Claire King


Posts Tagged ‘Context’

Heads up, everybody!

Posted on: April 22nd, 2011 by Claire - 22 Comments

Most days, when I’m running (or walking) the view looks something like this.

And this is what I’m thinking…

  • I’m about half way around now.
  • I must post that letter when I get home.
  • How do I improve that short story I’m writing?
  • I wonder if my invoice has been paid today.
  • How do I develop the conflict in this novel I’m writing.
  • I must answer that e-mail. How to best phrase my response?
  • What will we have for dinner? Shall I shop first or get the ironing out of the way?
  • Where’ve those dogs got to?
  • It’s getting hot, I ought to have another drink of water.
  • No, but really, how would that character react in that situation…

Then sometimes, occasionally, I remember that I’m not driving a car. That I am allowed to take my eyes off the road. And that I can lift my focus away from the path and from where I’m putting my feet. I remember where I am, what I am doing. And then this is the view.


After that I’m no longer thinking about all the things I have to do. I can take a few deep breaths and then get back to concentrating on one thing, which for me is always mulling over the story I’m writing.

Now, I know that not everyone has this particular view, but it does work in towns and cities too. Even in supermarkets. Try it. Zoom out from your focus, from the pavement or the people in front of you or the shortest distance between you and your objective, and have a look around. See the big picture that you’re in. Change your perspective, notice your environment and see what effect that has.

NB – I still don’t advise this while driving!

I think that this applies also to writing fiction. Sometimes we can get too caught up in propelling our characters through their character arc and forget that although they may be the focus of the story, they are still part of a bigger context. Pulling out from a tight character viewpoint and bringing in the bigger picture is not a change of location, or a change of scene, but a change of ¬†perspective. It acknowledges the world in which the narrative is taking place. And for the reader it can offer a moment’s rest.

I bet in screenwriting there is a name for this. Does anyone know?