Narrative distance



You know the idea of shot sizes in film and TV?

For example, this is what we might call an establishing shot:

Establishing shot of crowd from Rick and Morty

Establishing shots are more about environment than characters.

To focus on specific characters in the environment, we can use a wide shot:

Wide shot of Rick and Jerry from Rick and Morty

If we want to get closer to the characters, we can use a mid shot, which is good for showing relationships:

Mid shot of morty being questioned in Rick and Morty

And to emphasise a character's emotions we can us close-up:

Closeup of Morty

We could push in even closer, to an extreme close-up—on an eyeball or nostril—but this tends to give us less information rather than more.

However, sometimes in film we can find ways to go 'inside' a character and see a representation of their interior world, for instance through dreams or hallucinations:

Jerry hallucinates in Rick and Morty

(From Rick and Morty)

We can do something similar in writing, using what we call narrative distance.

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