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Zoom Out

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A good writer studies their subject like a photographer wielding a zoom lens. By looking at a character close-up, while also examining the larger landscape in which a character exists, the writer (and reader!) come to understand the connection between place and person, and how environments shape stories.
In the following passage, notice how the author begins with character, and then zooms out to the wider environment, thereby deepening our understanding of the person described.
Claiming Ground
Laura Bell
Under the covers, my hands are still against my bones, the edge of longing too great to name or call up. I wish for a fire to be lit in the iron stove by the door. I wish for the smell of coffee, a cup warm in my hands, a voice to say my name.
A dawn wind rustles loose tin and whispers through stiff sprigs of sage, their seedheads quivering against the wind for as far as I can see into the murky light and beyond, into the empty miles. East, across the Big Horn Basin, the horizon of mountains bears up the salmon wash of morning.
Now you try, dear writers. Write a passage of fiction or nonfiction, in which you start with character and then zoom out, as Kaitlyn Reese has in "A Smile in the Stars" and Ruthh in "In My Wardrobe."