IMAX-ing Your Story

imaxRemember the last time you saw a movie in IMAX? What was your reason for choosing to go out of your way to see it on the screen in, say, Hamilton or Kitchener instead of the theatre in town?

I’m betting: BIG screen = EXCELLENT picture quality = BEST way to watch action scenes (Marvel’s Avengers, anyone?).

On a screen like that, you see the big picture even better than on a typical theatre screen. But at the same time, a giant screen allows you to see the details better than you otherwise could. You can notice the little things, the smaller touches the filmmaker inserted to make the story that much more realistic and immersive for the viewer.

I think we need to look at our manuscripts in a similar way, particularly during the editing process—a stage which you may come to this December or January.

It’s very important to be able to see the big picture as clearly as possible: Theme, Tone, Voice, Overarching Character and Plot Development. Those things must pervade the entire story and jump out at the reader just like an amazing explosion on a Big Screen.

But at the same time, a Big Picture perspective on our manuscript also allows us to add those little touches that make the story even more exciting for the reader… details in the setting, the clothing, accurate & plausible action (ie. fight scenes or battle scenes in particular), correct description & technical elements of specialty interests (ie. how long a horse can actually gallop for, or the correct pay grade of a field  archaeologist).

Those touches make the story that much richer, that much more exciting and believable for the reader. Without them—and without a clear Big Picture to contain the details in—you might as well be writing a standard theatre screen story. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

But I’m pretty sure you’d rather have it in IMAX. :)

classic-imax-documentaries

(A version of this post originally appeared on Literary Coldcuts on Toasty Buns in April 2011.)

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