Writing Exercise: Camera Focus

Photo by Alex Azabache on Unsplash

When writing, the depth of the “camera lens” can convey importance and feelings. Should a wide-angle lens be used to show the thousands in their masses gathering for battle, or should the writer focus on the boy who had been conscripted, on his face, the terror in his eyes.

READING/WATCHING EXERCISE: Review a scene on screen or in book for focus. Is it long or short? Did the creator change distance? Why do you think the creator chose that presentation? How did it further the plot, character development, and/or worldbuilding?

WRITING EXERCISE: Take apart a scene you recently wrote for “camera focus”. Did genre drive some of the choice? Is it a plot choice or a character development? Comment below.

My attempt

“Memory of a Kiss” (1/21/2024), inspired by the Geeking Science research for “In space, they can’t hear you burp,” I meant to focus on one guy getting his first beer on planet. That is not how the flash unfolded.

First, we have a long angle lens of a ship landing. This establishes genre. Then a slightly tighter focus on people rushing to establish urgency, but still a very long range shot. Everyone is shadowy figures; gender, age, and relationships are not established. A world building dump happens, keeping everything high up with boom shots.

Next, a couple clicks in. A room instead of a landscape, three characters, and a transaction. A montage of words, money changing hands, and beer landing on the table. A throat shot for drinking. Nothing personal.

Then closer, talking. Things slow down. We, as the readers (and the writer … it was a pants flash that did not go in the direction originally planned), are introduced to the characters. Names, genders, maybe even some past history is revealed. Group shots if on screen. One of them walks away.

Final focus, condensation, touch, eyes meeting. Extremely personal.

The camera started with a wide shot, completely impersonal, and moved closer and closer until a worldbuilding science fiction story ended up being about two people and their memories of a kiss.

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