Deep POV

I like to read books on writing. As a writer, who doesn’t? Developing your craft, focusing on your strengths and weaknesses and making your writing as — well — read-worthy as possible.

Currently, I’m not going to lie to you — I’m reading a book called A Writer’s Guide to Harry Potter. It sounds stupid maybe, or not very authentic or easy to talk smack on — but it’s not. Seriously, I’m learning so much more from this book than I thought I was going to. It was I think $2 in the Kindle store so I decided to just go with it (I’m going to write a full review on it when I’m finished, so if you’re iffy you can just wait for that.)

The whole point of this book is to look at techniques J.K. Rowling used that made her series so popular, essentially. Not just focusing on the success of Harry Potter necessarily, but looking at the writing styles and techniques she practiced that made it easier for us to all connect with her writing. I came across an exercise yesterday that was so simple, yet so affective, and I would have never thought about it otherwise. It’s called “Deep POV (Point of View)”. The book writes how we’re able to connect with Harry because we’re always in his head, always know what he’s thinking, etc. As an omniscient narrator in a third person story, sometimes it’s hard to allow yourself to get into that mindset. You know what you want your characters to experience, but sometimes it’s harder to convey. So, the advice/exercise was to write a scene in first person narrative, and then change all the first person adjectives, adverbs, etc… to make it third person. If you’re an omniscient third person writer, I highly recommend trying this exercise at least once and seeing what you can create. Below is what I’ve got.

If you’ve been following me for a while, you may have come across my “The Senses: Hear Me Out” post at some point, where I discuss the novel I’ve been working on. The following excerpt(s) is from the first chapter when we first meet the girlfriend, Kaylee, of our main character, Donovan. I was always told I didn’t convey his love for her enough, so I took this exercise and re-wrote her entire introduction from his head, and this is what I’ve come up with:

Original Excerpt

Kaylee snapped him out of his thoughts in a rush as she dropped her book bag on the table and sat down on the chair diagonally from him. He pulled his headphones out of his ears, forgetting for a moment that he was still in the library studying.

“Hey,” she said breathlessly as she pulled a psychology textbook from her bag and plopped it down. “I thought I might find you here. I know we both have a lot of studying to do, and I haven’t seen you in a couple of days.”

A few blond strands hung loosely outside her ponytail, as if he had fallen asleep with her hair up and neglected to fix it when she woke. She gave him a quick kiss before returning to her chair and flipping the book open to a bookmarked page. Donovan smiled. He knew she got like this when she allowed stress to get the best of her. In Kaylee’s mind, there was never enough time for anything, and as soon as more than two things piled onto her to-do list she started to panic.

“That may be just as much your fault as it is mine,” he said. “Is this the first time you’ve left your house since Friday?”

“No. I worked both Saturday and yesterday, and Gabrielle’s parents decided to drop by for a surprise dinner with us last night and I had to cut out four hours of study time.”

He put his hand on hers as she began to fumble through her notes to try and put them in order.

“Kaylee,” he said slowly. “You’re fine. Midterms are still three weeks away.”

“I know, but we’re going to cover two more chapters in that amount of time, and if I don’t already have these three memorized then I’m going to fail. And we have a mini quiz on chapters one and two on Thursday which was what I was going to do last night before –”

First Person Narrative

Kaylee snapped me out of my thoughts in a rush as she flew into the library, dropping her book bag breathlessly on the table and sitting diagonally from me. I pulled my headphones out of my ears, realizing I had been lost in my own world.

“Hey,” she said, the waves of exhaustion evident in her voice as she pulled a psychology textbook from her bag and plopped it down. The weight of the book shook the table and I wondered for a moment how she managed to carry it around all day. “I thought I might find you here. I know we both have a lot of studying to do, and I haven’t seen you in a couple of days.”

A few blond strands hung loosely outside her ponytail, as if she had fallen asleep with her hair up and neglected to fix it when she woke. She gave me a quick kiss before returning to her chair to open up to a bookmarked page. The butterflies rose momentarily in my stomach, then subsided as I watched her sit again. After four years, I still got a rush every time I looked at her. It was almost like my insides were burning, but it tickled. It always felt like it should hurt, but it always brought me such satisfaction and peace to know this woman was part of my life.

She leaned her head down onto her hand as she placed her elbow on the side of the table, propping herself up so she could read. I loved it when the stress got the better of her. She was always so frantic and so adorable, like she had no time in the world to do anything and as soon as more than two things piled up on her to-do list she started to stress out. I thought it was so cute because it reflected how much she cared about everything, not just her school work. She always wanted everything to be perfect, always wanted everyone to like her. I just wish she knew how much we all loved her.

“That may be as much your fault as it is mine,” I said consolingly. “Is this the first time you’ve left your house since Friday?”

While her panicked state did reflect a part of her personality I truly loved, sometimes I worried about her. She had a tendency to become hermit-like when things started to pile up on her, and it was tough to break her out of her shell.

“No. I worked both Saturday and yesterday, and Gabrielle’s parents decided to drop by for a surprise dinner with us last night and I had to cut out four hours of study time.”

I slid my hand across the table and interlocked my fingers with hers as she began to fumble through her notes, trying desperately to put them in order.

“Kaylee,” I said gently, “you’re fine. Midterms are still three weeks away.”

“I know, but we’re going to cover two more chapters in that amount of time, and if I don’t already have these three memorized I’m going to fail. And we have a mini quiz on chapters one and two on Thursday which was what I was going to do last night before –”

This was another personality trait I loved so much about her. When her frantic stage had reached its peak, she started to ramble. She couldn’t speak slowly, directly, or on point – all of her thoughts just seemed to come pouring out at once.

Final “Mix”

Kaylee snapped him out of his thoughts in a rush as she flew into the library, dropping her book bag breathlessly on the table and sitting diagonally from him. He pulled his headphones out of his ears, realizing then he had been lost in his own world.

“Hey,” she said, the waves of exhaustion evident in her voice as she pulled a psychology textbook from her bag and plopped it down. The weight of the book shook the table and he wondered for a moment how she managed to carry it around all day. “I thought I might find you here. I know we both have a lot of studying to do, and I haven’t seen you in a couple of days.”

A few blond strands hung loosely outside her ponytail, as if she had fallen asleep with her hair up and neglected to fix it when she woke. She gave him a quick kiss before returning to her chair to open up to a bookmarked page. The butterflies rose momentarily in his stomach, then subsided as he watched her sit again. After four years of being together, he still got a rush every time he looked at her. It felt like his insides were burning, yet the burn was met with a tickling sensation. It always felt like it should hurt, but it brought such satisfaction and peace to know this woman was part of his life.

She leaned her head down onto her hand as she placed her elbow on the side of the table, propping herself up so she could read. He loved it when the stress got the better of her. She was always so frantic and so adorable, like she had no time in the world to do anything and as soon as more than two things piled up on her to-do list she started to stress out. He thought it was so cute because it reflected how much she cared about everything, not just her school work. She always wanted everything to be perfect, wanted everyone to like her. He just wish she understood how much they all loved her.

“That may be as much your fault as it is mine,” he said consolingly. “Is this the first time you’ve left your house since Friday?”

While her panicked state did reflect a part of her personality he truly loved, sometimes he worried about her. She had a tendency to become hermit-like when things started to pile up on her, and it was tough to break her out of her shell.

“No. I worked both Saturday and yesterday, and Gabrielle’s parents decided to drop by for a surprise dinner with us last night and I had to cut out four hours of study time.”

He slid his hand across the table and interlocked his fingers with hers as she began to fumble through her notes, trying desperately to put them in order.

“Kaylee,” he said gently, “you’re fine. Midterms are still three weeks away.”

“I know, but we’re going to cover two more chapters in that amount of time, and if I don’t already have these three memorized I’m going to fail. And we have a mini quiz on chapters one and two on Thursday which was what I was going to do last night before –”

This was another personality trait he loved so much about her. When her frantic stage had reached its peak, she started to ramble. She couldn’t speak slowly, directly, or on point – all of her thoughts just seemed to come pouring out at once.

——————————————————————-

I encourage you to take one or two of your own scenes and try this exercise. You may surprise yourself.

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Twitter: @andrewjstillman

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