P.W. Creighton

It's The Unanswered Questions That Haunt Us...

Leading Lines

In a composition there are a variety of techniques that can be utilized to explore the piece. One of the most dynamic means of guiding the audience through a piece is through the use of leading lines.

Leading lines are one of the top rules of visual composition and are used to great effect to guide the viewer's perspective through the piece, drawing attention to focal points and creating narrative rhythm. These lines are also can be used singularly or with additional supporting lines.

Photo Credit
A narrative composition is led by leading lines as much as any visual composition, however unlike a visual composition the leading lines are not only visual based on the narrator's perspective but also a product of dialogue.

The narrator's perspective has a strong influence on the composition through the depth of field, viewing angle and the leading lines. Through the narrator's perspective it is possible to guide the audience through the piece in a similar fashion as a visual composition. The narrator's perception can create tension, emotion and dynamic depth through their perception of the scene. As the narrator examines a particular scene, their view will follow the same leading lines as an audience would with a visual composition.

Ex: I forced the weathered metal door open and stumbled out onto the platform. The tile was cracked and broken, covered in disturbing stains that led to the tracks. The tracks were rusted, long forgotten as they ran down the tunnel and back into the real world.


The narrators eye follows the leading lines as the audience would view it in the visual composition. The eye follows the lines of the tile in the foreground to the tracks which prominently guide the eyes down in a linear direction.

Dialog leading lines are often more clearly defined as character movement within the environment or lines that begin or end a scene. These lines convey movement not only through the visual composition but through the story as well. Often these lines are used as indicators for scene and settings change.

Ex: "Well, that's not going to matter anyhow." I heard her let out a sigh. "Fine, let's do this." I stopped and looked at her. "That's the spirit. Ready?" She nodded. I turned the knob.


The audience's perception of a narrative composition is subject to the same rules of visual compositions. Through dialogue and scene leading lines, an audience is guided through the piece in a fluid, dynamic manner that keeps the piece interesting.

Powered by Squarespace. Background image by P.W. Creighton.