You can zoom in or out of your story by adapting your narrative, your pacing and your focus, and by many more little gimmicks depending on the type of story you write. But regardless of genre or theme, there are specific moments when a zoom level reaches its full potential.
The grand scale
Writing on a grand scale—or zooming out—means nothing else than employing a bird’s eye view on a specific scene or character arc, in order to detach the reader from any emotional implications and to offer a broader understanding of the connections to other parts of your story.
Writing on a grand scale has the best effect when used in:
– starting a new part of the story; you can offer a panoramic view before zooming in on specific events and people, and thus ease the reader into the new situation;
– brief transitional scenes; you can zoom out after an engaging scene to detach the reader from the action, so he can be more easily transported elsewhere,
– in conclusions and resolutions; it helps tie loose ends and wrap up the experience for the reader.
The small scale
Focusing on details—or zooming in—is beneficial when you want the reader to become emotionally invested, and lose himself inside your fictional world. By writing on a small scale and getting the reader submerged in intricacies, you prepare the terrain so that your twists and blows have the maximum impact.
Using the small scale is most effective in:
– action packed scenes; you can move things in slow motion to intensify the experience, by giving plenty of sensory detail and using a trimmed, crisp style of writing;
– conflict scenes; whether they are open conflicts between characters or inner conflicts within a single character, scaling down to the detail level helps create tension and emotional turmoil, by subjectively amplifying the complexity of the characters’ problems.
Of course there’s much more to writing effective scenes than using the adequate scaling, but this is an aspect no diligent writer should neglect. Many rules in writing are meant to be broken, but they must be so knowledgeably and not by mistake.