Monday, April 1, 2019

Taking Deep Point of View Even Deeper by Annette M. Irby

Woman writing in notebook at a park*
We’ve talked before on Seriously Write about deep POV (point of view). I still highly recommend Jill Elizabeth Nelson’s book Rivet Your Reader with Deep Point of View.

To impact readers, we must help them engage with the main characters (MCs), especially those who lend us their point of view during the novel. This way, readers can:

1) find ways they relate, so they won’t feel left out of the novel.
2) possibly (and hopefully) be emotionally impacted by the story.
3) live vicariously through your POVC’s (point-of-view character’s) adventure.

Let’s dig a little deeper into an aspect that will let us into your POVC’s experience. In my work as an editor, I’ve noticed that there can sometimes be a lack of what I call the realization-then-reaction cycle. This is somewhat different from scene building (Dwight Swain’s motivation-reaction units). It’s introspective, meaning the character’s thoughts are central.

To delve deeper into deep POV, have characters do two things:

1) realize/recognize what they perceive is happening and put it on the page

2) and then react to that realization, again, on the page.

Now, of course, you can overdo it, so be intentional. But this cycle is what we do in real life. By employing the realization-then-reaction cycle, you’re:

1) Creating tension: What if the MC is offended by what they perceive just happened? What if they feel justified in their unforgiveness, etc.? So many possibilities.

2) Leveraging deep POV: We’re in the MC’s head, let’s experience what he’s thinking and feeling. We aren’t watching a movie; we’re reading a novel. It’s a deeper POV experience and one readers expect when they pick up your book.

3) Providing a logical flow (study MRUs for more on this). If your MC does not at least think about what’s happening, readers wonder if the MC is dense. Doesn’t he see what just happened? And after the MC acknowledges what just happened, readers want to see how it impacts them.

4) Answering (and raising) readers’ questions. Readers wonder if they “read that right,” so giving us the MC’s perception answers the questions. You can also raise more questions by having the MC be confused or point out something else for readers to wonder about.

5) Creating conflict: Your POVC cannot necessarily perceive correctly both the actions and motivations of other characters. This oh-so-relatable challenge can lead to great conflict between characters, including misunderstandings, distrust, etc.

Readers are trusting the POVC to paint her world, both the outer story world and her inner world (thoughts, feelings, etc.) for us. If we aren’t given their understanding (perception) of outward events, we’ll feel kept at a distance. If we aren’t then given their reaction to those realizations (how what has happened makes her feel), your character won’t feel believable. She will feel two-dimensional rather than layered.

Perhaps writers skip this logical inward flow because they aren't fully in their character's head, or the emotions are too intimidating. I’m unsure why they leave out realizations and reactions, but I can tell you when, as a reader, I perceive life along with the MC and then I feel her reaction, I relate! I’m sure this is true for you too.

In my Whidbey Island novel that released March 1, I include a situation where the heroine carries anger for a decision the hero made years ago—a decision that impacted her in a painful way. During their conversation about this touchy subject, I have the heroine perceiving what the hero might be thinking by watching his body language. This is what we do in real life. She may even read into his words and project what she thinks he’s feeling onto him. Again, human behavior. One of my early readers said she could so relate with the heroine in that scene. She felt the character’s indignation. (Three cheers when that happens, right?!) Anytime we can help readers feel what our characters feel, we’ve accomplished a grand part of our goal—to give readers an emotional experience. That’s what makes them search out your books again and again. That’s what builds your readerly tribe.

Then, when you’re in the other POVC’s head, you can paint the scene from their perspective as they recall how it happened. In my Whidbey novel,we find the hero deeply regrets his past decision and would change it if he could. He’s determined to find a way to make up for his selfishness in the present, if she’ll let him. See, he’s likable! That’s how you leverage deep POV. That’s how you keep your reader both hooked and cheering for both of your MCs (in a romance, specifically), though they are seemingly on opposing sides, at least in the beginning.

Your turn: What tips do you have for delving more deeply into deep POV? What works for you as a reader? What works for you as a writer? I’d love to see your ideas.

Write on, friends!

Taking Deep Point of View Even Deeper @AnnetteMIrby #writingtips #SeriouslyWrite

FL on Whidbey Island, Washington
Could what drove them apart be what draws them back together? Liberty Winfield lives with loss every day. She’d rather leave her history behind her, but when faced with moving back to her hometown, the past becomes unavoidable. She takes a job at the florist shop owned by her ex-boyfriend’s family from a decade ago. Now he’s unavoidable.

Clay Garrison knows the pain of ruing his mistakes. Most of his regrets center around Liberty. If he could undo his poor choices, he would. Liberty is back. He has one more chance to make things right. She doesn’t believe anyone could love her unconditionally, so he sets out to prove her wrong. He must also try to right the biggest wrong of their past, knowing that in doing so, he could lose her forever. Will addressing the past together help them find love?


Annette M. Irby has been writing since her teen years when she sat pounding out stories on a vintage typewriter just for fun. Since then, she’s joined Christian writing groups and launched blogs so she could share the joy of writing. Her book, Finding Love on Bainbridge Island, Washington, finaled in the Selah Contest in 2019. Flowers and seascapes inspire her. In her off hours, she enjoys gardening, photography, and music. She lives with her husband and family in the Pacific Northwest. Learn more here on her Seriously Write page.

Links to connect with Annette:
Twitter: @AnnetteMIrby
Facebook Reader Friends Group:
BookBub: or @AnnetteMIrby
Amazon Author Page:
Book Review Blog:

* woman writing photo credit: Pixabay
** author photo credit: Sarah Irby