Sherry A. Soule. 2016. The Writer’s Guide to Deep POV: Create Realistic Characters, Settings, and Descriptions. Sacramento: FWT.
Review by Stephen W. Hiemstra
One of my goals for 2017 is to upgrade the quality of my writing. While I primarily write nonfiction, even nonfiction Christian writing includes significant storytelling and memoir is sometimes described as narrative nonfiction, both of which suggest that the line between fiction and nonfiction writing blurs more than occasionally. An important challenge in traversing the fiction and nonfiction boundary is learning to show rather than tell emotions, descriptions, and character development, which is often described as deep point of view (or just deep POV) writing.
In her new book, The Writer’s Guide to Deep POV, Sherry Soule writes:
“Deep POV is just describing everything that your character is feeling, observing, and identifying, along with whatever they’re seeing, hearing, touching, and smelling…” (4)
The point of deep POV is to remove the narrator and reduce narrative distance to bring the reader closer to the actual experience of the characters (8). She offers four tips in implementing deep POV:
- “Writers should try to reduce as many filtering references as they can from their writing. Words such as felt, saw, heard, smelled, and notices…
- Naming the emotion can become a bad habit….
- Be more specific when describing places, settings, people, clothing, objects, cars, etc. so you don’t create a weak visual…
- One way to rid your fiction of shallow writing is to use the ‘look through the camera lens’ method…[so that everything] is perceived through that POV.” (10-11)
While she admits that there are times when telling can pick up the pace in your writing, anytime that you can rewrite to show rather than tell you should do it. (12) Deep POV offers: “the reader direct access to the character’s moods, emotions, and perceptions.” (13) Showing the character’s reactions and views is what Soule sees as revealing a character’s true voice. (49) For the author, deep POV is the focus of revision work.
At its core, The Writer’s Guide to Deep POV is a how-to book inventorying the different ways that deep POV can be used and illustrating its use in paired examples. Typically, Soule offers a SHALLOW example of a paragraph or series of paragraphs followed by a DEEP POV example of the same material. These DEEP POV examples are taken from her own published work, while the SHALLOW examples are presumably taken from an earlier draft. While this method may be tedious to read, it offers the aspiring author a cookbook of examples to study when writing in any part of the inventory covered.
For example, in her chapter on fatigue, Soule writes:
“When your character is tired or fatigued, I would show the character’s mental and physical exhaustion through Deeper POV. I realize that it is much simpler to just state that a character is drowsy or that a character looks exhausted, but I think it is much more fun to show the reader instead—don’t you?” (107)
Some of the “physical signs of exhaustion” she lists are: “loud yawning, heaving eyelids, droopy eyelids, weakness in limbs, cannot concentrate…” (108)
After this, one of her examples for fatigue was:
“SHALLOW: Dan looked sleepy and he fell asleep in class. He started snoring loudly. The teacher got mad and woke him up.
DEEP POV: Dan’s breathing slowed and his eyelids grew heavy. He rested his head on the desk and his eye’s closed. He must’ve been snoring, because the teacher shook him awake.” (109)
After such short examples of SHALLOW and DEEP POV writing, Soule often offers more lengthy examples running for several paragraphs. Much of her book consists of roughly 30 short chapters of 5-6 pages each taking this basic format of explanation, physical signs, and shallow/Deep POV examples. The inventory covers description, character development, emotions, and other places where an experienced writer should employ deep POV.
Sherry Soule describes herself as a bestselling author, editor, publisher, and writing coach, where her fiction writing focuses on urban fantasy, romantic suspense, and paranormal romance. Her book, The Writer’s Guide to Deep POV, is one of seven books in a nonfiction series entitled: Fiction Writing Tools. Judging from this volume, the rest of the series is certainly worth a look.
 @SherrySoule, http://sherrysoule.blogspot.com.