As the managing editor of Smitten Historical Romance, I get to read a lot of manuscripts. One of the things I’m always looking for is deep point of view, or POV. This is the industry standard for romance today.
Lack of deep POV is one of the easiest ways to get your romance story culled from the pack. Romance needs to be emotional, and deep POV is the best way to accomplish that in the age of writing tighter than ever for our modern readers and their short attention spans.
Here are some quick and easy things you can look for to see if your writing is too shallow for today’s romance. Use the search feature in your writing program and look for the following red flags:
If you are deeply into your characters POV, you don’t need any of these. Here’s an example:
Shallow POV = “She saw the cat streak around the corner of the barn, the mangy hound hot on its heels.”
Deep POV = “The cat streaked around the corner of the barn, the mangy hound hot on its heels.”
Why? Because we’re seeing the action through the eyes of the POV character. The character wouldn’t think she saw, a narrator would add that. The character would just record what she saw.
Here’s an excerpt from my new release In Sheep’s Clothing, part of the Bouquet of Brides collection:
Movement near its door signaled that Tucker’s Fulling Mill was open for business. A tall man with golden hair stepped to a trestle table erected outside the door. He must be Mr. Peter Maltby, whose name had dominated the conversation after church. A ripple of excitement slid down the line. Any newcomer to the area drew attention, but a tradesman who eschewed the customary wig was something to set the town’s tongues wagging. Being young and single, he set them on fire.
Here’s how it might have read, if I’d added in the red flag words:
Movement near its door signaled that Tucker’s Fulling Mill was open for business. Yarrow saw a tall man with golden hair step to a trestle table erected outside the door. She thought he must be Mr. Peter Maltby, whose name had dominated the conversation after church. She felt the ripple of excitement slide down the line. Any newcomer to the area drew attention, she knew, but a tradesman who eschewed the customary wig was something to set the town’s tongues wagging. Being young and single, he set them on fire.
Occasionally, it’s fitting to leave one or two of these red flags in, but removing 95% of themis a quick fix that can mean the difference between a contract and life in the slush pile. When you write—especially when you’re in the editing process—make sure you’re seeing the story unfold from the eyes of your POV character. When you boil it right now, that’s all really deep POV is.
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