Stories have the power to move people in many ways. That emotional connection can be increased exponentially when you have clearly defined characters, who provide their own perspective of what’s happening in your story. They may not be the MAIN character, but they can play a significant role in unleashing the power of the story. In movies, they are called ‘supporting characters’ and they are so important that in Hollywood, Academy Awards (Oscars) are given annually to the BEST SUPPORTING male and female characters in film. This might all sound a bit confusing, but let me draw a parallel to SHOW you what I mean. The video clip above is from a English Premier League football game between Crystal Palace and Manchester United. The fact that I am a HUGE Manchester United fan is entirely beside the point.
Now, before you click ESC or the BACK ARROW, or close your browser because you absolutely HATE football…soccer to North Americans…please indulge me and watch. You’ll see that it’s the same 8-second game play, repeated 9 times. The difference…and this is the point of my thought today…is that each time the play is repeated, it’s shown from a DIFFERENT ANGLE. The video description even says ALL ANGLES! The video shows a powerful long-range shot from United’s Nemanja Matic that resulted in a goal. But each replay, shows different angles, different views, and different perspectives. The angle behind the kicker shows what HE saw as he wound up and took his shot. The angle behind the goal shows what the goalkeeper saw as he tried in vain to save. Other camera angles show where different players were at the time of the shot, and the impact on some of the defenders when they realized that the goal was scored. From one angle you don’t even see the goal being score…but you do see the reaction of the United managerial staff. Other angles show the reaction of Matic and his teammates. From a few angles, you can see two Palace players collapse in agony.
I wonder what THEY were thinking? Your audience might wonder too, and IN SOME SITUATIONS, it’s wise to let the audience see and hear from other characters…not just the MAIN character. Yes…it’s YOUR story, but chances are, you aren’t the only character in the story. And Oh! Characters can help with CONTEXT. The clip shows what might seem an extreme reaction from the players, but the context will help to explain. Matic’s goal came almost at the very end of the game, which is exciting in itself. However, the context magnifies the significance. United had been losing the game by a 2-0 score earlier in the game, and they scored two in the second half. A game is 90 minutes long and Matic scored in the 90th minute! His goal was United’s THIRD, and it provided the crescendo to a thrilling 3-2 comeback…which explains the reactions of the players on both teams. Your ‘supporting characters’ can add CONTEXT to your presentation.
Here’s my challenge today. As you craft your stories, take a good look at all the characters. Does your audience understand each character’s perspective of what’s happening? How could that understanding change the telling of the story? Could it change the significance of the scene? Could it provide clearer context to the scene? Could it increase the IMPACT of the story? Providing the perspective of different characters can expand our audience’s understanding of, and appreciation for, the details and nuances in your story. It can trigger emotions that may not have been aroused had you not given your audience a different angle.
As you sharpen your stories, explore ALL the characters. Examine the scene from THEIR point of view. Let the audience see through THEIR eyes. When you do that, you will unleash the Power of PERSPECTIVE.
STORY Q & A
“I haven’t lived a very exciting life. Where can I find stories that will resonate with my audience?”
Here’s one idea. Go through the CAMERA ROLL or PHOTO GALLERY of your mobile device. The chances are very good that you will find some memorable photos. They depict the people and experiences that mean something to you. THE STORY IS IN THE PHOTO! To find the impact of your story, ask three questions:
What AMAZED me?
What AMUSED me?
What MOVED me?
The answers to these three questions will help you find the MESSAGE behind the story.
Remember, SOMEONE NEEDS TO HEAR YOUR STORY!