and only then discover you really don’t have a clue.

I just pasted your entire post at the front of my WIP so I will not forget to review my entire manuscript for deep POV opportunities when the time comes.

Thanks again. I don’t think I’ve been more interested in a post topic for a very long time.


P.S. Ruth if you see this I have a story for you. The other night Derek Jeter got up in the ninth inning and I told my wife all about how he was your favorite Yankee player and then he promptly hit into a rally killing double play. What was that all about?

Camy Tang said...

Thanks Rose!

Mary Connealy said...


I've noticed this a LOT in contest entries....

The writer will write:

She felt nervous. Anxiety trembled in her stomach.

See that? The passive then the (to me) STILL passive but somewhat better sentence. It is often, often, often that I see it done twice. Cut the first line, strengthen the second.

Here's a line I liked from Cowboy Christmas I re-read and really 'felt' how Walker felt.

It was only grudgingly that Walker didn’t take back his earlier thanks to God, way back when he’d been grateful for silence. He sure wasn’t giving any more.

“No. I won’t tell you. It’s enough that you know my foolishness over a woman’s wiles cost me my pa’s—” His voice broke. Horror swarmed up his spine like he was getting run over by a herd of locust. He was not about to cry. Even when they’d buried his pa he’d never shed a tear. He’d been too busy plotting revenge. He squared his shoulders and dug deep for that anger now.
He found it easy.

Camy Tang said...

I love Betty Neels! Here's the deal, though--she wrote many years ago in a style that's at least 20 years old, and the publishing industry tends to follow its own trends. These days, the trend is to contract debut authors who write in deep POV.

You'll see that a lot of authors who have been writing for a long time will still write in that older style, and they make a lot of money doing it--if it ain't broke, don't fix it, ya know?

But for new writers trying to break into the publishing industry, especially in these harder economic times when there are fewer slots for new writers at publishing houses, a writer's best bet is to aim for deep POV and a great story.

That's not to say there aren't exceptions, and many of those exceptions make it to the NYT bestseller list.

But in general--and remember, I'm just talking generalities here--new writers are usually recommended to deepen their character POV to create a more emotional story to better their chances of being contracted.

Of course, deep POV doesn't mean squat if you don't already have unique, 3-dimensional characters and a great plot, so keep that in mind, too.


Camy Tang said...

Another thing I thought of: many publishing houses spend lots of money to research their readership demographic, so many times, these publishing trends are not just styles they pull out of thin air. Someone somewhere discovered that deep POV sells more books or attracts more readers, or else the editors wouldn't prefer deep POV in the manuscripts they acquire from new authors.

Again, though, editors will always say that they want to be wowed by a great story, so there are some new novels that aren't in deep POV but are great stories which are picked up.


Mary Connealy said...

Vince asked about the descriptive paragraph. There's still room in books to set a mood with weather and setting. But what I noticed was this:

She looked small and lonely with so much emptiness around her, and certainly she was both, but only because there was no one there to see.”

Mary again. I don't quite know what that sentence is about without reading more. But who's pov is it in. The earlier part of the paragraph seemed to be someone looking down on the girl from a distance, seeing the girl, the beach, the sea the weather. Then we're in the girl's head...I think.

--And certainly she was both--
This line HAS to be either from the girl's POV, because who else would know what she was feeling inside....or from the POV of the watcher who knows the girl's state of mind.

What is sounds like omnicient and if a writer is established and successful, well, she can do a lot of stuff like this and get away with it.

BUT IF YOU'RE UNPUBLISHED--THIS MARKS YOU, TO AN EDITOR, AS A BEGINNER. They'll read it, assume you don't understand POV and most likely reject it out of hand, especially if you open the book with this.

AND they'll be right.

AND this is fair because if you're established, with a fan base, a reader will trust you through things like this because, "Karen Kingsbury always delivers" or "Larry McMurtry doesn't obey POV laws but he tells a fantastic story".

But if you're not Karen or Larry or Jerry or Francine or Nora or whoever...learn the rules and obey them. Then, we're your famous, well, you can break the rules then, but by then you'll know why they're GOOD rules and you won't want to break them. :)

Sarah Forgrave said...

Camy - I think I've read all of your books except one, and you are certainly the queen of deep POV! :-) Funny story...I was reading Only Uni one week and went to work on my own WIP, and apparently I picked up on your sassy deep POV in that book, because my POV character suddenly turned sassy too. Needless to say, I tempered it to fit her personality when I went back to edit. :-)

Connie Marquise said...

Thank you, Camy, for a timely post as I begin a new ms. Can you guess how many of your 'rules' I broke in the first few pages. It's great to have a reminder now and then. Thank you so much.

Camy Tang said...

Sarah--LOL! I hope that didn't mess up your story too much to go back and temper that sass!

Connie--I love starting new manuscripts! Just don't think about any of these deep POV tips when you're writing that first draft--do it in revisions later!


Debra E Marvin said...

Hi Camy,
ahhh. so much to learn. I worked on following these examples so much that when I used the physical/thought/dialogue/action sequence, I got nailed for sticking my dialogue inside the paragraph rather than right at the beginning. Is that an unspoken rule I missed? I was doing a great job avoiding dialogue tags, too! Sigh.

Any opinions on this?

Camy Tang said...

Hi Debra,
Why is dialogue in the middle of a paragraph a bad thing? I do it a lot. LOL

Actually, I only do that if the emotional reaction is intense and I need to show her visceral reaction before her dialogue in order for the emotions to resonate with the reader.

Also, you only have to use all four things if it's a particularly intense emotional reaction. If it's a less intense emotional reaction, you only have to use 1 or 2 (or 3) of the reactions.

I hope that helps!


Vince said...

Hi Mary:

I debated whether to provide this information (I didn’t want to prejudice the evaluation) but that Betty Neels paragraph is the first paragraph in the book. This fact alone would probably require a rewrite - if not an outright rejection today.

As a reader, I enjoyed reading this passage. I was intrigued. I don’t think I was letting Betty Neels get away with anything just because she was famous. I don’t think readers are letting big name authors get away with anything even today.

Readers actually like the writing. It’s really the editors who are allowing these famous writers to get away with things. (And those things are things the editors themselves have established as being verbi non grata.)

I believe that a competent author can pretty much do anything she wants as long as her ‘rewards-per-page’ score is high enough. I also think this consideration is often overlooked. (Yes, of course, unpublished writers should follow editorial preferences.)

However, I feel there are two general ways to create a ‘page-turner’:

1) plan an endless series of interlocking cliffhangers. (I call this the ‘curiosity’ or ‘train wreck’ approach.)

2) make the writing a great deal of ‘fun’ to read. (I call this the non-contingent ‘enjoyment’ approach.)

I know. Most books will do some of both but usually one approach is dominant. I think approach 1 is the most prevalent today. Why else would there be so much emphasis placed on hooks?

I am reading ‘Petticoat Ranch’, right now and I find it to be strongly an approach 2 book.

Why? Because it is simply so much fun to read. I look forward to the reading experience. (Yes, I can put it down just as I can close a box of chocolates without eating them all at one sitting.)

My enjoyment then is not dependent on me wanting to ‘hurry up’ and find out what happens next. I find it satisfying just to read what is there. Janet Evanovich, M.C. Beaton, Alexander McCall-Smith, Lilian Jackson Braun, MaryJanice Davidson, and Diane Mott Davidson are a few authors who do approach 2 very well.

I think approach 2 allows an author to stop and smell the roses. I also think approach 2 will produce a large and loyal fan base. I say this because I think I detect a ‘group think’ towards approach 1 which is shepherded by editors and is a river that is going to run dry in a sea of sameness.


P.S. Thanks, I'm off to do some approach 2 writing right now.

Debby Giusti said...

Great Deep POV post, Camy!!! Good point about not mentioning the specific emotion -- such as anxiety -- but, instead, show how the character's body is reacting. Love it!!!

IMHO, deep POV makes a story more immediate, increases the pace and puts the reader in the middle of the action.

You've done a fantastic job explaining an often difficult concept! Thank you!

Sushi? Egg rolls? Rice cakes? I brought an assortment for those who are ready to head home from work. Safe trip and enjoy!

Camy Tang said...

Mmmm I'll take sushi!

Julie Lessman said...

Sue, your sweet comment certainly makes me feel better, and NO, Ruthy, it will not go to my head. Even if it does, it will keep company with the little voice that says, "you're lousy at deep POV," so there's NO way my head will swell.



Victoria Dixon said...

Thanks so much for this, Camy! It gives me a definitive place to go looking for edits. ;D

Camy Tang said...

Thanks, Victoria! Altho I hope this doesn't make revisions too ornerous.

Ruth and Lacey said...

Oh my gosh, how much fun is this discussion????




Never, ever, ever wonder out loud about Jeter's amazing prowess while referencing a moment of total historical insignificance like one at bat that did not bode well for the Jete-meister.

Pshaw. 'Twas nothing, my man.


Love this back and forth about Deep POV (I confess to having no clue what that actually means despite numerous attempts to teach me the current lingo) vs. omniscient pov (that one I know) and protagonist pov (which is the current trend and sometimes boring as heck).

Mary's right about how an author with a great audience/readership will get to break rules, but they don't just come by that readership casually. People actually like them, so it's an earned right. I'm okay with that.

I wasn't always okay with that, but I've become the young grasshopper at the master's knee.

One day I too will walk the rice paper.

How about Clive Cussler inserting himself into his books? Saving Dirk's sorry butt time and again?

Uh huh.

Try it.

But bring Kleenex to the pity party that follows, LOL!

Vince, I loved that passage and it didn't matter to me if it was introspective thought of the girl or omniscient pov of the narrator, or a combination...

If a story flow catches me, I don't have to critique it. I just enjoy it and that was lovely.



But I like fun, modern, quick-twitch muscle prose too, so thank God there's room for both!

Gotta go.

Game just started.

I'm hoping the Yankees are INDEED Pedro Martinez's "Daddy".


Tina M. Russo said...

Mary you are so right on. One of my favorite all time writers is Dixie Browning. She could tell a story and they were character driven. She spoke at RWA once and joked about how her books have no plots. Her editors know it, she knows it. LOL.

But could she ever write a book.

Writers like this are the exception not the rule.

As Mary said, you learn the rules before you break them.

Today's market is a different market. This is an instant gratification world, and readers want instant everything, and that includes getting into your character's head. NOW.

If an editor can tell if she has a SOLD on her hands in the first few pages then I am guessing some of our favorite mass market authors might indeed have a harder time selling today.

Mary Connealy said...

I just read a book by a mega-bestselling author and I can't remember who now, I probably wouldn't say if I could, but the first two CHAPTERS were all internel thought and backstory. The whole time I was reading it I was thinking, "Shame on you, you know better than this. You're getting lazy."

But I read on because this author is a favorite and I trust her to come through for me with a great story. And she did. And that's alllllllll fine for her.

But a new author would NEVER get that book published.

Here's an interesting thought. We know all these rules and we really MUST obey them...the Seekers as well as very, very many of our readers are new to this.

How interesting is it going to be ten years from now when ALL OF US, yeah, why not make that statement :) are mega published authors and we're writing our books with all these rules, explode your opening. Deep POV, no backstory dumps, no omnicient POV....and the publishign industry will morph into an all omnicient backstory style and people will use us all as a bad example.

Well TINA RUSSO never uses omnicient POV and she's on the NYT bestseller list all the time.

Yes, but Tina earned the right to break those rules.

snickering Everything old is new again....oh, that's NOT a reference to Tina's age. :)

Patty Wysong said...

Don’t describe things/people/settings—instead, experience them through your viewpoint character.

I was just trying to explain this to my son today! Ha! I'm sending him the link so YOU can teach him about it! =]

It's so fun to read things as seen through the character's eyes like that! Thanks for the super deep pov refresher, Camy! =] I loved it!

Are there any of Audra's pumpkin muffins left or did I miss them?

Tina M. Russo said...

Thanks, Mare. Snicker back at cha.

Victoria Dixon said...

Thanks for the concern, Camy, but nah. No revision too onerous, no edit too tedious. I just hope there's payoff someday, ya know? ;D

Debra E Marvin said...

yes, it helped. I feel better. A little compassion helps the bruises heal too.

Vince, I love Alexander McCall Smith and Diane Mott Davidson's novels. Excellent on audio. Humorous and character-rich--very strong voices.

Janet Dean said...

Wonderful tips on Deep Point of View, Camy! I'm printing them off. Sorry I'm late. What happened to yesterday? :-)


Carla Gade said...

Thanks, Camy, for your very helpful insights!

Carrie Turansky said...

This was excellent advice with good examples! Thanks, Camy!!


Camy Tang said...

Patty--you're most welcome!

Victoria--definitely hoping for payoff for you, too!

Janet--thanks for chiming in!

Carla and Carrie--you're welcome, guys!


Nike Chillemi said...

Great article. I know it was a while ago you wrote it, but someone just directed me to it.