Monday, March 9, 2015

Writing Tips #3- Nuggets of Wisdom on Deep Point of View

When I asked my writer friends for writing tips, I had no idea what they would send. I received lots of general advice, but also a few tidbits that I categorized. Today's post compiles ones on deep point of view.

I was first introduced to this concept during Lorin Oberweger's  Free Expressions seminar. Lorin generously gave me permission to post this excellent handout, and in this blog I share some of my experiences at that workshop. Now I consciously look for how authors portray their protagonists' point of view. 

To me, deep point of view is about filtering my character's world through her unique lens. Getting inside her skin and psyche. Feeling her anguish, fears, conflicts, joys, and thrills. Being as "up close and personal" as possible. 

Even if that character happens to be a mouse.
Image found on
Here are some tips on how to accomplish this:

"Write from inside your character's head. You have to see what he sees and feel what he feels. If you want to fully pull a reader into your setting and story, this is vital. I write fiction, but I think this also applies to non-fiction, at least to some degree." Kathy Cannon Wiechman, author of Like a River.

"As the POV deepens, it becomes easier for the reader to completely immerse themselves in the story, in the character, and to forget that it is actually fiction. 

"But how to achieve that? One good starting point is by taking away the “telling” part of thinking and saying, of seeing and watching, and simply “showing" us that instead.

"Here are a few examples using passages from my middle-grade novel What Flowers Remember.
  • When our tears ended, Mama unwrapped me and pushed herself up from the couch. “How about I get us some toast with honey.” 
  • Mae reached back down into the bag. “That’s why we have gliiiitterrrr!” She sang the last word, stretching it out and draping it all over the room. 
  • Mrs. Williams folded up a nearby magazine and swatted him on the arm. “Sometimes it’s as if you were raised in a barn.” 
"Not a single “said” or “thought” in any of those…and while you might easily see where they could be added, why? Would it make the passage better? I’d argue no. 

"I was mindful of trying to eliminate speech tags where I felt it worked, replacing them with body language or movement or some other action. All of which works to help readers not just understand what is happening, but to better visualize it." Shannon 
Wiersbitzky, author of The Summer of Hammers and Angels.

"Always consider the character’s needs, not the author's. What does the character see, feel, hear, think and how does she react. And to paraphrase both Donald Maass and Bruce Coville—although not sure they expected it to come together in quite this way—don’t take the obvious emotion first. Give readers the unexpected emotion--or the unexpected mix of emotional reactions--from the character, but don’t forget to let the reader know why the character is having that reaction. That doesn’t require a flashback, or even an explanation right then, but do make sure you give the reader what they need to know when they need to know it. Martina Boone, author of Compulsion.

"When writing point of view, imagine your main character is looking through a camera lens. The objective viewpoint would be seeing the world around him with a wide-angle or panoramic lens. The subjective viewpoint would be looking at things with a macro-lens, and taking lots of selfies." Christine Kohler, author of No Surrender Soldier, explains more about objective and subjective viewpoints in this article.
Next week I'll be reviewing and giving away an ARC of Kathy Wiechman's debut novel, Like a River. After that will be two more posts in this "Writing Tips" series. The next is on story making and the last one is on revision. If you want to chime in on either topic, leave me a comment or send me an email at If I use your nugget, I'll add your name for  a drawing to receive this book:


Christine Kohler said...

Thank you for including my quote in the article, Carol! Here's the direct hot link to the craft article "Stargazing or Navel-gazing?" about using objective versus subjective viewpoint to acheive the distance or closeness you desire for your character and story:

Carol Baldwin said...

Thanks, Christine!

Kathy Cannon Wiechman said...

Thanks for including my tidbit. Btw, Wiechman is "i before e."Thanks

Carol Baldwin said...

Thanks, Kathy, My bad on spelling your name wrong!

Linda A. said...

More great tips. Thanks so much, Carol and contributors!

Carol Baldwin said...

You are welcome, LInda. Glad you're enjoying the series.

Rosi said...

I always learn something here. Lots of good tips today. Thanks for the post.

Carol Baldwin said...

You're welcome, Rosi! Glad you're liking it.

Linda Phillips said...

Thanks for the reminder that we can't ever overdo the showing rather than the telling!

Sandra Warren said...

We can never get too many tips on POV!

Thanks for this post and the examples. Examples always drive the tips home.

Carol Baldwin said...

Agreed, Sandra!

Anonymous said...

Great advice! I especially like the comparison to the different types of cameras to explain the different POVs. Thanks for posting.

Carol Baldwin said...

Thanks, Laura. It's nice to have a global village of writers helping us learn the craft!

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