Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Week 10 - Perspective

4 Mar - 10 Mar: What a View!

In the 50 Essential Strategies for Every Writer, Roy Peter Clark suggests turning the notebook into a camera and writing a story as you would shoot a movie.  By placing the camera in the hands of one, or many players, and allowing the narrator to zoom in and out, perspective can help develop characters and set tone.

Clark suggests considering the following cinematic viewpoints:
     1. Overview - this is like an aerial shot where the scene is set;
     2. Establishing shot - the narrator focuses on the immediate area of action;
     3. Middle distance - characters and their interactions are described;
     4. Close-up - the narrator is able to detect and describe mood and emotions;
     5. Extreme zoom - the most intimate details are related in accordance with the point-of-view.

The following exercises aim to use point-of-view and perspective to aid description and set tone.

Exercise 19.  Describe falling snow from the perspective of:
a.       A mother who has lost a child (without mentioning the child, death or cause of death); or
b.      A young man newly married and who has just been promoted in a job he loves (without mentioning marriage, his wife, his job or his promotion).
                 (Adapted from exercises in John Gardner's, The Art of Fiction).

Exercise 20.  Zooming out and in with your notebook camera, write a short description of a desert from the perspective of an Inuit or the arctic from the perspective of a Bedouin, noting both similarities and extreme differences of environment.

Now that I've thought a little about (and hopefully practised) some of the whys, hows and whats of writing, I'm hoping to pull it together in the next few weeks by exploring overall composition, starting with Outlining in Week 11.

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