How To Tell If Your Writing Has Slipped Out Of Deep POV

Ah, deep POV. It’s something I’d never heard of when I started writing and was something I wasn’t even doing a year ago.

Since learning this wonderful writing trick (which you can read about here), I’ve added a new depth to my writing and upgraded to being a serious writer.

As with any new skill learned, writing in deep POV isn’t automatic for me yet and it gets drowned in my natural writing tendencies to clutter my scenes in stage directing, skip the showing for telling, and forget that deep POV exists. That’s the way I write my first few drafts and what I need to edit out in later drafts.

If you find yourself in the same boat, trying to hunt down all the places you’ve slipped out of deep POV, these tips may help you get back into that writing sweet spot.

Check Your Info Dumps

Info dumping is always at the top of the “don’t” list in the art of writing. The reason being that it’s so easy to do.

If you want the reader to know how a world works, how characters know each other, the layout of the room they’re in, etc, it’s easy to just dump it in a paragraph or write the setting likes it’s a guided tour—i.e. “The right side of the room was filled with bookshelves, the left half, a couch and a brown coffee table with a lamp”.

Instead, check that you’ve worked those details into your story through the deep POV of your characters. Is the MC staring at a generic list of furniture (couch, coffee table, armchair), searching for their car keys? Or are they pawing through crumb-filled couch cushions, coating the tips of their fingers in who knows what on the hunt for the missing keys?

Go deeper with the info you’re delivering to the reader, make sure you’re giving it to them from a personal, physical perspective (where it suits the story) instead of just info-dumping. That way you know you’re well and truly in the spotlight of deep POV.

Your Character Is A Sudden Know-It-All

When you’re writing deep POV, you’re in the character’s head. Everything that’s happening around them and to them should come from their viewpoint. If suddenly your character knows something they shouldn’t or couldn’t because they weren’t there experiencing it and/or told about it, you’ve slipped out of deep POV.

Comb through each chapter and look at the events your character has gone through and make sure you haven’t accidentally given them knowledge they shouldn’t have. It’s easy to do when you’re the author and know every plot point inside out, but be thorough. Work out who knows what, and make sure it all matches up to keep your deep POV intact.

There’s No Feeling

The beauty of deep POV is the connection it creates between the character and the reader. It allows the reader to relate to the people on the page. If you can’t feel that emotion when you’re writing, editing, or reading your work, chances are you’ve missed the mark.

As the writer, you’re more emotionally attached to your characters than anyone else. If you don’t think you can judge this, have a beta reader, or someone you trust, look at the sections where the feelings are on show. If they’re getting nothing, rework those sections and slip back into the land of deep POV.

You’re Not On Your Character’s Level

If your writing isn’t coming from a place where the words are a direct reflection of what the character is seeing or experiencing, you aren’t on the right level.

Don’t tell the reader your MC has just seen the love of his life; write about the way his heartbeat quickens, his palms go clammy, and how he stutters when he says “Hello.”

If the reader isn’t experiencing your story’s events through your character’s eyes as much as possible, try to make sure they do.

Combine this with rewriting your info dumps, double-checking what each character knows, and how the feelings invoked by your words are coming across on the page, and you’ve got all you need to see if you’ve slipped out of deep POV—and a starting point for fixing it.

Happy writing!

— K.M. Allan

43 thoughts on “How To Tell If Your Writing Has Slipped Out Of Deep POV

  1. Honestly your posts are always inspiring. Deep POV comes more naturally to me when I’m telling a story based (roughly or entirely) on something that has happened to me and that I feel deeply connected to. It’s difficult for me to write in deep POV any other time still.

    How do you motivate yourself and find the time to write so much? I find myself feeling so tired at the end of a long day that it is a little hard for me to keep going all the time.

    Love you posts, please keep posting these!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! I’ve had tired days like that too. A few years back I barely wrote at all, but then I stared writing for one hour every day. That got me into the habit. After that, it was just passion for writing and for my stories that kept me going and still keeps me writing now. I still have days when I don’t won’t to write, or I hate what I’m writing. I even have days where I skip writing all together and just watch Netflix instead. In the end, it’s just wanting to write that brings me back to my computer. I find once you light that fire, it’s hard to put out. Some days you make the time for writing, some days you don’t. Just do what you can, when you can 😊.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Deep POV reminds me of method acting – if we employ the same principle to our writing we should stay in our character’s head. I know I have to watch the info dump, showing not telling and especially developing the emotional connection. Thanks for another great post K.M. your advice is always so helpful.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Naomi! Yes, deep POV is very much like method acting. There’s a good book I read this year called “Method Acting for Writers” by Lisa Hall-Wilson that covers deep POV from that aspect.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Ruth Miranda

    (I know what the K stands for, it’s the M i’m curious about ahahhh)
    I sometimes slip off deep POV purposefully – I know it’s bloody jarring for the reader, but I still go on and do it – but depending on the book, I try not to unless I do want to cause some sort of mental breakdown on who’s reading. The past about the emotions, I find that very hard. I do not feel moved by my writing. In fact, I deliberately shield myself from it, I think. I dettach myself so I don’t get the ‘feels’ when I read my writing. Therefore I’m convinced my writing is rather dry, factual, especially on the Blood Trilogy, where I did try to have certain characters expose their past and what it did to them in as dry and soulless way as I could. But a few ppl have told my they cried reading certain scenes – and I’m like, what??? – or felt disgusted by other scenes, or that the violence level was such they had to stop reading. I think I’m just not very good at knowing when Ive got it just right or when I overstepped boundaries, because I dettach myself from my writing – or maybe I have a high tolerance level to certain issues? I find that I’m triggered the most when the emotional scenes involve sick or dying children and animals… It’s an issue I just don’t know how to sort. Just recently I wrote what I wish was a highly emotional scene where a character loses a loved one, and as I read it through, I felt nothing. Absolutely nothing but interest in how that is going to play up with the story. All I could elicit from myself while re-reading was curiosity as to how that death is going to affect the rest of the plot… even though I know how. It’s something I really need to work on much more.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. 😅 you can take a guess on the “M” if you like and I’ll let you know if you’re right.

      Only once have I ever gotten emotional reading back a scene I wrote. I need others to let me know if I’ve hit the feeling I’m trying to achieve. I think writers can sometimes be just too close to the work, or as you’ve said, turning themselves off to it so they can write. If others have told you they felt a certain way reading your stuff, I’d take that as a win you got it right 😊.

      Liked by 2 people

  4. Deep POV is what I try to use, but it’s so easy to slip. I’m revising a first draft at the moment, converting the show to tell, trying to nail deep POV, but it’s easy to get caught up in the story and forget that you’re revising! After reading your post, I’m thinking that a method might be to highlight (dayglo yellow I think) all the “stared”, “watched” etc. words, page by page, then go back to them and deal. Thanks for an inspiring post!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Great idea, Tracy! I’m doing the same, rewriting all my tell to show and trying to add deep POV and not slip out of it. I might give your highlighting trick a try on my next round of edits. Thanks for reading, and good luck with your revisions😊.

      Liked by 2 people

  5. I think the “no feelings” part is tricky – several read-throughs and edits down the line, it’s possible to get desensitized to at least some aspects of the story. Anyway, it’s a good list.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Tomas 😊. Yep, that’s why I suggest writers get others to read the parts with feelings. It’s too easy for us to not feel it after reading the words a million times when writing/editing.

      Liked by 2 people

    1. Hi 😊! Thanks for reading. Deep POV is about putting yourself in the characters shoes and writing everything from their perspective-what they see, hear, feel etc. There’s a link to another blog that explains it at the top of this blog. Look for the “Since learning this wonderful writing trick (which you can read about here)” sentence and click on the link 😊. I hope it helps answer your questions.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Brilliant tips as always, I read through them hoping I hadn’t missed an important way to show deep POV. Although I follow each tip, I need to strengthen how my characters see and interact with their surroundings and check that the emotions/ reactions actually suit the character I’m writing about. 💜😊🌺

    Liked by 1 person

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  8. onth3cusp

    The only time I would disagree with this advice is if you’re writing in Third POV Omniscient – in which you’re technically in no one’s head (unless the all-knowing narrator counts as a character and you’re in their head!)

    Liked by 1 person

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