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Deep-third person is POV magic

June 10, 2023
Posted by:
Ron Seybold

Making your storytelling invisible and powerful is not easy. Not all at once, anyway. You can be invisible, but there's no power. Academic writing walks that tightrope. You can be powerful but not invisible. That's the realm of melodrama.

To be both these things at once in fiction, try the deep-third point of view. Third person gives a reader access to emotions and sensations from a character, but the character isn't the storyteller. You can even have many characters' feelings on display. (Try to avoid sampling too many right next to each other. We get confused.)

Deep-third takes out the barrier words and filter phrases to place readers right in the lap of the character. Readers are pretty sharp, and authors do better when we trust their abilities. Fiction editor Beth Hill says that if the filters get dropped, "the reader knows automatically that what is being reported are the thoughts and feelings and the intentions of the viewpoint character."

No more "she thought." No more "he watched her." No more "she said to herself."

Get a list of filter words and start stepping into deep-third. Watch your storytelling spring to life. Or, in the deep-third style, "Your storytelling springs to life." No watching.

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