31 Days: A Newbie’s Guide to Deep Point of View

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My first draft was riddled with rookie mistakes. As is the case when attempting to learn a craft or acquire a new skill, I didn’t know what I didn’t know … until I stepped out of my comfort zone and asked others to critique my fiction writing. “Head hopping” wasn’t in my vocabulary until I joined a critique group and more seasoned writers showed me the error of my ways. In case you aren’t familiar, Stefan Vucak defines head hopping as “where the author jumps from one character to another within the same paragraph or scene without first alerting the reader that he is now dealing with a different character’s point of view.” It is confusing, to say the least, and reflects poorly on the writer.

Fiction readers want to escape from ordinary life and immerse themselves in the world of the protagonist. In romance novels, I think this is best achieved by learning to write in deep point of view, also known as deep POV. It is a bit of a challenge to learn to write in deep POV, but the end result is a more enjoyable read. While writing in deep POV doesn’t necessarily eliminate head hopping, I think rising to the challenge of acquiring this complex skill helps a writer understand why head hopping simply won’t do.

Although this topic is widely covered in fiction writing blogs, here are three of the most helpful posts I’ve found in recent months:

  • Author Barbara Wallace offers tips to get started, including my favorite tip: try drafting the scene in first person. Seriously. So helpful. Find the whole article here
  • Author Paula Mowery says, “deep POV is a skill in progress.” She covers some basic tips here
  • For a more intense look at deep POV, including a useful checklist, see this post by Juliette Wade
  • If you have time to read a short book about deep POV, I highly recommend Rivet Your Readers With Deep POV by Jill Elizabeth Nelson. A handy resource that costs less than $6.

Your turn: Any tips for eliminating those pesky head hopping scenes from your WIP? 

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