Deep P.O.V. Part One—What IS It? How Do We DO It?

Image via Flickr Creative Commons, courtesy of FromSandToGlass

Image via Flickr Creative Commons, courtesy of FromSandToGlass

Writing is like anything else. The trends and fashions change along with the audience. For instance, Moby Dick spends an excruciatingly long time talking about whales, namely because the audience of the time probably had never seen one and never would. If we did this today? Sure, feel free to walk around in a literary gold-plated cod piece, but er…

Yes, awkward.

Epics were also very popular. Follow a character from the womb until death. FANTASTIC STUFF! Why? Because no one had HBO, Pinterest or Angry Birds. Books were a rare indulgence usually reserved for a handful of literate folks with the money or connections to get their hands on…a book.

Also, since writers were paid by the word, their works were padded more than a freshman term paper. Their motto? No modifier left behind. These days? We have to write leaner, meaner, faster and cleaner.

Recently, we talked about POV and which one might be the best for your story. I can’t choose for any of you, but before we talk about deep POV, I want to mention that POV is also affected by audience and I believe is a direct reflection of how connected we are as a society.

You guys may or may not know that POV has changed along with communication and connectedness. Waaaaay back in the day, omniscient with a god-like narrator was all the rage. But people didn’t travel at all. Most humans lived and died in the place they were born and in isolation from other communities.

With the early epics, we often had a narrator who was separate from the events.

Dear Reader, come with me for a tale of AWESOME…

Later, after the Dark Ages, people got out more, traveled more, etc. We see the narrator merging into just general god-like presence. Then, after the printing press was invented, more and more people were reading and a lot of monks were out of a job and started the first microbreweries.

Don’t argue. It’s history 😛 .

With pamphlets and papers, people became more engaged and journalism eventually gives birth to this new-fangled invention…first-person. Third person and third-person shifting only became popular after audiences grew accustomed to radio programs (and later television) and could mentally process the idea of a cut-to scene.

As people became networked closer and closer, we see the psychic distance closing. Now that we are a culture of reality TV and social media? Omniscient is a tough sell. I am not telling any of you what POV to choose, but I will say that modern readers will shy away from these older forms of POV because they “feel cold.” Modern readers LOVE being as close as possible, ergo my little side-trip through history.

And this is where we get *drum roll* deep POV.

You hear this word flung around the writing world. Oooh, deep POV. That is deep POV. Deep, Man.

Um, what is deep POV?

And, if you are like me, you go along and are too embarrassed to ask what the heck deep POV is? Everyone wants it. Readers love it. Uh, but what IS it? How do I do it? Can I order some on-line?

Deep POV is simply a technique that strips the author voice completely out of the prose. There is no author intrusion so we are left only with the characters. The reader is nice and snuggly in the “head” of the character.

Okay, clear as mud. Right? Right.

As an editor, I see the intrusion much more than authors. It is actually shocking how much you guys interrupt. In fact, you are like my mother chaperoning my first date who would swear she was quiet as a mouse.


I actually like deep POV because I love tight pose. I loathe unnecessary words. Deep POV not only leans up the writing, it digs deeper into the mental state of the character. We probably aren’t going to stay completely in deep POV, but it’s a nice place to call “home.”

How do we do it? Today, for the sake of brevity, we are just going to talk about simple stylistic changes, not the actual writing. We will do that next time 😉 .

First, Ditch the Tags

Just using the word “said” tells the reader we (the author) are there.

Kristen’s Made-Up Example (don’t judge me, just roll with it)

“No, I always love it when you drop by,” she said. Fifi felt her hands start to shake. She glanced over Tom’s shoulder and saw that the street was deserted. She knew all of her neighbors had already gone out of town for Christmas and no one would hear her scream. She thought, He is going to kill me.

Okay, so we get that Fifi is in a bad spot. But just that little word said tells us the author is present. So in the next layer we are going to remove the said.

While We Are Here? Thought and Sense Words—Ditch Those, Too

If we really pause and think about it, thought and sense words are frequently redundant. If we are IN the character’s head? We KNOW she is thinking. Who else would be thinking?

We aren’t dumb. Yes, it is my personal opinion, but I feel sensing and thinking words often qualify as holding the reader’s brain. We don’t need to. Readers are pretty smart.

Let’s look at my made-up example.

“No, I always love it when you drop by.” Fifi felt her hands start to shake. She glanced over Tom’s shoulder and saw that the street was deserted. She knew all of her neighbors had already gone out of town for Christmas and no one would hear her scream. She thought, He is going to kill me.

So we ditched the said and that tightened it up. Did you notice how losing the tag tightened the psychic distance? Now let’s remove these stubborn stains  unnecessary sensing and thinking words.

***Also, try to ditch any “starting to”.  Do or do not, there is no try starting to.

“No, I always love it when you drop by.” Fifi’s hands shook. She glanced over Tom’s shoulder. The street was deserted. All of her neighbors had already gone out of town for Christmas and no one would hear her scream. He is going to kill me.

Do you see how just getting rid of those excess words upped the tension of this piece? We (the reader) go from being a distant observer to being in the potentially deadly situation. We don’t need to tell the reader Fifi is thinking or feeling or about to do something. The reader gets that and us putting in glowing directional arrows is a distraction.

Screen Shot 2015-06-09 at 5.19.06 PM

Fifi felt Tom’s hands clamp around her throat.

Just get to it already!

Tom’s hands clamped around her throat.

So I hope this helps clear up some of your “deep POV” questions. Remember that we live in a culture that is spoiled with intimacy and we can give them what they love. Next time, we will discuss characterization and how to write in deep POV beyond the stylistic choices.

Before we go, y’all asked for it so here goes. I have two classes coming up. The class on log-lines Your Story in a Sentence—Crafting Your Log-Line is $35 and as a BONUS, the first ten sign-ups get to be victims. I will pull apart and torture your log-line until it is agent-ready for FREE. Beyond the first ten folks? We will work out something super affordable as a bonus for being in the class so don’t fret. AND, it is two hours and on a Saturday (June 27th) and recorded so no excuses 😛 .

I am also running Hooking the Reader–Your First Five Pages.  Class is on June 30th so let’s make Tuesdays interesting. General Admission is $40 and Gold Level is $55 but with Gold Level, you get the class, the recording and I look at your first five and give detailed edit.

Our first five pages are essential for trying to attract an agent or even selling BOOKS. Readers give us a page…maybe five. Can we hook them enough to part with cold hard CASH? Also, I can generally tell all bad habits in 5 pages so probably can save you a ton in content edit.

I LOVE hearing from you!

To prove it and show my love, for the month of JUNE, everyone who leaves a comment I will put your name in a hat. If you comment and link back to my blog on your blog, you get your name in the hat twice. What do you win? The unvarnished truth from yours truly. I will pick a winner once a month and it will be a critique of the first 20 pages of your novel, or your query letter, or your synopsis (5 pages or less).

Remember, for MORE chances to win and better ODDS, also comment over at Dojo Diva. I am blogging for my home dojo and it will help the blog gain traction.

Winner for May is Ugirid Haprasad and the Dojo Diva winner is Amy Kennedy. Please send 20 pages (5000 words) in a WORD document to kristen at wana Congratulations!

For those who need help building a platform and keeping it SIMPLE, pick up a copy of my latest social media/branding book Rise of the Machines—Human Authors in a Digital World on AMAZON, iBooks, or Nook


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  1. I’ve been writing like this for years. I had no idea it had a label. 🙂

    1. deep POV can have an entirely different meaning depending on where on the Internet you are

  2. Yay I am first! I need it all Kristen, as you know! Heading off to SIWC this fall, I can’t wait to sit in on all the sessions. I have a pitch scheduled on the Thursday, so I will be knocking on your door for some assistance with the first 5 pages and maybe even some pitch help! Are you running any sessions on preparing your pitch?

    1. That is the log-line class. So sign up so you can get your pitch free.

  3. I’ve tried writing like this and have had my hands slapped for trying. No more I say! Jamie

  4. Reblogged this on Theo Fenraven and commented:
    Reblogging because this is what I try to edit to. If you let me. 😉 I love leaner and meaner, as anyone who reads my books knows.

  5. Your examples are the most useful I’ve seen for explaining deep POV. Thanks!

  6. Reblogged this on Lori Beasley Bradley my writing.

  7. Awesome post! That makes Deep POV make a lot more sense for me!

  8. And I am going to have to comb through my MS for those nasty tags.

  9. My favorite author, Josh Lanyon, is a genius at deep POV (and First Person). Deep is my favorite read and is how I prefer to write although I admit to slipping up with the “said”, “felt” and “thought” stuff.

    My question is this: Why do so many editors and literary types loathe First Person when it’s the “deepest” POV? I constantly read articles/blog posts where they act as if FP POV is an automatic slush pile vote. I don’t get it.

    Thanks for the POV series, Kristin. I look forward to it! 🙂

    • Cathy Parker on June 9, 2015 at 5:51 pm
    • Reply

    ‘Then, after the printing press was invented, more and more people were reading and a lot of monks were out of a job and started the first microbreweries.’ Hah! Love it. Never thought of the historical events in that light.

    I like your deep POV tips very much. I would warn, though, that every once in a while I will lose the thread completely as to which character in a dialogue is talking. This is especially true where the same character goes on to a new paragraph, usually one or two sentences, in the middle of a long dialogue. Sometimes your editors will omit that first quote mark in para 2 and sometimes they won’t. So then I’ll come to a line of dialogue expecting it to be character 2 but with a jolt I realize that it has to be character 1. So then back I must go to see who said what. So, a warning. Every once in a while a marker is nice.

    1. Really? Editors loathe FP? I always thought it was the opposite, though I did hear that FP is he easiest to do to keep your POV from straying.

      1. It depends on the editor. Everyone has a preference.

  10. I love this post, and have tried hard to adopt these principles.

  11. Reblogged this on Mystery and Romance and commented:
    This is a great explanation of Deep POV!

  12. Reblogged this on Macjoyful's Minimal Musings and commented:
    Here’s an in depth examination of point of view by Kristen Lamb. All you writers out there definitely should check out her blog.

  13. Wrestling with POV, OCD and ADHD, Trishia hesitates to sign up … . But the dream of creating an illustrated book won’t go away.

  14. Super helpful! Thanks.

  15. Heading out to toss those “saids” right now.

  16. Deep first-person POV is the best ‘junk filter’ around. Characters don’t dwell on the everyday aspects of the world they’re used to, so this filters out the excess description that only critique groups love 😈 , and which modern readers have no time for (as Kristen *repeatedly* points out).
    Compact, concise dialogue also leaves room for readers to *imagine* things, and put their own personal stamp of interpretation on your work.

  17. I have been writing and teaching deep POV for a while now. I feel like I love it. Oops. LOL Teasing, but that a good example of leaving my own POV. It has become a part of my newest publisher’s style guide, but it is difficult to convert some writers who continue to litter with unnecessary tags and sense words. I appreciate your writing about this because so many people follow you and trust your skills. Thanks again. We met in Branson a few years ago and had a wonderful time at lunch.

  18. Reblogged this on Velda Brotherton and commented:
    If you don’t listen to me, pay attention to Kristen Lamb.

  19. Reblogged this on ugiridharaprasad.

  20. Brilliant post – I am now wandering above the sea of fog and can’t wait to get editing. Thank you so much Kirsten.

  21. For some reason I’m not so keen on deep POV (as a reader) – makes me feel trapped? I dunno.

  22. Great post for me– just learning POV

    • katrinavanwagenen on June 10, 2015 at 12:50 am
    • Reply

    I literally just put my hand up to my ear and made a loud explosion sound. ..mind=BLOWN I’ve never seen deep pov described so well, and I’ve read a ton of articles on the subject. BRILLIANT

    1. Wonderful! Glad I could help.

  23. Fantastic and a good clear example.

  24. Reblogged this on Hilary Moon – writer.

  25. Reblogged this on xdayschocolate.

  26. Reblogged this on Sunflowers for Moira and commented:
    Learning a LOT from this blog.

  27. You know, I usually read your blog for reminders and pure entertainment because I love your style. Most of the time, I’ve already incorporated your suggestions into my own writing. But this is a new one, and I totally agree with it! Thank you! I’m off to go revamp my WIP since I can’t concentrate on continuing with the first draft till we find out if my son’s foot is really broken or not… 😉

  28. I signed up for 5 page Gold on June 30.

    Did I get an “a”

    Oh, it’s only June 10 th


  29. Reblogged this on Sorchia's Universe and commented:
    Words to write by! Writing’s a serious business–even though some of us do it wearing pjs and sipping wine. Read on for best practices!

  30. Your blog was interesting, when writing my manuscript my avoidance of these words are difficult, but I’ve noticed that when I read it aloud, those words interrupt flow and my scene sounds awkward. Leaving adverbs and adjectives out does heighten the moment and draws you in, giving you the feeling your apart of the scenario. Thanks Kristen for confirming this.

  31. I had not heard the label Deep POV but it’s what I do – for the most part.

  32. This was a great reminder. My entire series is written in 1st person, and sometimes I have to take a step back and remove the excess. Will be bookmarking your blogs and I’m looking forward to more articles like this one.

  33. Crystal clear examples of my favorite POV. (I did hear that FP, however, was the easiest to do, maybe the mark of debut authors?) Hope not. I am a huge fan of author Diana Gabaldon who’s amped her popularity up to WILDLY popular since the Outlander series on Starz. Her Outlander books are all mostly FP POV. I’m writing the sequel now to my own FP time travel and struggling a bit with FP POV and omniscient in a double story line–centuries apart. Going to the HNS Writers Conference in Denver end of June and then to some of the settings in my books for photos and videos. Hate to miss your online sessions!! I love your style. Keep me posted.
    or Falorac13.

  34. Thank you and I always enjoy reading your posts. Like so many writers, I also struggle with those useless, “sense verbs.” never certain whether to ditch them or keep them. Your examples of Deep POV are clear and I look forward to reading your next posts.

  35. As always your post is extremely helpful. Now to get going to do all the work starting with the logline. Looking forward to that!

  36. Reblogged this on Alice White Author and commented:
    Excellent advice for writing in DEEP POV, by Kirsten Lamb.

  37. Deep POV seems to be the same as Free Indirect Discourse. I wrote a post about Free Indirect Discourse last week that you might find interesting.

  38. Reblogged this on Peggy Chambers "Views from the Hammock" site.

  39. Thank you Kristen for another great post. This has come at a great time for me as I plough my way through another chapter in my novel. Extremely useful guidance yet again. Mark 🙂

  40. Reblogged this on Jinxie's World and commented:
    For those of you wondering why I pull what I do from your books when I edit them…it apparently has a name I knew nothing about. LOL I call it something else….

  41. Excellent post! I’m definitely going to keep this in mind next time I write.

    • Carole on June 10, 2015 at 5:52 pm
    • Reply

    Thank you so much for this, I am just beginning my first rewrite on my first ms and this advice was fantastic. Will definitely be following your blog. Have a great day everyone.

  42. Reblogged this on SilverHart and commented:
    Kristen Lamb’s blog is one of our favorite. The commentary and commentary is amazing. Check her out.

  43. Gosh – all fascinating stuff. I’m going to have to look into this. BTW, I have linked our blogs: mine is <a href="The Writing Desk.

  44. Gosh – all fascinating stuff. I’m going to have to look into this; looking forward to Part 2. BTW, I have linked our blogs: mine is The Writing Desk

  45. This was great. You should do more posts like this. I thought the examples of stripping away words was very helpful. Maybe do similar examples of before and after prose. 🙂

  46. Reblogged this on jenapetrie and commented:
    Excellent article. Thanks, Kristen

    • maccrowne on June 10, 2015 at 10:41 pm
    • Reply

    Love it. Where were you several years ago? I could have avoided a lot of editorial angst. 🙂

  47. What a simple concept that really works. I plan to pass it on. Thank you.

    • Vivien Ochs on June 11, 2015 at 10:39 am
    • Reply

    Ahhhh I struggle so much with the ‘thinking’ and the ‘feeling’ – this was such an informative post!

    • margaretpinard on June 11, 2015 at 12:19 pm
    • Reply

    Oh dear, how many times have my characters ‘started to’ do something… I know, I KNOW!!! Greatly helpful post, Kristin, and something I’m grappling with these days- multiple POVs.

    1. I’m right there with you. I just deleted a million “started” and “seemed”

  48. Reblogged this on 10 Minutes Past Coffee and commented:
    If you want to keep your reader deeply entrenched in your book you need to know as much as possible about Deep POV and First Person POV… Kristen Lamb explains the mysteries of POV in a clear and concise manner that is hilariously refreshing!

    • kingsboro2008 on June 11, 2015 at 4:54 pm
    • Reply

    Reblogged this on matthewRstitt.

    • kingsboro2008 on June 11, 2015 at 4:55 pm
    • Reply

    Wow, every time I read something I learn something. Amazing blog Kristen

    • Sandra on June 11, 2015 at 5:36 pm
    • Reply

    I really enjoyed your post. I had come across deep POV a few years back (read a great book on it) but loved how effectively you explained it in a short space.

  49. You need a class on this!! 😀

  50. Knowledge bomb! Kaboom!

  51. I’m glad I finally got a chance to read this post all the way through. I’ve been hearing a lot about Deep POV lately and wasn’t sure exactly what it meant. I’m a fan of sparse prose too, so this is awesome! Thanks!

    • Dana on June 12, 2015 at 11:43 am
    • Reply

    I’m so glad that a friend suggested I follow your blog! Your advice is so great for novice writers (well any writer in general)

    • schillingklaus on June 12, 2015 at 1:02 pm
    • Reply

    Omniscient with overt authorial intrusivity (third-wall breakthrough and infodumping) is my one preferred way, and I won’t be deterred from it by any of your efforts.

    I see deep POV as completely unacceptable and incomprehensible drivel; consequently, I boycott all works that use it, as they are typically character-driven. Conversely, idea-driven prose in deep PoV is excessively rare.

    • Linda Tillis/ writing as Chloe Gibson on June 12, 2015 at 3:26 pm
    • Reply

    I am SO glad I found this article! POV is my weakness and I must not be alone! Thanks so much.

  52. Thanks for your advice,this post has inspired my to edit my stories on my blog,here a link to my blog

  53. Reblogged this on ace and commented:
    Wow.I love this post,if you are a wannabe writer,then you should read Kristen Lamb’s blog,it’s inspired me to edit some of my finished stories.

    • Sarah Caroline on June 15, 2015 at 6:18 pm
    • Reply

    I’ve never even heard the term “deep Pov” before so thanks for teaching it to me! And I already have a head start on dropping “she thought”. Now I have to work on “said”.

  54. I really liked this post, Kristen. The re-written sentences with Deep P.O.V. read so much smoother. I liked what you did with the sentence: The street was deserted. Would this be correct? Nicole saw a giant rattle snake in the grass. Change to: Ahead loomed a giant rattle snake. (??) Thank you so much for this great advice. Cheers, Kat Kent.

    1. Yes, that tightens it significantly.

      1. Thank you.

  55. Reblogged this on writersback and commented:
    Awesome advice from Kristen Lamb on applying DEEP POV in your writing. Really love this post. Cheers. Kat Kent

  56. I never had the patience to finish Moby Dick. It was interesting to learn what you had to say about Melville’s audience and their fascination with whales, since they had probably not ever seen one.

  57. And here I’ve been trying to incorporate those tags. I don’t like them, never have, yet I was under the impression that they were needed. Thank you!!!

  58. Thank you, thank you!! This is one of those writing tasks that has taken a while to click for me. I get it in theory, but doing it in my writing has been hard. Great examples–they totally helped! 🙂

  59. Your edited example is crystal clear. Now I have specific words, phrases to search for in my ms. Very nice!

    • darkocean on January 5, 2016 at 8:34 pm
    • Reply

    I loved this you explained everything in a way that’s easy to understand. Applying it is another matter. You can sometimes kill the tag for other characters, like my main went to sleep and woke up saying: Something was clamped to her face!

    I hope thats allowed. -It felt right for the scene, as she was sleeping so couldn’t know if it was a “who” or a “what”was touching her. It’s hard to think of every thing, but how many people wake up even being able to see fully? :p

    1. I’d have to read it in context to tell you but method act it.

      1. @Kristen L.

        Ah, sorry about that here’s a snippet:

        Something had clamped onto her! How did it find her again? No! Get off! The jumbled dream fell away and Merryn’s eyes snapped open. Parcival had his rough hands on the sides of her face, and kissed her like a he wanted to devour her. So much for him being one of the nice ones. Growling, she shoved him off of her onto the ground.

        Parcival toppled backwards. His eyes widened as he fell on his butt, hard.

        She hissed at him each word forced, “What do you think you are doing?”

        1. Too much overwriting. Stop holding our brains. If she shoves him and he lands somewhere, we “get” it is “off of her.”

          Something clamped onto her. How did it find her again? No! Get off! The jumbled dream fell away. Parcival’s rough hands on the sides of her face. Kissing her like he wanted to devour her.

          Growling, she shoved him backwards on his butt, hard. She hissed at him. “What do you think you are doing? Ugh! And I thought you were one of the nice ones!”

          1. Sorry I took so long to reply I gave most of my chapters heavy revisions. I tend to forhet about everything else for a while.

            Is this better?

            Something had clamped onto her. How did it find her again? Get off! The jumbled dream fell away and Merryn’s eyes snapped open. Nothing was there, but it had felt like someone one had their rough hands on the sides of her face.  

            What was it morning or evening? She took out a sun shard from her pouch, and held it in her palm. The shard turned an orange yellow. Morning. So many leagues left to travel. Why couldn’t they have let her use a portal after? She didn’t care about authenticity, meh.

            She stretched, and stood. A glint behind the coneafer tree. Trees didn’t glint. She supressed an urge to shout.

            Daggers in hand as she padded over towards it. Over there in the thorn bush.

            The something was tangled in the bush and thrashed about. With smooth red fur, or skin? There was no head to be seen.

            She went over and poked it with a jiggling dagger handle.

            The creature straightened and became taller. An appendage ripped free of the bush. A hand.


            Thank you for helping with this. ?(^?^)?

          2. Thank you for the critique! I thought I wasn’t doing that. >_<;; Why is it so hard to see this stuff in our own works?

          3. Because it IS. It is why we need brutal critique partners and merciless editors, LOL. Even me.

          4. And that is why I love most cridics.
            Some can be way of the mark and mix up my pov narrative with another kind, though that doesn’t happen that often.

            It’s amazing the difference a couple of years can make on your writing skills. 🙂

            I love when a cridic teaches something new. 🙂

            Or, points out a logic flaw.,

            Boy the moible reply text box has very little width and lots of hight.



  1. […] Deep P.O.V. Part One—What IS It? How Do We DO It?. […]

  2. […] Deep P.O.V. Part One—What IS It? How Do We DO It?. […]

  3. […] Kristen Lamb’s Blog […]

  4. […] […]

  5. […]  So, what is deep POV? Well, I’d sit here and explain it to you, but why should I when author, Kristen Lamb, has already done such an fantastic job in her article, Deep P.O.V. Part One—What IS It? How Do We DO It? […]

  6. […] « Deep P.O.V. Part One—What IS It? How Do We DO It? […]

  7. […] from Part 2: “Last time we talked about the history and evolution of POV (Point of View) and why certain types of POV might not be the best choice for a modern reader. We […]

  8. […] And then go here for her series of posts on POV  […]

  9. […] if we write using Deep POV, we don’t even need/use […]

  10. […] short, choppy declarations and long, rambling, conversational phrases. So does really honing your deep POV skills. The reason fan fic is useful for this is because it’s aiming for a very specific, […]

  11. […] on Deep POV with a super quick history of writing and a lot of humor from author and editor Kristen Lamb. She also includes an example, moving from omniscient narrator to deep POV in small steps for you […]

  12. […] on Deep POV with a super quick history of writing and a lot of humor from author and editor Kristen Lamb. She also includes an example, moving from omniscient narrator to deep POV in small steps for you […]

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