Book Review – Rivet Your Readers with Deep Point of View by Jill Elizabeth Nelson

Some of my writing lacked passion and excitement. At times I thought of it as the phone book with verbs. I’ve spent months struggling to figure out why. Thanks to Jill Elizabeth Nelson’s Rivet Your Readers with Deep Point of View, I found my answer. I needed what she refers to as a “Deep Point of View.” Ms. Nelson described Deep Point of View as follows: “The narrative should read like the thoughts going through the character’s mind but without the need to italicize as in direct thought quotations.” (Page 17)

Someone in my critique group encouraged me to read this book. After feasting on an extra-large helping of humble pie, I decided to take the not-so-subtle hint. At first I didn’t think I’d get much out of the book due to its brevity; it comes in at only 59 pages. Just like a short poem in which every word impacts the finished product, each page presented valuable information for making one’s writing much more engaging for readers. I’ve read numerous books on craft, but never encountered a guide this concise, efficient and practical. I applaud Ms. Nelson for the accomplishment.

I can’t praise this book enough. In addition to the guidance on enhancing POV, the author provided much sound advice regarding the mantra “show don’t tell.” I thought I mastered this in my writing. Not so. In addition to the myriad “tell” words all us writers use more often than we should such as thought, felt, saw, etc., the author explained that we must also eliminate “prepositional tells”. Some examples of these include expressions such as “in agony” and “with smug satisfaction”. (Page 43)

Ms. Nelson included many examples to illustrate her points. I’ll refer back to them for years to come. The ends of the chapters contained worksheets. The author challenged readers to apply what they’ve learned and take a passage written in “Shallow” POV and change it to “Deep” POV. I struggled through several to discover this wasn’t easy to do. Following the worksheets, the author presented her suggestions on how to fix.

I’m thankful my colleague recommended Rivet Your Readers with Deep Point of View to me. I’m also greatful for the book’s short length. In order to apply its lessons to my own work, I’m going to need as much time as possible for editing.


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