Shallow Point of View

Shallow POV is something I admit, I have struggled with. One of my readers on CC has been excellent at pointing out the areas where I slip into a shallow POV.

The problem, even after several examples, I still didn’t quite see it and struggled to fix it on my own.

Then today, I took a break from my book and my edits. Instead I wrote a short story about a goat at milking time. I wrote it in first person, present tense from the goat’s POV. I have never written anything in first person or present tense. It forced me to look at different ways of describing things. In fact, it’s probably the best writing exercise I have ever done.

During the writing of it, a light bulb went off and I finally got it. I am feeling a ridiculous amount elation over this. Most people outside of the writing world would probably think it’s silly to be so happy over something so small.

Except it isn’t small. It’s a difference in depth. It’s about how much the writer can immerse the reader in the story. A difference between being told what the character is feeling and feeling what the character is feeling. A difference in being told what the character sees, and seeing it through the characters eyes.

I’m not claiming I have perfected it in one day. But I can see it now in my own work and I can see how to fix it. I rewrote the opening of one of my chapters because of it. In the first few paragraphs of that chapter, I told the reader how the character felt and why. Now, you know what he feels and why because you are in his head with him. And that is where I want my readers. I don’t want them to be told it’s hot and dusty and the character is thirsty. I want them standing right next to my characters. I want them to feel the heat of the sun, to taste the grit of wind blown dust in their mouth and feel the burning of a dry throat.

I think taking the time to write outside of our familiar territory is a great exercise. Who knows what little light bulb moments you can find while struggling to convey a story in an unfamiliar tense or POV.

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