Home    Workshops    Members Only    Contests    Join    Contact us                       RWA Chapter

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

What the Heck is Deep Point of View? by Carrie Lofty

So often when receiving critiques from peers, editors or agents, the subject of “deep point of view” can rear its head. What, exactly, does that entail? How can we add depth to characters--and therefore depth to our stories--by immersing readers into unique, powerful points of view?

My upcoming course for FF&P is title “Beyond Research: Stronger Point of View and the Effective Use of Detail.” I initially approached the topic from the perspective of a historical romance writer--hence the workshop title "Beyond Research." Originally, I wanted to convey to workshop attendees that research was not the be-all end-all. It's not about how many obscure details you can cram into a book, but how meaningfully those details create individual characters who resonate with the reader.

I accidentally stumbled on this idea for myself while teaching an introductory creative writing class for senior citizens. We were in a spare, industrial room, where florescent lights glared down on long gray desks--a wholly uninspiring space. But as I looked out across the room, I noticed that all of the chairs were brightly colored plastic. My daughters, then age three and four, would've loved that room. They would've run along the four tiered levels, probably skipping back and forward along each one, and most certainly counting the number of blue, red, yellows, and green chairs. They would've used the chalkboard to keep track of each color.

To write a description of that room from a non-parents' perspective might have been a dull affair, but to describe it from my POV would've demonstrated a mother's affection for her blossoming children. To write it from a child's POV would've been to create a place nearly as much fun as a playground. Perspectives make the scenes, the characters, and the story as a whole.

Grounding any information--from historical details to paranormal world-building--within POV not only provides the reader with a sense of location, but helps her connect to the characters. Details that do not contribute to this goal are expendable. 

With that in mind, consider the following passages. One is from my June 26 release from Pocket Books, STARLIGHT, and the other was taken from Wikipedia. Both describe the Northern Lights.

Being able to name each star held nothing to way he saw the aurora anew. Through her eyes. He had wanted to show her a natural marvel. Instead, she had given him a gift. He saw color like a field of flowers and movement like a dancing angel. Science fell away to reveal only beauty. Now, this moment with Polly wove into each of his veins and promised to remain just as bright.

Auroras seen near the magnetic pole may be high overhead, but from farther away, they illuminate the northern horizon as a greenish glow or sometimes a faint red, as if the Sun were rising from an unusual direction. Discrete aurorae often display magnetic field lines or curtain-like structures, and can change within seconds or glow unchanging for hours, most often in fluorescent green.

The second, factual description is pure research, but readers would be disappointed if that was the full extent of how information was relayed to them in fiction. The description as seen from Alex Christie’s point of view is more personal. He’s a scientist who’s suddenly looking at a familiar sight in very new ways.

That is deep point of view. Take research. Make it personal. Use it to enrich characters and further the plot or romance.

I hope you’ll come along with me as we further explore the concept of deep point of view, and how little tricks and details will enrich your writing. Once you start to see through the eyes of your characters, you’ll never see research or your writing the same way again.

Next up for Carrie:

STARLIGHT, the second full-length romance in the Christies series, is set in Victorian Glasgow. It just received a 4½ stars Top Pick from RT Book Reviews. Then comes Pocket Star digital original, HIS VERY OWN GIRL, an honest to goodness historical romance set in WWII! Available September 4.

Carrie on the internet

Twitter: @carrielofty


I hope you will join my class
Beyond Research: Stronger POV
& Effective Use of Detail
Hosted by
Fantasy-Futuristic & Paranormal
Romance Writers
This 2 week class starts July 2nd
For more information click HERE.


Author Guy said...

An excellent post. I discovered this myself in my first novel, simply because I hate to read or write descriptive prose. Using the character's perceptions and words is a much more dynamic and attractive way of showing what is going on to that character. Different characters can perceive the same scene in different ways, creating a larger awareness of what is going on than a mere static description could ever do.

Mary Hughes said...

Great post, Carrie! I love your presentations and classes. Every one I've attended has given me timely, vital information in a lively and entertaining way. And immediately useful! Thank you!

angelaparsonmyers said...

Deep point of view was concept introduced to me by my editor at Etopeia Press. I was using it part of the time instinctively, but needed to use it all the time. I'm pretty excited to have my first novel, "When the Moon Is Gibbous and Waxing" out there for folks to enjoy now.

Nancy Lee Badger said...

Fantastic explanation of something a reader might not consider. Head-hopping was my problem at first. I am working on getting DEEP POV into all my stories. Thanks!

Eldheni said...

Good points. I might add, as I am certain you cover in your book, that writers adding such detail must be mindful of the person whose pov they are using. Even the most fantastic scene, if it is common place to the pov character, must be described as they would see it...all but overlooked.