Don’t you just love the word “knew.”
It’s a cool word… It must be since we tend to use it ALL the time when we write.
She knew that this would happen…
she knew that he wanted…
She knew that he knew that she knew about the thing that he knew about long before he knew that she knew that he knew. (Yikes!)
Why do we have this LOVE affair with the word? Because it’s easy. It comes natural. Because we want to TELL the reader that our POV character knew something.
But if we are writing in Deep POV, shouldn’t our readers already know that what you are writing is something that your character knew? Plus if we are writing well, shouldn’t we be showing vs. telling???? Ouch, we’ve only heard that one a billion and a half times, huh! In reality, if we are telling our reader that our character “knew” something, we are keeping them at arms length. They won’t be able to feel the story, to experience it from the character’s POV. Instead, they are looking at you, when you want their focus to be on the character.
Kaye Dacus just posted a fabulous blog series on Deep POV, so I encourage you to go check out her blog and read more. I’m only touching on a brief bit here.
So, in interest of full disclosure, I’ve searched my manuscript for all the “knews.” This was something I needed to do anyway, so I figured it was blog research and editing all at the same time! LOVE multi-tasking!
I’d like to point out though, that not ALL knew’s are bad. There are some that are okay (but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a better way to word the phrase either.)
Here are a few of my heinous “Knews”:

  • Jenny knew her friend had come up with some doozies in her time
    • Revised: Her friend had come up with some doozies in her time.
  • but she knew that regardless, she’d been bested, and must stay true to her word.
    • But regardless, she’d been bested and must stay true to her word. (fixed my comma issue too, HA!)
  • she knew it was a foreign state for Jenny’s meticulous bedroom.
    • It was a foreign state for Jenny’s meticulous bedroom.
  • Jenny knew it had to be Kat.
    • It had to be Kat.
  • Jenny and Paige both looked at each other and knew they had no other option but to comply.
    • Jenny and Paige looked at each other. They had no other option but to comply. (deleted the unnecessary both too… geez I need to post more often… I find lots of cool things to edit!)
  • She knew the truth of the matter.
    • The truth wasn’t hard to guess.
  • she knew Paige was just giving her room to bond with Jack.
    • Paige was just giving her room to bond with Jack.
  • When his hand began to roam her body, she knew it was time to fight.
    • When his hand began to roam her body, it was time to fight. (I can SO see some eyebrows raised here!!!)
  • Jenny wasn’t pleased with that answer, but she knew the wisdom was wise.
    • The answer didn’t please her, but it was hard to argue with the truth. (Seriously???? The wisdom was wise? WHAT WAS I THINKING?!? Thank you GOD for editing!!)

And a few –okay- “knews”:

  • Jenny knew Paige much too well
  • She dialed the number she knew by heart (by heart is a bit cliché… I’ll be sprucing it up a bit!)
  • Jenny would thank her once they knew the truth about Jack
  • God knew their good intentions,
  • Jenny was sure Paige knew it wouldn’t take all day to purchase a laptop
  • He prayed that Paige knew better than to say ok.
  • When he heard the corresponding “Umph”, he knew she hit her target.
  • She knew exactly what Jack meant, because that was exactly why she’d planned to say yes this morning

I’m not saying that these can’t be reworded better to exclude the “knew” but they don’t take you out of deep POV, which is my point. Or… maybe they do. *grin* What do YOU think?

There are a TON of other words that hint at a lapse in deep POV. Anyone care to share some examples?



  1. Thanks for the examples. The good thing about the “knews” is that, most of the time, they’re easy to fix. I am a big fan of “was” and “just”. Oh, and adverbs 🙂 Yeah, those are fun.

  2. Hi Krista,
    Looks like we have a few more days until the contest results are ready! More nail biting, right?!

    I definitely over use words like knew, seem, and try. It’s hard to stay in deep point of view. But it’s something I’m aiming for!

  3. Another one, probably worse than knew, was FELT.

    I just found 84 of them in my book! Seriously Krista? Ugh! Shame on me! And that is AFTER numerous edits that were THOUGHT I’d gotten rid of them.

    Cindy, Just is another one of my vices that I’m trying hard to let go of!

    Jody, Yes, a few more days! But I do have to say, I was thankfully actually. I was able to relax over the weekend with the knowledge that I didn’t have to fear checking my e-mail or hold my phone in my clenched fingers every second of the day!

    I’ll have to check seem and try!

    Oh, and was… that is SO a hard one, because there are a lot of times that you NEED to say was too. Blah!

  4. Awesome examples Krista!
    Deep POV is something I’m still trying to work on. Thanks so much for the post. 🙂

  5. This really was fun to read. I just knew I’d enjoy it. It seemed to be real and I felt connected.

    🙂 Please get my humor or this will be the lamest posting ever!

  6. Jessica, keep working on it! I think it’s always something I’ll have to work on, but the more I do it and watch myself, the easier it is getting.

    Christina… I got it! LOL

Comments are closed.