DOs and DON'Ts of Deep POV

Updated: Apr 16, 2019

What deep POV is

Deep POV (Point of View) has been increasing in publishing for the last 20 years or so, and it’s getting more popular every year. Sometimes it’s also called tight or close POV. If you’ve ever gotten feedback from an editor or agent, chances are they said something about deep POV. But it’s a tricky concept for many writers. I’ll admit, it took me a while to wrap my head around it. So just what the heck even is deep POV, and why does it matter?

A quick reminder

There are three basic POVs:

First person: uses “I” to refer to the main character and is limited, i.e., the narrator can’t disclose anything the main character doesn’t know. So other characters’ thoughts and feelings and events that happen outside the POV character’s presence are out.

Second person: uses “you,” as in “You head down the shadowy hallway and see a dim light at the other end.” This one is also limited, but it’s barely used, as it’s really hard to do well and even harder to read.

Third person: uses the main character’s name or “he/she.” Can be limited or omniscient—omniscient means the narrator knows everything everyone is doing, thinking, and feeling at all times.

Since second person is so rarely used, I’m just going to talk about first and third person here.

Deep POV refers to that limited perspective, and it can be used in any limited POV. But it takes it a step further than traditional limited viewpoint. Deep POV seeks to mimic the way we perceive situations in real life. With a deep POV, the narrator only tells things that the POV character is consciously aware of.

Here’s an example:

Traditional limited: Sharon heard the bell ring and wondered what caused it.

Deep POV: A bell rang. What was going on?