Breathe Life into your Manuscript

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by Anne Greene

During the writing of Masquerade Marriage, I thought I knew what being in deep point of view meant. I thought I wrote deep point of view. I knew I had to stay inside the character’s head. I lived inside the character’s skin. I showed nothing that the POV character couldn’t have seen. I showed only what the character saw, thought, and experienced in the moment.

But that was not enough.
Marriage by Arrangement
While writing Marriage By Arrangement, I dove even further into deep point of view, dipping both feet into that other important realm in writing – show, don’t tell.

I discovered that in Very Deep POV, no thought or action is told. Everything is shown. So I couldn’t use words like wished, hoped, thought, felt, caused, watched, knew, wondered, realized, speculated, decided, etc.

I couldn’t use wonderful verb phrases like happiness flashed through her, despair tugged at her, jealousy flattened her, love took her breath away.

I couldn’t write that she smiled with satisfaction, her skin prickled with fear, the explosion made her jump, the pollution caused her nose to itch, her heart beat fast with excitement.

No. Emotion by emotion, each has to be shown, not told. I’ll give just a few simple examples.

Which is better?

A – Happiness exploded inside her heart. Or…
B – She couldn’t keep a grin, almost the size of Texas, from her face. If her sneakers trod on the polished gym floor, she didn’t know it. Life couldn’t get any better. The word HAPPINESS is never used.

A – Despair ground into her heart. Or…
B – She wilted at her desk, then dropped her forehead to her folded arms. There just wasn’t any point. The word DESPAIR is never used.

A – Hot jealousy burned a hole in her heart. Or…
B – Her face burned all the way to her ears. She hid her head inside her Journalism book. If he could date someone else, maybe she needed to show him that she could too. The word JEALOUSY is never used.

A – Fury hit him like a locomotive at full speed. Or…
B – He slammed the door to her classroom behind him, tramped to where she sat, his shoes slapping the floor like bullets, and smacked a hand on her desk. This time, she wouldn’t get away with it. The word FURY is never used.

All the A sentences tell. All the B sentences show deep POV.
So, if you prefer the Bs to the As, never name the emotion. Let actions show the emotions. And add the thought inside the character’s head.

This type of Very Deep Point of View brings the book and characters to life.

Anne GreeneAnne Greene delights in writing about wounded heroes and gutsy heroines. Her second novel, a Scottish historical, Masquerade Marriage, won the New England Reader Choice award, the Laurel Wreath Award, and the Heart of Excellence Award. The sequel Marriage By Arrangement releases in December 6, 2013. A Texas Christmas Mystery also won several awards. She makes her home in McKinney, Texas. Visit for information on writing an award-winning novel.

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