Monday, December 14, 2015

The Camera Viewpoint's Use for Descriptive Pacing

In my blog entry on participant viewpoint, I talked about the dangers of using camera viewpoint in writing scenes, but the idea of a camera shooting the action can be useful when you are writing description.

As you describe a room from a character's viewpoint, imagine that the character is that camera as he scans the room as he enters. 

In a scene which doesn't start with high action such as a fight, he would scan right to left or left to right, and the important objects would be described in relationship to those near it. The character would see the piano, then the bar, then the poker tables on the far side. 

If some object or person is important--the character is looking for it or meeting him, etc., then that object or person is described first with the general impressions of the room then the details of the room can be filled in as needed. For example, if someone is coming at the viewpoint character with a sword, he won't notice the piano or the bar except as possible objects to hide behind.

Movement is also important.  A person’s gaze will follow movement, particularly movement toward him.  If someone is walking toward him, he will notice this before noticing the furniture in the room.  

When writing that description, the idea of the camera shot can also keep you from making a mistake in visual pacing.

If you are describing the room, then put in a character's mental comment about something, and then you go back to describing the room, you are doing the equivalent of beginning to pan the room with a camera then jerking the camera toward the main character's face, then the camera returns to panning. 

By thinking of the visual description as camera work, you are less likely to make mistakes in visual and action pacing that will jar your reader.

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