Kindle Forum banner
1 - 18 of 18 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,000 Posts
Discussion Starter · #1 ·
For the past few months I've been reading everything I can on deep POV, such as Jill Nelson's Rivet Your Readers with Deep POV. I loved her targeted exercises (as opposed to freewrite exercises in most writing books). I've also been reading articles that I can find. I get most of it, however, there's a couple things I have been contemplating, and I am still not sure how to go about them.

Nelson has a very pattern to deep POV in each paragraph, ie, action, dialogue, and inner thoughts. A simple example would be: Amy clung to the edge of the door. "Are you leaving?" Where could she go, with no money and no place to stay?

I didn't even see her mention this pattern in so many words, but by the end of the book, it was pretty obvious to me, and I began to find it kind of repetitive. I think it works great as a general concept, and that may very well be what she intended, but most of the exercises were formatted that way. As for italics, she's generally against them, though I still came to the conclusion they're good for thoughts you really want to pinpoint (ie. plot clues). I still sometimes found the inner dialogue to be too much, or at points where I didn't really want to give the reader too much information.

One thing I've noticed about some books, especially in more physical genres like thrillers or sci fi, good authors put in slower chapters. I think sometimes readers need a break from go-go-go! I do think our culture has become accustomed to hyper-intense media, and the answer may very well be the opposite. But I also think that just having a sweet scene between two characters, even in the most physically active novel, can be a good change of pace.

I wrote several chapters using Nelson's method as strictly as possible, just to see how it came out, and I found it very choppy. I also thought information got restated too much, and it just wasn't smooth. So I started researching narrative summary, which is also considered "telling" in the writing world. I found there is almost nothing on it. Everybody writes about deep POV, and avoids narrative summary. Now, while I agree that most writers go to narrative summary too easily, I am not really one of those writers. If I knew anything about making movies, I'd probably be better as a screenwriter because I tend toward all dialogue. I also am coming to the conclusion that having no narrative summary at all is an intermediate writer's mistake, and the sign that someone is not fully mature as a writer. I've read those big name authors that say "Show, don't tell", but even they have some telling.

There are two references for narrative summary I have found. One is actually my editing software, that has a checker for how narrative summary is spread throughout the text. It seems to limit it to about 200 words per 1000 words. Whether that's good or not, I dunno. The other is von Dolzer's article about narrative summary being like movie montages. I thought that was an interesting way to look at it, but didn't really go deep enough into the subject.

So, my questions:
-Is the action, dialogue, inner thoughts method too strict? Works well?
-Can you have too much unitalicized thoughts?
-Can you have too much deep POV or showing?
-Does deep POV need to be tempered with narrative summary sometimes?

(Sorry this is long, but it's a lot to process...)
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,274 Posts
I suspect like most craft threads this will sink. I have no real understanding of what you are talking about in specific (I don't know this author's work.)

But what I have to say about POV and showing vs. telling is this: The whole "show don't tell" thing is, in my mind, not ironclad. There are loads of times when we do tell things in novels. Exposition is needed. And when it is needed, there's no way around it but to give it.

My philosophy is balance. If something works well in a specific way you should do it in that way and not try to shoehorn it in. That means not telling constantly, because much of what you are writing can be shows. But it also means not showing things that really deserve to be told.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
571 Posts
A book written to a formula will never be as good as it could be. Period.

A book written following a "rule" to the letter will not be as good as it could be. (Except when it comes to grammar. Grammar = rules.)

Your job as a writer is to use your senses and emotions to make sure the words flow, touch, speak, show, and tell with clarity.

A formula can't do that. There are only guidelines. Variety is the spice of writing.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,716 Posts
LynnBlackmar said:
-Is the action, dialogue, inner thoughts method too strict? Works well?
It's probably too strict. Any more than two sentence/paragraph/scene types of the same kind in a row are probably too many.

I say "probably" because it's possible to have a story and style that lends itself to repetition. (Note that a writer's "writing style" can be malleable, making them able to handle different stories differently.)

But if you're sounding choppy even to your own ear… It's not working.

LynnBlackmar said:
-Can you have too much unitalicized thoughts?
Yes. You can also have too few unitalicized thoughts. Again, this is where the writing style comes in-and to be honest, publisher style can affect this, too.

LynnBlackmar said:
-Can you have too much deep POV or showing?
Yes. "Too much" would be to the point that the reader doesn't understand what's going on or why.

To write up a quick example of too much "showing":
She opened the fridge. Empty shelves stared back at her. Again. She firmly shut the fridge and turned to face him. "So you went to the store, did you?" His constant lying was so pathetic.
Is she furious? Frustrated? Sad? You have no idea.

People don't all feel the same in the same situations-and we don't all react the same when we have the same emotions. When I'm about to lose my temper, I laugh. It's a tense laugh, but it's a laugh. Confused my brother, while we were growing up, because he thought the laugh meant my anger had been defused, and then he didn't understand why I blew my top shortly thereafter.

Set into a scene wherein you already know the emotions involved, that example could work. But if the reader has never been "told" the motives and such, then it wouldn't work.

LynnBlackmar said:
-Does deep POV need to be tempered with narrative summary sometimes?
Depends on what you mean by each, but likely so.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,262 Posts
Yeah, you have to make a thousand judgements when writing a book about whther to show or tell. Sometimes the point is necessary to the plot, but isn't interesting enough to waste a couple paragraphs to show it, so you tell it in five words. I try to show the things I find the most interesting, and tell the things I need. No formula there, though. I just use the force. No clue of it's gonna come out right.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
130 Posts
Katy said:
A book written to a formula will never be as good as it could be. Period.

A book written following a "rule" to the letter will not be as good as it could be. (Except when it comes to grammar. Grammar = rules.)

Your job as a writer is to use your senses and emotions to make sure the words flow, touch, speak, show, and tell with clarity.

A formula can't do that. There are only guidelines. Variety is the spice of writing.
The entire purpose of rules, IMHO, is to have a handy guideline to the tools you have in your arsenal to write a story. Not even grammar is ironclad because you can write a sentence that is "broken" and there's still plenty of clarity. No. Really. Absolutely too much Deep POV is just as bad as too much straight narrative. It is about balance. Know the rules/guidelines to write a story. Break them at times to tell a better one.

Sidenote: I think of Deep POV as tightening the lens of the storytelling. Third POV is pretty close, but sometimes getting right into the characters head just comes across better. Of course, genres like thriller or horror is good at this, but I write romance and you can find plenty Deep POV.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
177 Posts
Deep POV is essentially telling the story as if from inside the character's head rather than from a distance. Rather than saying something like, "she saw him shrug," you just show readers what she saw--that he shrugged. Same with felt, heard, etc. You don't include anything that the character doesn't experience. Don't describe something she can't see or hear, or something she's not acknowledging. For example, "He frowned but she was too busy to notice." If you're in her POV, and she was too busy to notice the frown, then it's not in deep POV.

You don't have to phrase everything as a question--unless that specific character is prone to asking lots of questions.

If you want to see deep POV done really well, read some of Suzanne Brockmann's older books (I haven't read her newer releases, so I'm not sure if it still applies). She's a master at it.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,600 Posts
LynnBlackmar said:
So, my questions:
-Is the action, dialogue, inner thoughts method too strict? Works well?
I think this is probably a case of her using a lot of examples to highlight her point and forgetting to point out that not every paragraph needs all three. Sometimes you want a conversation to be sharp and snappy, so you'll have almost all dialogue with only a few brief actions or attributions. If that's what the story needs, it's cool to do that. Sometimes you'll have more action, with thoughts peppered throughout and almost no dialogue at all. And that's okay, too, because if the story needs that, it's cool. Basically, just take it as an example of how to do deep POV, not as a rule that you have to do every paragraph that way.

LynnBlackmar said:
-Can you have too much unitalicized thoughts?
In deep POV (also known as 3rd person subjective) italicized thoughts are totally unnecessary. The whole point of deep POV is that it puts the reader in the POV character's head so the thoughts are made clear in the narrative without separating them out in separate sentences.

LynnBlackmar said:
-Can you have too much deep POV or showing?
I don't know if you can have 'too much' deep POV, but I'm positive it can be done badly. And you can, absolutely, have too much showing. In a mystery, for example, if your hero has just found out something vital in a scene and he's going back to relay the info to his partner, the reader will have just seen the scene play out, so they don't need to see it again. Instead, you can sum up the info that the reader already knows with a couple of lines of telling, and then have the partners discuss from there.

LynnBlackmar said:
-Does deep POV need to be tempered with narrative summary sometimes?
A lot of times you can get narrative summary into the story in the character's POV. Say you need to let your reader know that Character A is a real Grade A jerk. So you can show him being a jerk. But when you're showing him being a jerk, because you're deep into your narrative character's POV, you can use subjective words to do it - curse words or epithets, for example - that wouldn't normally be a part of the narrative if the POV was, for example, omniscient. Basically, your narrator's tone of voice when speaking will tend to bleed over into the narrative sections that are done in his POV.

In deep POV, you can do pretty much** everything you can in 3rd person restricted. The only difference is, in 3rd subjective, everything is filtered through the narrative character's eyes and subject to his emotions and experiences.

**Disclaimer: I say 'pretty much' because I can't think of any differences right now, but may think of something later.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
670 Posts
I've read those big name authors that say 'Show, don't tell', but even they have some telling.
The entire purpose of rules, IMHO, is to have a handy guideline to the tools you have in your arsenal to write a story.
There are the "rules." And there is the real world of writing. I've also struggled with POV for years (also with my editors!). I agree that the "rules" should be used as guidelines. I used two approaches in training myself in the craft of novel writing: a) I read lots of "how to" books and articles; and b) I scrutinized and analyzed the works of many of the most successful novelists across genres, but then concentrated on my genre of political thrillers. I see that all of these authors break the "rules" all the time and render very readable stories with plots that move. When I'm reading a novel of a successful author, I'll consciously be aware of "telling" vs "showing" here and there. But I'll then ask myself: Does this work? More often than not, it does. Writing is art, after all.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
4,412 Posts
I never really thought of it as a formula and I do have moments of deep pov in my books. At least, I think I do and reviews tend to back that up.

To organize my thoughts, I'll post your questions here too.

-Is the action, dialogue, inner thoughts method too strict? Works well?

I think you have to go with what you're comfortable with. I know I could never write with a strict pattern in mind. I can barely write a coherent reply on a message board without swinging off onto some tangent. Like you said, I think a whole book of it would be tiring to read.
-Can you have too much unitalicized thoughts?
I rarely italicize thoughts. When I do, it's one or two words at at time and usually it's a curse word. Partly I don't because there are a few dreams in each book and I try to reserve italics for those scenes, but I think half my book would be italicized if I did it for all the thoughts. Unless I not thinking of it like you are? I write close third person and I never have my characters slip into first person thoughts. What I do occasionally-like a few times per book--is have my character focus on something that sets the tone of the scene. The reader 'sees' it just like he does. Here's one from No Good Deed:

Mark dropped his hand to his left thigh, rubbing the scar. He could feel the ridge of it through the coveralls they had made him wear.
"So, you've never once told me who your sources were. Do you understand how that makes you look now?"
"Yeah." He drew in a ragged breath and bent his head. The remains of a cockroach stained the cement between his feet. He nudged it with his toe.
-Can you have too much deep POV or showing?
I think so. The reader might get confused as to what is actually going on. Even with showing it all, I think sometimes a story needs to step back a little and let the reader catch his breath and digest what they've read.

-Does deep POV need to be tempered with narrative summary sometimes? In my opinion, yes.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5,262 Posts
Mathew Reuther said:
So DEEP POV is just another name for Third Person Close?
I was gonna say that first is deep as well, but that's pretty redundant, isn't? I mean, you can't get closer than telling the thing in the MC's own words. No hiding his thoughts -- not unless he's nuts -- so you get a first hand look at the soul.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,600 Posts
Mathew Reuther said:
So DEEP POV is just another name for Third Person Close?
I always knew it as third person subjective, but yeah, same thing. I'd never heard 'deep pov' until I came here.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,274 Posts
vrabinec said:
I was gonna say that first is deep as well, but that's pretty redundant, isn't? I mean, you can't get closer than telling the thing in the MC's own words. No hiding his thoughts -- not unless he's nuts -- so you get a first hand look at the soul.
Yeah, which is why I write 1st for my crime stuff.

But I write 3rd close for my YA fantasy, for example. It's actually a lot like my first, just over the shoulder. Nothing ever gets described that my VP character can't know.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
398 Posts
I've never heard the term Deep POV before. I think maybe this would be some kind of philosophical discussion about what Point of View is. ;)

Mathew Reuther said:
But what I have to say about POV and showing vs. telling is this: The whole "show don't tell" thing is, in my mind, not ironclad. There are loads of times when we do tell things in novels. Exposition is needed. And when it is needed, there's no way around it but to give it.

My philosophy is balance. If something works well in a specific way you should do it in that way and not try to shoehorn it in. That means not telling constantly, because much of what you are writing can be shows. But it also means not showing things that really deserve to be told.
This, exactly. You should show as much as you can but some things get told. It has to happen once in and while, especially in first person but even in third. I once had a guy critique one of my stories and flag everything that was telling as "SHOW!!!! DO NOT TELL!" I was like, calm down buddy. Showing is an important thing to learn, especially when people first start out writing fiction so it's stressed a lot. The key is to learn when telling works without feeling like a rip off or info dump.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
979 Posts
Mathew Reuther said:
So DEEP POV is just another name for Third Person Close?
This. I recommend "The Making of a Story: A Norton Guide to Writing Fiction and Nonfiction" by Alice LaPlante She has an excellent chapter on POV that discusses third person close and other POV.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
1,000 Posts
Discussion Starter · #17 ·
I believe they are the same thing. I think "deep POV" is just the new trendy term. It is very much like first with third pronouns.

I totally think they should be guidelines, but boy, I've seen people go off the deep end in writers' groups when there's even the slightest bit of telling, even when it's necessary for either bringing the reader on the same page or smoothing out a section. I tend to put maybe one or two lines of telling at a time, instead of whole paragraphs, mixed in with the deep POV. This has been working better for me.

I do think that genre has a lot of influence, and I think there are better and worse ways of showing while balancing a little bit of telling. I also think that "show, don't tell" is an easy platitude instead of actually giving a detailed answer. I wish there was more out there on it that wasn't black and white.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,716 Posts
vrabinec said:
I was gonna say that first is deep as well, but that's pretty redundant, isn't? I mean, you can't get closer than telling the thing in the MC's own words. No hiding his thoughts -- not unless he's nuts -- so you get a first hand look at the soul.
Actually, it is possible to write first person distant. It's just not as common.

And yes, "deep POV" = "close POV".

Third person subjective is something else-that's when the narrator gives opinions regarding what's related, but you don't get character thoughts. You could view the "deep/close" third as an extension of third subjective, though.
 
1 - 18 of 18 Posts
Top