How can I keep a secret from the reader? I’m writing mystery, and I can’t let the reader know why my POV character is [insert action: searching, driving to, making a u-turn without explanation, making accusations] because then there won’t be any suspense.
Yes, I’m continuing on the Deep POV FAQ series and this isn’t an actual question from readers but I’ve said: ‘you can’t keep secrets from the reader’ so often I SHOULD be asked about it.
How Deep Point Of View Works
It’s hard to justify a point of view character keeping a secret from the reader in first person POV, but especially so in deep point of view. In Deep POV, everything the character knows, sees, hears, tastes, touches, intuits, feels, etc. should be known to the reader. (Filtered through what’s important to the character in any scene.) That’s all the reader knows, so this is limiting, but it does mean you can’t have your point of view character know something and keep that from the reader. The reader will legitimately feel cheated.
Maintaining Suspense In Deep Point Of View
First, I believe that deep point of view can be used in any genre. Some genres are more suited to being written entirely in deep point of view than others. You don’t have to write your entire novel in deep point of view. You could learn the techniques and apply them to specific scenes, characters, or even moments to add emotional punch.
Hard truth: if your plot depends on your point of view character coming to some decision or revelation which they need to hide from the reader in order to maintain suspense – that’s a weak plot and/or weak writing.
As the point of view character learns, discovers, gets confused/frustrated, makes assumptions, follows leads, intuits, acts on gut hunches – the reader is along for that ride AS IT’S HAPPENING in deep point of view. Hiding that from the reader isn’t the way to build up suspense.
Deep point of view focuses on the emotional journey. It’s not JUST about solving the crime or the mystery. Readers want to know how the journey to solve the mystery affects the point of view character. How does it change them? What do they learn? And most importantly — what does it cost them?