Writers in the Storm

A blog about writing

storm moving across a field
February 28, 2024

How To Remove The Author Voice For Deep Point Of View

by Lisa Hall-Wilson

voice pattern

In deep point of view, the goal is to immerse the reader in the character’s lived experience of the story journey. The reader isn’t being told a story by an author about one, or many, characters. Rather, the character is living out this story in real time with the reader in their head the whole time.

If story is a car and the point of view character is the driver, the reader isn’t in a helicopter above the action where they can see everything (omniscient POV), nor are they in the backseat of the car with the author riding shotgun (third person POV). Even first person or limited third person keep the author in an ear piece when they’re riding shotgun. Deep POV puts the reader in the lap of the driver and the author/narrator isn’t even in the car.

Arguably, the biggest tool in the writer’s toolbox is the author’s or narrator’s voice. We want to remove it as much as possible in deep POV, and to do that we have to recognize it. And then we have to know what to replace it with.

What Is The Author Or Narrator Voice?

The author or narrator voice is the storyteller. In third person (even limited or close third person), the author is telling a story about a character. The reader may get some dialogue or thoughts from the character directly, but the author is telling the story. In first person, you can have either a narrator voice, or have the main character narrate their own story.

Deep POV is different. Those writing in limited third person will have learned to put some limits on the author voice, but that voice is still telling the story. The author voice often uses a lot of telling, which in acceptable in varying degrees depending on the point of view style you’re using.

The function of the author voice is to:

  • Summarize
  • Explain
  • Justify

If we can begin to catch where this outside-to-the-story voice sneaks in to give the reader information, we have a great first step to immersing readers IN the story.

How The Author Voice Summarizes

We’re all writers, I’m not going to define summary. However, this is an important tool in storytelling because it allows us to make sure the reader “gets it” and follows the story with an economy of words. This could include time gaps. Three weeks later, Tom sat at his desk again after vacation.

It could be summarizing a setting, or summarizing what it is about the setting the character is noticing. Tom noticed the hole in the wall immediately.

The house looked tired with its broken windows and crooked shutters.

Tom walked through the house, the modern organic aesthetic doing its best to create peace and serenity.

Do you see how a voice outside the story (ie. Not the POV character) is summarizing what the character sees, perceives, thinks, feels, etc? Often, for those who have learned to practice showing, what happens is they begin showing AND telling. In deep POV, we’d strive to remove the author voice so that the information comes to the reader raw, without explanation.


Tom slid his gym bag under his desk and reached for the stack of mail. He sifted through the envelopes. Three weeks and no job offer.

Tom kicked off his shoes and groped in the dark for the switch. His fingers dipped inside a hole in the drywall, about the size of fist.

Tom stared at the broken glass in the windows, the last shutter hanging from one hinge, the blistered paint, and the sag to the front porch.

Tom followed Ann through the living room. He trailed a finger across a macrame pillow and a thick knit blanket thrown over the sofa arm. No bright colours, no clutter, everything in the room begged to be touched or invited him to forget the rest of the world just for a while.

I hope from these brief examples you can see the difference. In deep pov, every word on the page has to come from the character. A good place to start is limiting yourself to only what the character can see, hear, touch, know, learn, etc. But more than that, deep POV aims to capture the lived experience of the character.

How The Author Voice Explains

It’s easy to reach for the author voice to explain how a character feels, why they’re doing something (or not doing something), contextualize a setting or provide backstory. Watch for anywhere a voice external to the point of view character enters the story. To be clear, using the author voice, using explanation isn’t wrong, but if the goal is to write in deep point of view, we want the reader to discover or learn this information as the character does. If the character already knows the information, we need to give them a reason to think of that detail.

With Author Voice:

There’s Tom, Cindy’s third husband.

In Deep POV:

“Is that Pete?”

“No, that’s Tom. Cindy’s third husband.”

With Author Voice:

It just wasn’t that easy for someone with his past.

In Deep POV:

He pressed the heels of his hands against his eyes, the gaping ache in his chest threatening to swallow him whole. “It’s not that easy!”

With Author Voice:

Tom kicked the can down the street pretending to score the game-winning goal instead of tripping in front of the net like at last night’s game. Macy and her friends pointed at him from the swings, laughing. He was such a loser.

In Deep POV:

Tom timed his steps. He swung like he held a hockey stick while he kicked the can farther down the road, his bag dropping from his shoulder to hang from his elbow. The roar of a crowd cheers the game-winning goal in his mind. He lifts his hands in victory. Girl-voices reached him from the swings. Macy and her giggle friends pointed at him, laughing. He lowered his arms and shoved his hands so deep in his pockets he might reach his knees. Perfect.

With Author Voice:

The Black Forest was known for its gnarled trees, bogs, and unpredictable pits. “It’s not a nice place.” Edric couldn’t suppress the body shiver that rattled his spine.

This is where the author voice gets sneaky, right. There’s explanation here that does not come from the POV character (Edric) in this sentence. This might just be labelled as “telling” by an editor, but it’s the author voice explaining WHY Edric is uneasy. Also, if you look at the rewrite, do you see how the author voice describes the setting one way, but when forced to put the explanation into the character’s voice, the word choices is more reflective of who that character is, his mood, priorities, etc.

In Deep POV:

Edric couldn’t suppress the body shiver that rattled his spine.

Arah leaned her shoulder into his. “What’s wrong?”

“Place is full of diseased trees, bogs, and sink holes. It’s not a nice place.”

How The Author Voice Justifies

This one can be tricky and stealthy. Most writers pick up on the summary and explanation with a bit of practice, but this one can be hard to spot. Often the author voice creeps in here to provide the reason “why” for the reader. Two words I like to watch for “made” and “because,” as a starting place.

The smell of hot biscuits made Tom want to call his mom.

Tom loved Becky because she was smart.

I mean, these are super obvious, right. But can you parse out how the author voice is justifying here?

Part of why it’s sneaky to see the justification is because often it flows easier when you use your own voice. It’s harder to write every word from the POV character’s perspective.  

What about this one?

With Author Voice:

He’d trained his whole life for this moment, as many before him had, but never thought to see it with his own eyes.

Deep POV:

Edric scrubbed his face with his hands and stared out the window. They were at war. Was supposed to happen to some fool far in the future, not him. Not now.

The author or narrator voice is a tool, it’s not right or wrong.

Do you think removing the author voice brings the reader deeper into the story? Where might you choose to use the author voice intentionally and cheat deep POV?

* * * * * *

About Lisa

Lisa Hall-Wilson is a writing teacher and award-winning writer and author. She’s the author of Method Acting For Writers: Learn Deep Point Of View Using Emotional Layers. Her blog, Beyond Basics For Writers, explores all facets of the popular writing style deep point of view and offers practical tips for writers. 

She runs the free Facebook group Going Deeper With Emotions where she shares tips and videos on writing in deep point of view. 

Lisa is running a Deep POV Masterclass starting March 18 for 4 weeks. People can visit her Facebook group to be notified when registration opens.

Image Credits:

Top image from Depositphotos.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

21 comments on “How To Remove The Author Voice For Deep Point Of View”

  1. An interesting post. It's not always easy to separate 'telling' from 'showing' for me. This is even more tricky.
    Still, I think it's worth the effort to try.

  2. Fantastic examples. The differences between author voice and Deep POV can be subtle sometimes, but your examples clearly show us the distinct difference! I'll be adding this post to my Recommended Reading page on my website. Thanks for sharing!

  3. I love your extended metaphor of the car and driver. I read every one of your posts I come across on deep POV for the examples. So helpful! I'm on final edits of my book and deepening POV as I go.

  4. I'd add one thing I have found very useful in deep third pov: separating interior monologue into two categories, direct (specific, first person, short - and in italics) and indirect (a bit more general, third person, potentially longer - in regular font).

    The direct ones are exactly the words the character would think 'to themself' (as if you could think any other way), and the indirect ones are all the other random stuff that goes through a character's mind and that you want to pass on to the reader.

    The balance, to me, gives the feeling of being right behind the eyeballs, sometimes in the character's exact thoughts, and otherwise more generally.'

    It is not difficult, because those direct thoughts also are the ones that have the most emotional power, and carry a lot of the weight of why we're in the character's head; small amounts of the indirect thoughts are almost a way to do short info dumps WITH THE CAVEAT that the character must be obviously (to the reader) motivated to think those particular thoughts at that time. Otherwise, info dumps are still info dumps.

    It has become second nature to write that way. First I channel the character for a scene. Then I go about figuring out what the reader will want to know about what they're thinking - and how to make it seem motivated for the character.

    I don't think I can add italics here, but if you check out the sample of either of my Pride's Children mainstream novels (PURGATORY or NETHERWORLD) on Amazon or Goodreads, where the formatting is correct, there will be plenty of examples of how I've used this.

    It gives me, the storyteller, the capacity to be very immediate, 'right behind the eyeballs.' I love the control.

  5. I LOVE your author in the car versus overhead analogy. What a great, simple way you have to describe something that can be tough to understand. Thank you! Also, want to check out your Method Acting for Writers. I may have been caught acting out scenes in my house to get the POV right. Boy! Was my family surprised to find me crawling on the floor. Lol

Subscribe to WITS

Recent Posts





Copyright © 2024 Writers In The Storm - All Rights Reserved