How to write DEEP POV

Start from the beginning


Only describe something the protagonist perceives themselves. If there's a cat at the other end of the alley but the protagonist has no knowledge of it, then the narration can't mention the cat. Only when the protagonist perceives something (eg. they see the cat, they touch a hot stove), that's when they'll have some kind of emotional reaction, and that's what deep pov focuses on. That's why it's so immersive and interesting to read. When we read a laundry list of events and actions happening, we tend to get bored. What's interesting about a story is how the characters REACT to those events and actions. Focus on that, not the action itself.

Another thing about description is you can only use descriptors your protagonist would be aware of. You can't say something was "cold as ice" if your protagonist lives in a desert and has never felt ice before. You can't say something was "light as a feather" if your protagonist has never held a feather before.


You want the words you use to create a "center" at your protagonist. Eg. if you say "the night before", you point away from the character. If you say "last night", the protagonist is the center. It's their thought. The narrator shouldn't be aware they're telling a story--that's third person, not deep pov. Don't remind your readers that it's an author, someone who isn't the protagonist, telling the story. It should be the protagonist unknowingly telling the story. We're just following along for the ride.

Here are some examples of pointing words that should be avoided:
> "this" and "that". Especially "this". It points outside of the character because in our own thought processes, we rarely refer to things as "this". That's more like recounting an old event. In deep pov, you want to be there DURING the event.
> "Here" and "There". Especially "Here". Again, the concept of "here" wouldn't exist in the present. Saying "Here was where it happened" points outward from your character and reminds us that there's another person looking down on the events rather than the protagonist experiencing it for themselves.
> Words like "now", "soon", "today", "tomorrow", etc point away from the protagonist and hint at some external narrator. They tell an event that had happened or will happened, and that's not in the scope of the protagonist, who's experiencing these events in the present and wouldn't have a notion of "now" because everything happening to them is "now".


Action is what a character does. "He jumped." "She spun and smacked him in the head." When a character does something to your protagonist, the wording is crucial to keep in deep pov. Say the protagonist is a guy, and he's talking to a girl. "She glared at him." points away from the protagonist because it makes the girl the subject of the sentence. Remember the center, the focus, should be on the protagonist.

For that previous example, to give the guy the focus, you place him in the subject position of the sentence: "His blood chilled when she glared." "His blood" is the subject in this case, and it points toward the protagonist instead of the girl.

Don't put the protagonist in a subordinate clause:
DON'T: "As he shouted, the light turned on." This emphasizes the light turning on rather than emphasizeing the protagonist.
DO: "He shouted as the light turned on." Now the subject of the sentence is "He", and that's where the emphasis is.

Back to the point on judgement, you can use something called "empty subject constructions" when judging something.
DON'T: "She thought it was stupid for him to think he could ride his motorcycle in this weather." (this is filtering again)
DO: "It was stupid to ride a motorcycle in this weather."

Use bare verb/preposition phrases. I know it's improper to end a sentence on a preposition, but consider this (when the guy is the protagonist and the girl is a secondary character):
"She walked up to him." vs. "She walked up." The former puts the protagonist in a non-subject position, the object of the action, if you will. The latter eliminates the protagonist from the picture, and it becomes more of something a person would actually internalize. Try narrating the events of your day. You'd probably think, "Barry drove over and brought cookies." rather than "Barry drove over to my house and gave me cookies."


Use them! They're words like: can, could, might, shall, should, will, etc. It creates a scene of internal judgement from the protagonist. They show how the protagonist evaluates the situation, what the possiblity of something is in their opinion. Their subjective words.
DON'T: He kicked her arm, but she was quick to recover.
DO: He might have kicked her arm with that tough leather boot of his, but he wasn't strong enough to keep her out of commission for long.

Adverbs can be used to your advantage as well (just don't go overboard): apparently, of course, clearly, surely, likely, etc.
They also show the protagonist's opinion of the situation and immerses us deeper into their minds. A third person narrator wouldn't judge situations as "clearly, he'd broken his arm". A third person narrator would just say "he'd broken his arm". They're not the protagonist, and they're not judging the situation as the protagonist is.


A third person narrator has a separate voice from the protagonist's. A deep pov narrator's voice IS the protagonist's. If your protagonist swears a lot, there should be swears in the narrator. If they have a certain phrase they say like "No way would they..." or "Damn it all if he couldn't...", those would be in the narration.

Rather than the narrator being a middleman between the reader and protagonist as would be the case in third person, deep pov narrators ARE the protagonist. The reader gets to see the protagonist's thoughts and actions and opinions directly, and that usually gives the reader a more immersive, deeper, and fun reading experience.

Gahhhhh. The more I learn about writing, the harder it gets.*flips table*

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