Monday, June 11, 2012

Deep POV: Lesson Two by Karen Witemeyer

Welcome to the second post in Karen Witemeyer's Deep POV series. Hasn't this been helpful? Read on!

How to Capture your POV Characters' Voices

Here are a few basic guidelines for writing in deep POV.

·         Keep POV pure – one per scene.

Head-hopping kills deep POV. The whole point of writing in deep POV is for your readers to experience the story vicariously through your POV character. If you jump into another character's head you break that bond. Yes, there are best-selling authors who head-hop, but I would argue that they aren't writing with deep POV.

·         Get to know your character so intimately that you can easily take on their thoughts and emotions.

When you are first learning how to do this you might find it helpful to interview your characters or journal as if you were the character. You might write a scene in first person then change the pronouns to make it third person. Delve your own thought and emotions for inspiration.

·         Reduce tags and limit use of character's name.

There are certainly times where a character's name needs to be used for clarification in a scene or when the writing flow needs something different than the repetitive use of a pronoun. However, since people don't naturally think of themselves in the third person, limit the use of names to help deepen the POV. 

·         Eliminate head words.

He thought. She wondered. He noticed. She knew. Watch out for variations on these head words and kill as many as you can. They distance your reader from your character by telling instead of showing. There are times when these words are appropriate and can be used to great effect, but for the most part, get rid of them and express the thought directly.

She gazed at the door and wondered if John would show up like he'd promised or leave her stranded again.


Her gaze swung to the door. Where was he? John had promised not to leave her stranded this time. Why couldn't the boy act responsibly for once in his life?

After you get the basics down, you can move into the more advanced stages of deepening your character's POV.

Infuse the narrative with your POV character's personality and speaking style.

·         Use the same style in your narrative as you use in your POV character's dialog.

If your hero tends to talk in clipped sentences, sprinkle a few sentence fragments into the narrative. Use language in your descriptions that he would use. Throw in one of his pet phrases once in a while.

·         Add humor, sarcasm, prejudices, attitudes, misconceptions, etc.

Use the character's personality to flavor the narrative. This is a great way to add humor or demonstrate misconceptions. Perhaps your heroine would think something catty about the woman who fired her even though she'd never utter the words aloud. Have fun with this. Show us her thoughts. Make her human and relatable.

·         Each POV character's voice must be distinct.

We've all heard that a reader should be able to identity which character is speaking simply by the way the dialog is crafted. It is the same principle for narrative voice. Scenes written in the heroine's POV should feel different than those written in the hero's POV.

Next week: Deepen POV by deepening the portrayal of emotion.


Short-Straw Bride released June 1, 2012.

No one steps on Archer land. Not if they value their life. But when Meredith Hayes overhears a lethal plot to burn the Archer brothers off their ranch, a twelve-year-old debt compels her to take the risk.

Fourteen years of constant vigilance hardens a man. Yet when Travis Archer confronts a female trespasser with the same vivid blue eyes as the courageous young girl he once aided, he can't bring himself to send her away. And when an act of sacrifice leaves her injured and her reputation in shreds, gratitude and guilt send him riding to her rescue once again.

Four brothers. Four straws. One bride. Despite the fact that Travis is no longer the gallant youth Meredith once dreamed about, she determines to stand by his side against the enemy that threatens them both. But will love ever be hers? Or will Travis always see her merely as a short-straw bride?


Two-time RITA® Finalist and winner of the coveted HOLT Medallion, CBA bestselling author, Karen Witemeyer, writes historical romance fiction for Bethany House, believing that the world needs more happily-ever-afters. She is an avid cross-stitcher, shower singer, and bakes a mean apple cobbler. Karen makes her home in Abilene, TX with her husband and three children. Learn more about Karen and her books at: