Perspective + POV: How you look at things changes how you look at things
This past weekend, I headed out to the Oregon Coast for a business retreat with a group of phenomenal visionary business builders. We stayed together in a house right across the road from the beach; we savored sumptuous food prepared by our uber-talented, in-house chef, Zach; we cavorted (for real… we danced around); we shared our brilliance with each other through short presentations; we set goals.
When I hit the road to make the two-plus-hour trip with my friend, Krista, I was prepared to hunker down and work (the transition from summer to fall does that to me), and I went with the idea that I’d make the best of sharing a house with 11 other people (we introverts loooove our alone time).
My perspective took a turn after the first day, partially due to witnessing the genius of my fellow council members (and getting to know them better as people) and partially due to the skill with which Michael, our fearless leader, was able to go with the flow and adapt to what transpired. And part of it was also me simply deciding to change my perspective, dive in, and be present.
This came in the literal sense when we did an impromptu group polar plunge into the cold ocean waves right at the moment summer shifted to fall. Symbolic and exhilarating, for sure. This act woke up my adventurous spirit, which led me to do something I’ve dreamed of for a long, long time… I did stand-up comedy. It was short, and I had the best crowd possible… The set up with bright lights and a live mic made me feel legit. And I know I’ll do it again… with a longer bit and to a larger crowd of people I don’t know at all. And I woke up even more.
The point of all this is that perspective is malleable like clay. It can shift without warning, spurred by some external force or situation, or we can make a conscious choice to shift our perspective on our own. Our view of ourselves, other people, situations within and out of our control, and life in general, shapes our days and our lives.
Perspective also shapes the lives of our characters and their stories; and it applies to the angle from which we approach a scene, to the Point of View we use to tell a story, and to the way we think about our writing.
Here’s a POV writing tip
Think about how scenes in movies are shot –
long shots (LS), medium shots (MS), close-ups (CU), extreme close-ups (XCU).
Each one creates a different emotional experience for the viewer and determines the distance between the viewer and the character.
The same is true when writing for the page.
Try these exercises
First, write and rewrite a few scenes using the LS, MS, CU, and XCU approach.
Notice how the tone and mood change.
Next, if you aren’t sure which POV to use in your story, play around with giving everyone a shot at having the stage or being the focus of the “lens” and see what happens.
So often people don’t want to “waste time” doing exercises, but sometimes those exercises lead to the jewel your story’s been missing. Give it a try and let me know how it goes in the comments below.