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Kathryn Purdie on Writing With a Deep Point of View

By April 17, 2019 June 22nd, 2019 No Comments

Welcome Writers, to the third article on our experience at Teen Author Boot Camp 2019. This weeks article is based on the wonderful author Kathryn Purdie, writer of Burning Glass, Crystal Blade, and Frozen Reign. At the conference she gave a very informative lesson on writing with a deep POV (Point of View). If you don’t know what deep POV is then you’re not alone, because we didn’t know at first either. But after she explained it a bit and we got into the lecture, we learned. Deep POV is like ultra first person, where every line from the book is a line from whatever the characters thinking, doing, or saying. This can be restrictive, but if used right you can really get your audience close to your stories action and characters, and that’s what we, and Kathryn Purdie, are here to teach you.

In deep POV it is will be good to practice conveying emotions without just going, “I was sad because he broke up with me.”, but instead. “My heart dropped and shattered into a million spectacles of what had once been, and had now been lost.” A little dramatic of an example, but it gets across the point. But also don’t start with the highest variety of emotion, instead work your way up to the worst emotion, or best emotion so don’t start with Timmy dropping his toy and then his heart shattering, that is hard to top. These descriptions of emotions help your reader get closer to the character, cause they can understand their emotions more deeply, more than they could in other POVs. Kathryn said that your reader should be close enough with your character that they feel as if they are character, essentially sucking them into the story.

Despite this article being strictly about deep POV, we feel the need to mention that this type of writing doesn’t always fit everyone’s style. The 2 main types of POVs, other than deep, is first and third. In first person your characters story is told through I’s and wes, while third person is told through hes, shes, and theys. Both of these perspectives have their own benefits, which we will go into on a later day, but the point is that you should test all of these out through shorter projects, or if you want to try and write a novel to practice it, we’re not going to stop you. Every writer has their own voice or style, and we want you to cultivate that, if you find that you’re better and first person than third person than go for it, but also don’t be afraid to branch out every so often.

Kathryn Purdie supplied us with a pros and cons list on writing with a deep POV to help you decide even more on if you want to go down this route.

Pros:

  • It’s more personal for the reader
  • It encourages a strong narrative and voice
  • Involves more showing than telling which is almost always a good thing

Cons:

  • Limited to only one character’s perspective
  • More pressure is placed on good characterization
  • Can often be more wordier, which can lead to confusion

If you don’t know the concept of showing vs telling, then here’s a quick briefer, rather than telling the reader that something is someway, like, “Down in The Harverians we were not allowed to cut down trees.” to instead show them through an action like, “I watched as they carried off yet another screaming prisoner, I looked out towards the woods, and sure enough a tree had been felled.” Man we are killing it with these examples (*high-fives self*). But anyways there are times when telling is encouraged over showing. These include passages of time, to pick up the pace of a lower tension moment, and for clarity on something that may have been unclear. But often showing is more interesting, and fun to write, at least to us. Kathryn told us that telling summarizes and showing dramatizes. telling is naming an emotion, sense or action. And to the surprise of a few in the lecture, she told us that dialogue is the purest way of showing, so don’t count dialogue off, it’s important (this also includes internal dialogues).

The closeness with the main character that deep POV provides is very important in very emotional scenes, such as the darkest moment, the moment where everything feels like its falling apart and then something happens and the good things happen again. Yay! But for this closeness you have to dive into your character and understand everything about them. Your character has to have objectives, both external and internal (what they say they want, and what they really want). What is your characters backstory, what happened to create the protagonist that now stands before the entrance of your first chapter? Do they harbor a secret, something haunting them from the past or maybe something small like a hidden crush on someone. What does your character fear the most in the world, the loss of a loved one, spiders, the end of the world, spiders, maybe their own demise, or spiders, but it’s up to you. Boo! Spiders! Find your characters voice, often it will be very close to yours but some adjustments must be made, one funny thing we do is try to imitate our characters in real life to find out what or how they might say something. Voice is important because that is a key component of how you get a reader to become close with your character. Find out how the backstory you set up affects your characters voice. Find your characters personality, are they jokey, bubbly, prideful, maybe depressed, find out what fits best to your story and to your liking. What is the characters main focus, what are they so set on doing that everything else seems to fall away, that Big Hero 6 scene where the main character is overcome with anger and can only focus on getting the bad guy is a great example of this.

Limit author intrusions into a story, where you pop in for a second to mention something else somewhere that is (hopefully) important to the story, but it still jerks your reader out of the story for a bit, so make sure to remain on course of the characters point of view for most of the journey. Set boundaries on filter-words, words that you don’t really need and can be removed, there are many of lists out there that you can find just by googling ‘filter words’. Kathryn told us that we shouldn’t overuse dialogue tags in conversations between characters, she said to use dialogue tags mostly for clarification on actions or tones. We’ve heard in some places as well that ‘said’ is an invisible tag, that the reader just passes over, but sometimes you can just let the conversation run clear without tags, but be sure to establish a pattern throughout it.

In some stories authors make the mistake of making their character suddenly knowledgeable on things they shouldn’t be. Be sure to show that your character is experiencing and learning everything along the way, just like your reader. Also in deep POV it doesn’t make sense for a character who knows stuff to be going over it again in his head, that information wouldn’t cross their mind because they already know it. This is the reason for lots of characters being, what are called newbie characters. Newbie characters are the people who had no idea about the world in which your story is taking place, they are very good for questions that the reader might be asking. One example of this could be Harry Potter, where he didn’t know about the wizarding world, but then he was suddenly sucked into it, just like the reader (for clarification Harry Potter is not in deep POV, but it’s still a good example). Also your character can’t see their face, they can feel their face moving around to make expressions, but they cannot see them without some kind of reflective object. Kathryn Purdie said that a character can’t see that they are blushing, but they can feel the blood flowing to their cheeks.

Kathryn also gave a warning about passive voice in writing, passive voice is where the character is reacting to whatever is happening around them rather than effecting what’s happening around them, that is active voice (what you want). Some signs of passive voice are be verbs, or words like am, are, is, was, were, been and being. If you find any of these words examine it more closely and find if your character needs to be more active. Also look out for vague pronouns, like, it, there or this. These pronouns need to be clarified to allow the reader to understand what is happening more fully.

And to finish off she said to not go to deep into the point of view, go deep enough for a connection, but going much deeper is not required.

Alright Writers do hope you enjoyed this article inspired by the notes we took at Teen Author Boot Camp 2019. Go to the links down below to find Kathryn Purdie and buy some of her books.

Click here to go to her website.

Click here to go to her Amazon page.