Deep POV is the third-person subjective taken a step beyond the normal third-person subjective. Deep POV shows your story through the eyes of one or more characters—one at a time please, avoid any head-hopping. Deep POV goes into the head and heart of a character, taking your readers beyond the action on the page. Thus allowing you the writer to help your readers understand your character’s throughs, his or her experiences, history, and feelings.
What first-person POV executes with the I narration, Deep POV accomplishes with third-person he or she narration.
Using Deep POV puts your readers inside your viewpoint character. They feel story events as your hero or heroine does. What your protagonist or antagonist sees, the reader sees. What they feel or think, the reader knows. The reader understands automatically what is being reported are the thoughts, feelings, and intentions of your viewpoint character.
Deep POV allows writers to do away with what he thought, he felt, he wondered, he saw, all those phrases that intrude into the fiction, that unnecessarily encumbers the story.
Once upon a time, such phrases were considered necessary, a way to let your readers know we were in the character’s head or seeing through his or her eyes. With Deep POV, readers are in the character’s head –almost– all the time, and no other intrusions are necessary.
A few examples of simple sentences to show the contrast—
He was lost, Michael thought. Lost and certain someone followed him into the woods.
I’m lost, Michael thought. Lost and certain someone followed him into the woods.
Third-person Deep POV—
He was lost. Lost and certain someone followed him into the woods.
I’m lost. Lost and certain someone followed him into the woods.
Sherry trailed her quarry down Broadway, careful to look busy with store windows shopping on the opposite side of the street. She giggled when she watched him slip into the Big and Tall Shop and saw him hide behind a mannequin.
Third-person Deep POV
Sherry trailed her quarry—better known as her ex-husband—down Broadway, careful to look busy windows shopping on the opposite side of the street. She had to laugh when he slipped into the Big and Tall Shop and hide behind a mannequin.
Allen shook his head. It was moronic, he said to himself, the way Zen fawned over his wife’s parents.
Zen threw open his mouth, faking a long laugh.
A moron, Allen thought again, turning away.
Third-person Deep POV
Allen shook his head. It was moronic the way Zen fawned over his wife’s parents.
The loser threw open his mouth, faking a long laugh.
Allen turned away.
A first-person narrator never needs to identify his or her own feelings and thoughts as being their own. So, the third-person viewpoint character doesn’t have to tell his readers over and over what he or she is thinking or hoping or seeing or feeling. Readers understand the thoughts and hopes and visions and feelings belong to the viewpoint character.
The writer who uses Deep POV for his viewpoint character doesn’t have to use markers to tell readers what a character feels—
Melissa reluctantly stuck her hand into the pouch. She thought there was no way she could back out of the dare gracefully. She wiggled her fingers around. She felt slime ooze between them.
Melissa reluctantly stuck her hand into the pouch. There was no way she could back gracefully out of the dare. She wiggled her fingers around, wincing when slime oozed between them.
Using Deep POV rather than the traditional third-person subjective can cut your word count while keeping the intensity high. It can also keep readers deep in the fiction of the moment rather than reminding them that they are reading a story.
Markers used to remind readers a character is reporting that he’s doing something—felt, saw, watched, thought and so on—become a barrier between readers and the events and emotions of the story. They keep readers one step removed from story events and a character’s feelings.
Removing those reminders pulls your readers deeper into story’s events and deeper into the character’s mind and heart. When you remove the visual physical barrier, the psychological barrier is also separated. Then the reader dives even deeper into the fictional world.
Of course, being in a character’s thoughts and emotions for the length of a story can make readers antsy or induce a sense claustrophobia. It’s quite okay to draw back at times, to step away from that Deep POV.
When Deep POV is too much
At the opening of a new chapter, help the reader get a broad view of the scene. Allow scenes to gain perspective and provide relief from Deep POV. Go from the big-picture shot, shifting focus until your viewpoint character is again in the frame, then you can let him or her resume the storytelling.
Switching viewpoint characters lets your readers get the view from inside a different head. This gives them a break from the intensity of a single character’s point of view.
Remember, however, to switch viewpoint characters only with scene changes. And be choosy about the heads and hearts you dump your readers into. Not every character deserves to tell your story. Not every character is the right character to tell your story.