Wednesday, July 3, 2019

For Writers: Still Digging Deep, Solving the Mystery of Deep Point of View—Part Two

by Sarah Sally Hamer @SarahSallyHamer

Last month, we talked about how deep POV isn’t really a mystery, it’s one of many techniques to create your characters all the way “to the bone,” where their emotions live. It’s a way to drag your audience along on that journey. And, it’s a way to allow your characters to tell their stories. 

We worked with dialogue and body language last month. Today, we’ll add two more layers to the characters we’ve already started creating: 1) Character Goal, 2) and Character Motivation.

First, we used the example of a soon-to-be divorced wife—we’ll call her Belinda—whose almost-ex brought his new girlfriend to divorce court. Both what Belinda said AND her body language told us a lot about her deep emotions. But what lies under that anger and frustration? Goal and motivation. 

Remember, Belinda will have had other goals in her life – to get married, to have a family, to live happily forever-after – goals that now are broken dreams. She’ll barely be able to look at her ex because she’s so angry that he’s not the person she thought she had married. So, what if her current goal is to just get through the day? She woke up, dreading every second of the divorce proceedings she’s facing, but told herself over and over again she could do it. Her motivation is that she doesn’t want to make a fool of herself by reacting. She wants this process to be civilized and straight-forward and relatively easy. 

Then, she sees the new girlfriend snuggling up to HER husband! CONFLICT!! TENSION! Oh, sorry, I’m yelling at you. JBut the audience, knowing all these things are going on in her head, would expect her to react – violently!—to the sight. IF SHE DOESN’T, we’re not going to believe that she is real. Real people react. Real people get mad. Real people fall apart and get restrained by the bailiff. If she doesn’t, we writers have to create an excellent reason for her not to. 

Deep point of view is simply allowing a character to respond in a manner the audience recognizes. We have expectations and know how we would react. So, deep POV is letting us get that close to a character too.

Susan, our other heroine, has just lost her child and is at the visitation. Remember, she’s pale and withdrawn and doesn’t show any emotion until she gets by herself. Her goal is to not allow herself to feel, to not be THAT person who weeps all over the coffin. Why? Because it would embarrass her family – a somewhat cruel motivation—but a believable one. Will her family still support her if she breaks down? But, even though she follows the “proper protocol” her family demands, she can’t keep herself from her intense grief when she’s alone.

Our writer’s arsenal allows us to see our characters all the way “to the bone,” using layer after layer of emotion and reaction. Our weapons help us to express those characters by simply letting them “be themselves,” even though you created them.

Take the paragraph about your own character you wrote last month and add Goal and Motivation to it. Maybe some of the body language or dialogue will change, once you add a goal and the motivation behind it. I’ll be glad to look at it! 


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I wish to express gratitude to the giants whose shoulders I stand on and who taught me so much about the writing craft. I would list every one, if it were only possible.

Sarah (Sally) Hamer is a lover of books, a teacher of writers, and a believer in a good story. Most of all, she is eternally fascinated by people and how they 'tick'. She’s passionate about helping people tell their own stories, whether through fiction or through memoir. Writing in many genres - mystery, science fiction, fantasy, romance, medieval history, non-fiction – she has won awards at both local and national levels, including two Golden Heart finals.

A teacher of memoir, beginning and advanced creative fiction writing, and screenwriting at Louisiana State University in Shreveport for over sixteen years, she also teaches online for Margie Lawson at Sally is a free-lance editor and book coach at Touch Not the Cat Books, with many of her students and clients becoming successful, award-winning authors. 

You can find her at hamerse@bellsouth.netor


  1. Sally, you introduced something new to me. Not the GMC, I've used it for years. But a scene GM that is immediate and for this scene only - that's something I hadn't thought about. I may have done it, but to consciously think about that when starting to write the scene - well, I sure will now. Great post!

  2. Good for you! Yes, that GMC of a scene is almost as important as the character one.

    :) Glad I could help!