This might be a new one for you, and I really don’t mean to throw you a curve. It seems that just like fashion and hairstyles, Grammatical Forms of Point of View actually have trends. That’s right. For the fiction writer, and especially the not-yet-published author who is trying to get the attention of an agent or editor, staying current is critical. Hey, I really don’t care if you’re keeping up with your Glamour Dos and Don’ts, but staying hip to the accepted and preferred forms of writing is critical to your success as a writer.
As we covered in a previous lesson, Third Person is still the most popular Grammatical Form. When it comes to writing in Third Person, there are two levels, Distant and Deep (the latter is currently considered more desirable in most genres, but we’ll get to that in a minute). Let’s take a closer look at each:
a. The reader stays outside the POV character’s head.
b. Perceptions are reported as observations rather than as experiences.
Simple enough, right? Here’s an example:
Claire ran down the driveway. She thought she could hear a car coming, but as she skidded to a halt at the edge of the sidewalk, she saw nothing. She wondered if she was crazy.
She realized then that Ken wasn’t coming tonight. With a sigh, she admitted to herself that he might not be coming at all.
Can you see how we’re in Claire’s Point of View, but we’re still outside her head? Let’s check out the alternative.
Deep – can only be from Singular or Multiple Third Person.
- It infuses Third Person with the intimacy of First Person.
- It does away with dialogue tags and verbs such as “see”, “notice”, “understand”, “feel”, “realize” and “think”, which suggest telling as opposed to showing.
- Lucky you if you like writing in Deep Third, because it’s currently the most popular form of Third Person writing.
Remember our example above? Well, here’s the same passage rewritten in Deep Third:
Claire picked up her pace as the distinct hum of a motor sounded in her ears. She skidded to a halt at the edge of the sidewalk. Nothing. Was she crazy?
Ken isn’t coming tonight. It hit her like a rock. He might not be coming at all.
Can you see the difference between the two examples? In the second, we’re still in third person, but we’re more inside Claire’s head.
Here are some books written in Third Person:
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White (omniscient)
The Firm by John Grisham
Violet Dawn by Brandilyn Collins (deep)
Now that you’re a veritable expert in writing in Third Person, go ahead and rewrite the passage you wrote last time, changing it to either distant or deep third. Let me know if you have any questions.