Do You Write in Deep Point of View?

May 16, 2011

As a non-fiction writer with 2,000- to 3,000-word limits for most of my writing, I was constantly looking for ways to “cut the fluff.” Any unnecessary words or information were fair game. I wanted my writing to be tight and for every word to have meaning.

As I write the first draft of my novel, I haven’t yet needed to cut words for my word count, although I suppose it could happen when I’m finished with the draft. I have, however, been aware of writing things that I don’t like and will eventually have to cut. I’ve also found that I still like to write tight.

This weekend at the OCCRWA meeting, Author Charlene Sands was the morning speaker. She gave a great presentation on the “Five Keys to Building a Better Book.” She compared writing a book to building a house, and gave some solid guidelines for both beginning and seasoned writers. Her fourth key was description, and this hit on my issue of “cutting the fluff.”

When Charlene talked about description, she didn’t limit the conversation to description of environment, fashion or the food someone was eating (although, those things were included). She talked about something that has been an issue for me. Dialogue. In my non-fiction writing, I didn’t write a lot of dialogue. And although I’m comfortable writing the dialogue itself, when I read back through my writing, I’m guilty of something I know is wrong…don’t like…and yet continue to do:

After a character speaks, I want to write “she shouted angrily” or “he said as he walked out of the room.”

I know it’s not necessary. I KNOW “he said” is implied. And there are better ways to let the reader know she was “shouting.” Yet as I read back through my work, I find too many places where I’ve written these words. This, and of course the over used exclamation point, as Charlene mentioned when speaking about description and dialogue (and Elley has mentioned before) have become two, of many, issues that I am on a quest to control.

Charlene gave several great examples, but I was taking notes with a pen and couldn’t write fast enough, so I’ll just share this one with you:

“I gave the jerk the best three years of my life!” Jill said proudly.

“I gave the jerk the best three years of my life.” Jill pulled her shoulders back and stood up straight.

By writing “Jill said,” you are telling the reader the story, but by taking that out and letting the story happen, the reader can stay in the story, and you, the writer, never have to intrude.

When I read, my favorite books are those that make me forget I’m reading. I get lost in the story. As a writer, I don’t want to tell the story—I want my character’s to tell their story. I want the reader to forget she is reading, and be lost in my heroine’s world.

I had heard the phrase “deep point of view” before, but wasn’t sure what it meant. Another new RWA member gave a great definition. (I’m sorry I didn’t catch her name.) She said that deep point of view is “conveying the feeling instead of telling how the character feels.”

I love books written in deep point of view, and although I didn’t know there was a name for it, this is the way I like to write. I like to stay in the story, in my character’s head, and I hope that my reader will be right there as well.

Saturday’s OCCRWA meeting was wonderful, and I’ll be sharing more of Charlene Sands presentation and afternoon speaker Author Leanne Banks’ presentation as well.

For now, as I write and edit, I’ll be looking for deep point of view in my writing. I’ll be looking for any fluff, but I’ll be paying close attention to what comes after dialogue. Does my story stay in the character’s head, or do I intrude as a writer?

What about you? Do you catch yourself writing “she shouted” or “he said”? Am I the only one who likes to read and write in deep point of view but didn’t know the phrase?

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