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Writing Filters to Use: The Bigger Picture Part 2

Here is the second part to Writing Filters to Use: The Bigger Picture. This part goes over dialogue, scenes, and point of view.


Questions to ask…

  • Did the words seem natural to the characters and fit their personality?
  • Was there too much or not enough dialogue? It’s okay to tell the reader some of the thoughts of the thoughts of the main character, but we should only know the thoughts of other characters through their words and actions, i.e. did the writer show us the story or did he tell it to us?
  • Whose story is it?
  • If dialect is used, is it used effectively and appropriately?
  • Were there enough/too many beats in the dialogue?
  • Was the dialogue used to move the plot forward or as a weal way of cramming back story?
  • Does dialogue advance the story?
  • Is dialogue appropriate to the scene?
  • Does dialogue increase conflict?

Things that can be done to enhance Dialogue…

  • Ensure that characters sound sufficiently different
  • Make sure it is dialogue and not conversation
  • Use genre-appropriate dialogue tags
  • Keep adverbs in dialogue tags to a minimum, unless genre allows them (use he said, she said’s )


Things that can be done to enhance Scenes …

  • Make sure there are a sufficient number of scenes
  • Make sure individual scenes satisfy and that they are different in terms of action events, character combinations, dialogue patterns, and type of conflict
  • Give scenes variety in length, format, depth, and pattern
  • Use a variety of settings for scenes (or play against variety and stick to only a few settings)
  • Make sure scenes are in the best order to cause problems for the character and induce tension in the reader
  • Make sure the right scenes are dramatized and the right scenes are summarized

Point of View

Questions to ask…

  • Story view point (first, second, third limited, omniscient)
  • Is it the right POV for the story and for the scene; would another be better?
  • Is POV clear?
  • Is POV maintained within scenes?
  • Character view point
  • Who should be the viewpoint character in each scene?
  • Is the story in the right character’s POV? Would another character work better?
  • If the story is in multiple characters POV, should it be changed to just one character?
  • If the story is in one character’s POV, would the story work better in multiple characters POV?

Things that can be done to enhance POV

  • Make sure that viewpoint character doesn’t change within scenes (no head-hopping)
  • Make sure viewpoint character knows only what he could really know
  • Use a change in POV or viewpoint character to bring story and character closer to the reader or to hold the reader at a distance when necessary

The final and third part of this series goes more into structure of the story.

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What is Deep Third or Deep POV?

You may have heard the term Deep Third or Deep Point Of View, but what does it really mean?

“Deep POV is to the writer what method acting is to the actor. It requires the writer to submerge herself in the character from whose point of view a scene is being seen. It requires a casting off of all inhibitions. The writer becomes the character.” (Exert from an article by Maeve Maddox at

Deep Third is writing in the Third Person but taking it further by slowing down time and showing the reader what’s going on from the character’s point of view. It uses the surroundings, thoughts, feelings, or anything else to steep the reader with what’s going on in the characters head. Sensory detail (the use of sight, sound, smell, touch, and taste) can play a role in this as well. But it’s the thought process of the character that the reader needs to be plugged into. It’s about giving the reader an opportunity to “step into” the character’s head and be the character without even realizing it (if the Deep POV is done right).

“What makes a point of view “deep” is how “close” we are to the viewpoint character’s thoughts.” (Exert from a blog by Jordon Mccullum) 

The closer a writer can get to the character the more deep the point of view will be. In fact, it can take the reader from watching the character walk across the street to the reader actually feeling like they are the one crossing the street.


Third Person: 
It was a rainy morning as Janelle reached the cross walk with umbrella in hand. She waited for a lull in the traffic and walked across the busy street, not bothering to wait for the Don’t Walk sign to change. Janelle raced to the other sidewalk determined not to be late for work again.

“Get out of the road!” a driver yell as he honked the horn of black sedan, spraying mud in all directions.

Janelle stumbled to a stop almost losing her balance on the slick asphalt. Mud soaked her slacks, coat, and even her face. She groaned as she continued to the sidewalk. Janelle spat onto the ground to get the taste of dirt out of her mouth. She looked up to see a young mother pushing a stroller, giving Janelle an astonished look.

Deep Third:
A light drizzle splattered on her open umbrella as Janelle reached the cross walk. A Don’t Walk sign flashed a harsh warning. Janelle gave her watch a nervous glance. The digital numbers declared it 8:57. Late again. Mr. Roberts would be furious. She’d been making it a habit of being late for work, because of Sophie’s appetite for trouble. That damn dog! She should have known better than to take on a new puppy right now. It would probably cost her that promotion she’d had her eye on. Janelle could already feel the heat of Mr. Mr. Robert’s wrath, sending a shiver through her despite the heavy wool coat. Robert’s wrath, sending a shiver through her despite the heavy wool coat.

Janelle peered through the mist to the sidewalk across the street. She still had three minutes. Janelle noticed a lull in the busy traffic. What the hell! She might make it if she hustled. Her building was less than a block away. Janelle sucked in her breath and stepped onto the slick asphalt, ignoring the orange words that blinked in silent rebuke. The thick musk of motor oil filled her nostrils as she raced forward.

 A jolt of excitement coursed through her realizing she just might make it. The sidewalk was only a handful of steps away! A blaring horn shattered her short-lived enthusiasm. Janelle skidded to a stop only to slip in the oily blacktop. She just managed to catch her balance and jump out of the way as a black beast thundered past.

“Get out of the road!” a man’s voice screamed, matching the pitch of a bellowing horn.

Black mud spurted into the air and rained down on her. She could feel the liquid goo on her face and in her mouth. She looked down to find her gray slacks and coat covered. Just great! Her new outfit was ruined. Janelle shot a heated glare at the taillights of the speeding sedan. Jerk!

 She continued her interrupted dash to the sidewalk with a hurried limp, the bitter tang of dirt choking her. Ugh! At last, she reached the safety of the sidewalk and spat onto the concrete to expel the foulness from her mouth. Janelle looked up to meet the astonished look of a young mother with a stroller. Yeah, this was shaping up to be one hell of a day.

As you can see, writing in deep third increases the word count, but the picture in the reader’s head is much clearer because of it. Even though deep third is a wonderful tool, a story shouldn’t be written completely this way because it does slow down the momentum of the story. A sprinkle of deep third in just the right places should be enough to get the job done, so sprinkle away!

Want to write in Deep Third yourself? Try this exercise. Write a scene in First Person and then change all the nouns and pronouns to Third Person.