Monday, June 18, 2012

A Matter of Perspective

Post by Jenny

This is not news to anyone in Northern Colorado, but we’re on fire up here. Not in a 'hit-every-shot-in-an-NBA-playoff-game' kind of way, but in a ferocious, out-of-control wildfire kind of way. More than 50,000 acres have burned, and an army numbering 1,300+ firefighters scrapes and scraps around the clock for every precious percent of containment. Despite all valiant efforts, more than 180 homes have been lost.

Now, I’ve had bad days. Some of them were Very Bad Days. But I’ve never had my house burn to the ground. Likewise, I’ve never been turned upside down by a tornado, washed away in a flood, or buried under earthquake debris. Natural disasters do tend to put our lives in perspective. Though the people who have lost their homes in the High Park Fire are sorrowful, many of them are putting things in perspective, too. We’re safe, they say. Our possessions can be replaced, but our family members cannot.

Perspective has an expanded meaning for writers. Generally speaking, it is the point of view from which a story is told. I have no doubt that many stories, true or fictionalized, will be written about this massive fire, and from many different perspectives. Perhaps that of the sheriff, who took office in January 2011, or of the fire chief, who was sworn in to his position about six months ago. (Talk about a trial by fire for those guys.) The evacuees, the people whose homes are ash now, the many firefighters who face down the fire on the ground and from the sky, the folks who are caring for displaced pets—when this is over, they’ll all have a story to tell.

But not all compelling stories are told from a human point of view—a ‘life in the forest’ saga entitled Bambi comes to mind—and maybe someone will write from the perspective of the animals who fled the fire, thereby giving words to their fear and upheaval. And how about the point of view of the fire, that voracious beast, raging forward at speeds up to 40 feet per minute, consuming everything in its path? Can any of us know what it would feel like to have that much power? In the hands of the right writer we can.

Do you have a favorite perspective for storytelling?


Patricia Stoltey said...

What about those moose that have wandered into Fort Collins. Can you imagine their confusion and fear when faced with all this activity after escaping a wildfire? Thinking like a moose would be a challenge though.

In my own writing, I like writing from the point of view of the antagonist...channeling my inner bad guy. It's different.

Cindy Keen Reynders said...

I write in third-person, and I stay mostly in the heads of my main characters. Sending prayers to folks affected by the fires.

Jenny said...

Pat, I'm sure that moose is doubly confused now, after being tranquilized and relocated. And I'm intrigued by the thought of your inner bad guy :-)

Thanks, Cindy, for your comment and well wishes!

Amy Frazier said...

...or the perspective of displaced natives of Ft. Collins, following the fire, many miles away. And knowing that fire may change landscapes, but memories of home endure.

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