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Deep Point of View

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Deep Point of View is a highly immersive technique that seeks to remove the Narrator layer altogether from the book. It frames its narrative according to the Viewpoint Character’s worldview and how they perceive and interpret objects, people, and situations. Thus, it also refrains from author intrusion and rhetorical pontificating.

In short, when writing in Deep Point of View, you write as the character, not about them.

This technique instills the Reader in the Viewpoint Character’s mind and thereby allows Characterization to shine bright. It embodies the “Show, don’t tell” adage so prominent in writers’ circles.

Title graphic: Deep Point of View, Point of View & Perspective,

A Still-emerging Style

If I were writing this blog series twenty years from now, I’d likely include Deep Point of View alongside the Narration Types (Objective, Observational, Omniscient, etc.) instead of among the Narrative Styles and Techniques. To my knowledge, though, the definitive Deep POV novel has yet to be written (or yet to be universally recognized, if it’s already out in the world). You’ll find many articles and forum discussions about it online, but with quibbles over what it actually constitutes, whether certain books qualify, and what even to call it.

Subjective POV, Immersive POV, Intimate Third Person, Close Third Person, Close Limited Omniscient. Some claim these are different; some use the terms interchangeably. They all describe essentially the same technique. Many tie it exclusively to Third Person.

And sometimes, they then include First Person novels among their examples. (Yes, really.)

Boiled down, the principles of Deep POV can apply to any narrative Person. Certainly there exist First Person novels that are not Deep in their style but others that are. Ergo, it is not exclusive to Third Person, despite how anyone might label it.

A Formula for Immersion

Deep Point of View combines several narrative techniques to achieve its Reader immersion. From diction and sentence mechanics to overarching themes and rhetoric, this method infuses every layer of language in a work.

To that end, I offer the following guidelines for creating Deep POV.

Tie the narrative to one single character. Absolutely no head-hopping allowed. This is Limited Omniscience taken to its extreme. The Viewpoint Character is the only lens for the story events.

Eliminate filter verbs. I’ve already written at length how to identify this pesky verb type. Filter verbs create a narrative layer between the Reader and the Action and thus have no place in Deep POV. (Except in dialogue, of course. Anything goes there.)

Remove dialogue tags. Craft your dialogue so that it can stand alone, or with action tags rather than “he said/she said” attributions.

Strip away narrative markers. This includes rhetorical phrases or anything that would create an Observational narrator. The Deep POV Narrator, regardless of Person, is living their story life, incognizant of an Audience hanging upon their every word.

Use Free Indirect Speech. Incorporate the Viewpoint Character’s thoughts and reactions directly into the narrative.

Prioritize Active Voice. As with filter verbs, I’ve already written about identifying and eliminating passive voice. Active voice keeps the narrative lean and direct, focusing on the Agents who act, not the Objects being acted upon.

Avoid naming character emotions. Describe these instead through bodily responses or evocative metaphors, showing rather than telling how the Viewpoint Character feels.

Frame details according to the Viewpoint Character’s worldview/understanding. Metaphors and idioms should fit their outlook on life. E.g., if they’ve grown up along the rural shore, they’ll more likely use water-fish-sailing types of metaphors rather than desert-heat-lizard types or city-people-traffic types. Environment, family situation, wealth/poverty, social status, etc. will all factor into how they interpret the world.

Refrain from author intrusion. No moralizing, no world-building explanations, no rhetorical you-insertions or thematic observations. If the Viewpoint Character would not originate the thought, it does not appear in the final draft.

Some Unexpected Pitfalls

This technique requires a lot of labor-intensive drafting and editing. You’re not going to spit out perfect Deep Point of View on your first attempt. And because it’s so embedded in a Character’s psyche, it can become one-note or over-wrought, easily relying on too many similar body movements to show emotions or else slipping into long blocks of character introspection that make the narrative drag.

Thus, its “Show, don’t tell” quality can be as much a weakness as a strength.

The most surprising weakness of Deep Point of View, though? If it’s not executed correctly, it manifests as Objective Narration instead.

Although these two styles seem like exact opposites, they inhabit the same iceberg, sharing as many traits as they have differences. Both eliminate filter verbs and dialogue tags, both avoid narrative markers and refrain from telling character emotions or adding authorial commentary.

Thus, if you don’t include Free Indirect Speech or frame details according to your Characters’ worldview, congratulations! You’ve written Objective Narration by accident!


A Venn diagram of Deep POV vs. Objective Narration. The Deep POV circle lists the features “free indirect speech, details framed according to Viewpoint Character's background + worldview"; the Objective Narration circle lists the features, "No narrative introspection, 'fly on the wall' details only”; the overlap of both circles lists the features, “refrain from author intrusion; eliminate filter verbs, dialogue tags, and other narrative markers; avoid 'telling' emotions"

That these two styles share so many features makes sense, though. After all, in Hemingway’s Iceberg Theory, the deeper considerations exist. The Author simply chooses not to include them in the story itself. Deep Point of View rejects this premise and dives down to explore those hidden layers.

And a small confession

If you’ve made it this far, you might perhaps be thinking, “But Kate, where are the example texts?” Long story short, I have none to offer you. Many people talking about this technique use their own work as their teaching model, which is a practice that triggers my instinctive skepticism. (Sorry.) Others give didactic examples rather than literary excerpts. I won’t parrot their content, and I can’t be bothered to create my own for an article that’s already too long. (Again, sorry.)

Therefore, if you want more specific information and examples on this technique, I encourage you to search “Deep POV writing” and peruse the plethora of listings that explore it in greater detail.


Because of its labor-intensive nature, this technique might function best in smaller doses alongside a book’s broader Point of View. It becomes especially potent in pivotal scenes, where you want your Reader hyper-focused on the unfolding revelations your characters experience. 

It’s not the correct choice for every book, but when executed well, it can be a fantastic feature of your story.

  • Have you encountered Deep POV in the wild? What examples would you recommend?
  • How might this technique enhance a narrative? How might it detract?

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Index Page: Point of View