These days, with everyone’s digital camera having a zoom feature, the term isn’t as film-specific as it once was. It is still, however, a term used in film direction — the director will tell the cameraperson to zoom in (or possibly dolly in, if the camera is on a dolly, but that doesn’t start with Z!) to get a close-up of one of the actors or of a portion of the larger scene as a way of creating emphasis. Or, alternatively, the camera will zoom out and show the viewer what is going on around the smaller scene, to put the scene in context.
We do that in writing, as well.
There are times in the telling of the story when it is necessary to zoom in, after a group scene or a descriptive passage, to home in on what the main character, or the antagonist, or some other key figure is doing. There are also times when it’s necessary to zoom out, to look at the whole scene, to put the character’s actions in context.
As with film, the choice to do a zoom shot in a book must jibe with what the story is trying to tell at that point. It must be integral to the action, and must always serve the advancement of the story and the development of the characters. It can, of course, be used to great effect when the reader is made to think, “why are we focusing here right now?” only later to realize, “ah, that was the reason.” This is particularly effective in mysteries.
Look at what you’re writing right now. Do you need to use a different “camera angle”? Do you need to zoom in on one of your characters, or zoom out to show your readers the full story?
The A to Z Challenge has come to an end. So right now, this series of blogposts needs to
… zoom out and fade to black …