Excellent Point of View Craft Lesson - Psychic Distance


I just watched Reedsy’s latest craft video on their YouTube channel. I found it very informative and really relevant to Daniel’s upcoming Style and Voice summit. If you have 15 min to spare, I recommend giving it a watch.

It talks about something she calls psychic distance which is essentially just how much distance there is, in the way a sentence is worded, between the narrator and the character; especially in regards to point of view. I think it relates to the upcoming summit because I believe one of the aspects of ‘voice’ is exactly this distance the author chooses between narrator and character. Writing that hops around between various distances, especially going distant after being close, is very jarring and confusing.

Here is the link:


Thanks for sharing the video in your post. I like how she equates the depth of POV as the psychic distance between the narrator and the character. I’ve so often heard that 1st person POV is always the closest, no matter how deep you write the 3rd person POV, but I’ve felt uncomfortable with that sweeping statement. In this video she makes it easy to understand how 2nd person or 3rd person POV can be closer to that of 1st person, simply because of the addition of the dialogue/thought tag versus the way we speak to ourselves.

[Apologies about she/her/etc above, but she spoke so fast I didn’t/couldn’t catch her name.]

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I believe her name is Shaelin. I have a little trouble catching it in her Reedsy videos too because she speaks quickly and they edit it so tightly that sometimes the next sentence comes a little on top of the previous. Still, the content is good. I caught her name mainly because some videos show up in the Related Videos sidebar for her own channel - ShaelinWrites.

Glad you enjoyed it and got something from it. I liked the shorter one she links on Character Voice too.

I haven’t watched the video yet (hey, it’s bedtime here in NZ) but just had to comment that the main focus of my re-writing is to make that distance less than I’d written it in the first draft. It is so true that distance is all a matter of how the words fit together.

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I watched it too and found it very informative.

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@tannislaidlaw: Hi Tannis, totally off topic here, but I just spotted that you’re in NZ too. I feel less ‘lonely’ now. I’m in ChCh - where abouts are you?

Just south of the Bay of Islands in Northland at the moment, Kas, in our adobe house overlooking the Pacific! Having a very very good summer (spare a thought for our northern hemisphere writer friends who are not only in winter but also having to cope with COVID and all its effects…). My husband is in the Sth Island right now having just competed in a 10km swim in the decidedly cool waters of Lake Wanaka - he’s just texted me to suggest we take advantage of no tourists and discounted airfares and make a trip to see the sights down south this summer. Maybe even ChCh!

We live half time here and half time in Ak. So half time with head down writing at the beach (lots of walks and swims too) and half time writing in the city but sandwiching in coffees in cafes, lunches in pubs etc.

Sorry, guys, for this off topic discussion, but it’s really neat to have another Kiwi here!

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I’m just about to watch the video now (Thanks Argent, for posting it/sharing).
One of the novels I’m working on has a scene that takes place on New Zealand’s S. Island … on the shores of Lake Wanaka (which I had a wonderful time visiting several pre-Covid summers ago/when it was winter there).
It’s a family & relationships genre book struggling to not turn into a spy thriller, but at the same time suspense (and also POV and ‘psychic distance’ perhaps?) is key to the reveal of family secrets. A little joke on this I came across this morning in Benjamin Percy’s THRILL ME (Essays on Fiction):
Q: What’s the key to suspense?
A: I’ll tell you later.