Posted by: Kathy Temean | October 29, 2014

Never Say He Thought/She Thought

rivet your readersEarlier this month I added Jill Elizabeth Nelson, Rivet Your Readers with Deep Point of View to my writing library. Did anyone check it out when I talked about it a few weeks ago. If you are looking to help you rivet your readers, then I highly recommend that you take a look at Jill’s book. I don’t even know Jill, I just feel that it is helping me with my novel revisions.

The information is good and the price is right – $3.99 on Kindle and $5.39 in paperback. 

Here is a sample about getting away from presenting a shallow POV:

In deep point of view, you do not need to write he thought/she thought. The same goes for he felt/she felt…he knew/she knew…wondered…realized…speculated…decided…wished…etc. These phrases are death to Deep POV, because they create narrative distance. Readers are not at arm’s length from the character, not in the POVC’s head where they belong.

A narrator is required in order to say that a character “knew” something or “felt” something or “wondered” something. Inside ourselves, we rarely preface or follow our thoughts with those kinds of words. We simply think what we think without saying to ourselves that we “thought” it or “wondered” it or “knew” it> If we are inside a certain character’s psyche, why would we need to say he thought/knew/realized/felt something, etc., when we can proceed directly to whatever it was that the character thought?

Here are some examples:

Shallow POV: He thought a good bath wouldn’t hurt the dog.

Deep POV: Whew! A good bath would do this dog a world of good.

Shallow POV: She feels a sinking sensation in her middle.

Deep POV: Her stomach drops to her toes. (Notice this example is in present tense for the sake of variety.)

Shallow POV: He knew that if she did that, she’d fail.

Deep POV: If she did that, she’d fail.

Shallow POV: She wondered how she would get through the next day.

Deep POV: How could she possibly survive the next day?

Shallow POV: I wish I hadn’t said that.

Deep POV: If only I hadn’t said that. (See how Deep POV applies to First Person too?

In Deep POV, we get straight to the point, exactly  people would think in their heads, without the narrator commentary. As with most rules, an exception exists. It’s okay to write he thought/she thought, etc., in dialogue.


“He thinks the dog smells,” Betty said with a laugh. Or even better, “He thinks the dog smells.” Betty laughed.

Here are a couple of hints for transforming those “telling” sentences into “showing” Deep POV:

1. Never underestimate the power of “if” and “if only.”

2. When a statement won’t do, pose a question.


Shallow: A pair of strangers approached the house, and I wondered who they could be. I felt fear grip me. It couldn’t be the IRS again. I thought we’d gotten that misunderstanding straightened out.

Deep: A pair of strangers in suits and ties goose=stepped up the walk toward the front door. Not the IRA again. My stomach clenched. Hadn’t we gotten that little misunderstanding straightened out?

Jill, so glad you wrote this book.

Jill has written many romantic suspense novels. Click this link to view her books and website.

Talk tomorrow,



  1. So if I got it right, the article’s referring to what some people call “filter words.” What about inner thoughts? Is it ok to express them with italics, and in some occasions, followed by he/she thought?


  2. Definitely going to check this out! Thanks for sharing 🙂


  3. Sounds like a great resource for writers. I’ll definitely have to check it out!


  4. Very helpful examples! I have to check this book out. Thanks Kathy 🙂


  5. Jill’s suggestions for deeper POV have already helped my writing.Thank you so much for posting.


  6. I love when examples are given to clarify the points 🙂 Thanks, Kathy!


  7. Classic omniscient narration is my ultimately true style, and nothing will deter me from my attitude.


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