When we’re writing in deep POV, as writers, we have to get deep into our characters’ heads. We have to know what they’re seeing, feeling and thinking. But how do we get our readers into our characters’ heads, too (I mean, isn’t it getting a little crowded in here?).
Open in that point of view
Start the scene in the POV character’s head as opposed to, say, using someone else’s (or possibly even the POV character’s) dialogue. While an interesting line of dialogue may make a good hook, it can also make it harder to figure out whose head we’re in, and how we should interpret that line. This is especially important in the very first scene (an example of this from Edittorrent).
When we begin a scene in the character—talking about what they’re seeing, doing, feeling, perceiving—it gives our readers a clearer idea of what’s happening and just whose thoughts they’ll be privy to for at least this scene. You’re not required to make sure the first character named in the scene is the POV character, but it can help orient your readers if you’re using multiple viewpoint characters, and especially if you have more than one of them in the scene (another Edittorrent example).
Open with an anchor
Sometimes I get so into opening inside a character’s head that I make the mistake of opening scenes right inside their thoughts. For example, opening a scene like this:
Why was this her cross to bear? Why did it have to happen this way?
And on for several more lines. Say this is from the middle of a story and we only have one female POV character. The reader can figure out pretty quickly who’s thinking this—but let’s not make the reader work to figure out what’s going on.
When we open in a POV character’s head, we usually need some sort of anchor to let us know who, when and where we are:
Jessica flipped through the pages of her father’s journal in disbelief. Why was this her cross to bear? Why did it have to happen this way?
Note that this is totally, completely my opinion, but it’s an opinion I’ve arrived at from inspecting my own work closely.
Next week, we’ll look at even more techniques for deep POV, to make sure your readers stay in your characters’ heads, as well as how to convey your characters’ voice deep POV.
How do you establish POV in your scenes? What techniques do you use early on to make sure we know whose head we’re in?