For her latest Christ and Pop Culture column, K. B. Hoyle considers the role of storytelling perspective in apocalyptic horror stories.
Storytellers are manipulators — that’s part of the job of storytelling. The manipulation of our senses is what we sign up for when we enter a darkened movie theater, open a book, turn on the TV. We want to be swept away from real life into a world of other, and through that other to have our known world become a little bit sharper. This is the unique power and magic of story, and it is what keeps us coming back to it again and again, no matter the genre, no matter our awareness of the manipulation. Choosing voice and perspective are two of the most powerful tools in a storyteller’s arsenal. It is in these things, almost more than any others, that the author has the ability for a total manipulation of the audience’s experience. Storytellers determine what their audiences will see. By leaving empty spaces — by giving them darkness — they invite viewers and readers in to fill it with their own imaginations. This can be done in any sort of story, in which the storyteller is the architect of the parameters that will be filled, but in an apocalyptic horror story, it is an especially powerful effect because fear is so strong.
I always appreciate Hoyle’s thoughts on writing and storytelling.