Tuesday, June 08, 2010

Deep POV, Setting & Me

I love to write. I do. I love working out the plot points and solving the trickier turning points. I love fleshing out GMC and developing my characters. I love hammering out the timeline, coming up with funny snippets and watching the movie reel unwind in my mind as my characters interact.

But I often have one piece missing--setting. I don't want to get bogged down in descriptions that are out of place, pull the reader out of the story, or worse, bore the heck out of people. But I know that I need setting if I am going to ground my readers into a world.

Ah, world building. Isn't that supposed to be for paranormal, sci-fi, historical or science fiction? I'm writing contemporary romances, right? I can skim over the details of setting. No. And the more I write, the more I realize that I need effectively weave in setting and backstory so that it is truly part of my characters' lives.

I know this tapestry, rich and filled with many threads, will deepen my characters' POV.

I've struggled with Deep POV. How can I become better at giving my characters a deep POV. One explanation I read really helped me understand this better. I can't remember where I picked this one up-- a Twitter Post leading me to a blog which led me to another blog--who knows. But here it is:

Deep POV is also referred to as Limited Third Person. It takes you deep inside your character, showing not only what he feels in response to a situation, but why he feels that way. It adds a depth of emotion to a scene. In order to achieve deep POV a writer must dig deep into their characters' personalities and motivations. In a sense they become the character, allowing the reader to view the inner workings of the POV character's mind and thus experience the scene as the POV character does. The reader does more than read a story they live it. 

Wow. Another way of understanding how to achieve Deep POV is through writing the story in first person, then shifting the work into third person. Tricky! Yup. Now I've never written on the fly as far as fiction goes when it comes to blogging, but I thought I'd give it a whirl. 

Disclaimer: I do not do online fiction prompts because my first drafts often consist of words like "insert @@ here" or "Fix later" --get the sad and sorry picture? And grammar is not my ultimate forte--that is why I have CPs LOL (Bless them).

So here goes:

Sometimes when she drove along the small country roads in Northern Alabama during a cloudy day, she was drawn back to when she was a child visiting her Oma in Holland. The Dutch low clouds, gray and billowy, almost touched the ground and made her feel like she was driving through a pillow. The windshield wiper slapped against the glass in a steady cadence, back and forth, mesmerizing her as she rested her head in her Oma's lap while she sucked on a snoopje. The salty, black licorice calmed her carsickness as Oma snuggled her close to her ample bosum.  But today, as she drove through the misty rain, the wipers sounded like gongs, and upped the pain throbbing in her temples. The low clouds touching the swampy land were like a suffocating blanket ready to smother her. She pulled into her driveway, opened her garage door and drove inside. No one was waiting inside her house to hold her, or to comfort her with a stolen piece of candy. But she still tasted salt as her tears tracked down her cheeks and moistened her taut lips. She'd always said she'd never die in Alabama. Today she learned she might break that promise.

Disclaimer: this work is a piece of fiction. Please don't start sending me flowers or begin my funeral arrangements.

So what do you think? Am I getting there? I don't know, but I am enjoying the journey.


JoAnn said...

I love this, Christine! You totally had me there in the car with her. You worked the setting into the story -- it's not a "backdrop" for the character to act in front of; she is a part of her environment.

I wish my first drafts read this well!

And thanks for sharing the deep POV definition you found. Very helpful.

Wendy Marcus said...

Hi Christine!
I know where you got the paragraph about deep POV from...my blog! How cool is that! I'm honored to be included in your post, and I'm so glad I could help.

Jean said...

It took me there!

Christine said...

Wow, I am blushing. Maybe I should write all my first drafts in first person and then change to third. Wow. Thanks JoAnn.

Christine said...

Hi Wendy! I knew I got it from a blog but couldn't remember it. I copied and pasted the definition into a word doc and saved it without the credit--thank you so much for sharing your blog with me!

Christine said...

Jean, thank you very much. I wish all my writing were that eloquent. But I certainly have learned something from writing this little prompt. Might have to do that more often on my own blog.

Fear stopped me. Now I will keep sticking my neck out there.

Carla Swafford said...

Good post, Christine!

Christine said...

Thanks Carla--I had fun writing it despite my angst about "going public."


Jeanie said...

Excellent, post, Christine. Getting deep inside my characters' heads is always a challenge. Love the snippet about deep POV and LOVE your passage. I think you've got it licked, girl!

M.V.Freeman said...

Excellent Christine..

But whats a snoopje...I know its licorace tasting (see what I focus on, the food. Not the fact that there is death looming...)

It is definitely making me think! :D

Christine said...

Jeanie: After I wrote the post, I thought that this was an excellent way to go back in and revise key scenes in my WIPs. I'd specifically target them from a first POV then switch to third to deepen my characters' POVs. Of course, I hope I am doing some of that naturally without having to make the switch. :-)

Christine said...

Hi Mary: Snoopje is Dutch for "little candy." Anytime there is a "je" at the end of a word, the word takes on a connotation of "little.' A lot of Dutch children have the "je" added to their names. So when I was little, my dad would call me Christineje and my brother was Robje. "Je" is pronounced "ye."

Yes, deep POV is definitely making me think, too.


M.V.Freeman said...

That is so interesting, languages fascinate me. Thank you Christine.

Now, to wrestle with more POV....

Cari Hislop said...

Christine, that was gorgeous!!! I loved the contrasting of the two landscapes and the opposite emotional settings. I can't be the only one who needs to know what happens next.

Christine said...

Hi Cari: Thanks--I might have to write that story one day. It was just a snippet that came from nowhere and landed in my brain.

Indeed, what does happen next is a wonderful mystery to unravel as writers.

Gwen Hernandez said...

Brilliant. I wanted to read more! You keep saying you can't do impromptu, but I think you should join me and Martha. You're great.

Good insight into deep POV as well. Thanks!

Christine said...

Hi Gwen: Thanks! I wish I could write that well all the time. But it is a process. I decided to do a prompt for fun. I think I might do it again. The things is I really had to think about it a lot.

That POV/first person then switch to third explanation was a huge lightbulb moment for me.

Cari Hislop said...


Good luck with all your stories! I bet they're fantastic. It is weird when stories erupt out of nowhere, but I've had that happen several times. Sometimes I wonder if stories come from an alternate universe like puzzles in a box without the picture, waiting for us to put back together. Alright, that's my weird thought for the day. Hi ho it's back to work I maybe go.