P.W. Creighton

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

Macro-Composition

Every composition has a set of defined elements from depth of field to subjects to the very contrast of the details in a piece. There is however, no set scale for any piece.

The challenge of any creative piece is utilizing all of the elements to form a connection with the audience, to give that emotional bond that keeps their attention, makes them want to understand. In a narrative this can mean perspective in the piece or scale of the subject matter (Will it affect the world? or Just a few lives?) or this can mean the very length of a piece.

Building a connection between the audience and the composition can be achieved through a variety of methods but the strongest is creating the 1:1 connection, a Macro-connection.

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In photography, establishing a 1:1 connection between the audience and the subject is achieved by focusing intently on the minute details of a larger subject. The Macro-composition is created by selecting the details of a larger composition that best represent the larger piece and then making them larger than life, a direct 1:1 ratio.

Eg. The larger composition is a broken down and forgotten home, now overgrown with trees and is slowly collapsing as autumn sets in with the early morning sun. The Macro would be a close up shot of the neglected flowerpots along the fading stucco wall with a few fall leaves resting on the pots with a hint of the early morning sun.

Creating a Macro-composition in a narrative can be one of the more difficult things for a writer to accomplish. It is often easier to express the larger implications of a narrative by breaking the 1:1 connection. In a third-person perspective it is common for global effects to be viewed by jumping to an outside narrative character that can witness these. This breaks the 1:1 ratio and the essential 'spell' that the audience is under however, and the last thing any writer wants to do is break their audience-composition connection.

There are a number of ways to express a larger composition within the details of a given scene or event without breaking the Macro-compostion. To borrow the phrase from Rohe ~ "The Devil is in the Details."


Controlling the focal point of a composition and through a clever use of details it is possible to express the larger composition without breaking the Macro 1:1 connection. These practices are easily attributable to Macro-Compositions, telling an entire narrative in a few precisely chosen details and words.

One of the strongest practices comes from utilizing video as art. The Macro-Challenge consists of creating 4 video clips under 15 seconds each, the catch is they need to be 'Non-Symbolic' but convey an emotion. In short, it means to convey love the cinematographer can not use hearts, flowers the color red, people etc. Through this practice the cinematographer learns to take explicit care in developing every 15 seconds.

In a narrative, the desire to focus on larger details can inhibit the audience-composition connection or even break that connection if the wrong focal points and details are selected. The solution is to utilize the Macro-Challenge of cinematographers. Many of these challenges are currently floating around including Twitter-Fiction and Flash-Fiction among the many other variants. Taking specific care to craft a narrative in a sentence or two encourages a conscious selection of words and details. As the short sentence is perfected then that same approach can be brought to the paragraph, the chapter, the novel and ultimately the series.

Every composition, every narrative has a Macro-perspective embedded in the piece. Utilizing precise details can convey a larger composition without ever breaking the 1:1 connection with the audience.

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