I thought, last night, of ways to explore stories from a thousand perspectives, each reflecting off another so that the images created by the light refracted through multiple prisms would be far clearer and more precise than even an three-dimensional image.

The challenge of such an exhaustive exploration would be to maintain some sense of excitement and interest as each image fits into the next. The concept begs the question, too: are readers (or any of us, really) sufficiently interested in depth to tolerate the breadth of such a presentation? Do the unique attributes of each perspective hold enough fascination to keep the reader’s eyes locked on the page?  Probably not.

The richest stories are simple, straightforward, and memorable. That is probably the best lesson to learn; complexity satisfies the appetites of a small band of people. The larger swaths of the reading public is more interested in tales that resonate without reverberation.


About John Swinburn

"Love not what you are but what you may become."― Miguel de Cervantes
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3 Responses to Perspectives

  1. Holly Forrest says:

    It would be great fun, though, for multiple narrators to recount the same sequence of events. It demonstrates that perception is key, that no two people see or hear precisely the same way. Other things intrude on understanding, muddy the waters. There was a fun Dick Van Dyke episode that had Rob and Laura telling the tale of their horrible day, with their spouse cast as a villain. In fact, now that I think of it, they employed that structure more than once during the run of the show. Sort of a he said/she said thing.

    As for length (or breadth) vs depth, often less is more. Sometimes it helps to overwrite, then pull out chunks that are redundant and save them for something else. 🙂

  2. I think. I write. I wish. I wander. says:

    I have always loved “The Lottery.” I didn’t recall that it was received in such a way; that’s writing at its finest, when people ‘get inside’ the story!

  3. jserolf says:

    Agreed! Shirley Jackson’s “The Lottery” still resonates with students today — and it is a simple short story, hardly more than 4 pages in length. Publish in ’47, it struck magazine readers with such intensity that within days of its publication, Jackson received thousands of letters from readers demanding to know the location of this village.

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