Macro to micro

Macro to micro views

Paint a picture. Zoom in and out. 30,000 feet down to street view and back. Come with me; this is a story. Some of what folks struggle with in telling a story is the story is too high level or over indexes on details. As it happens, this is an attempt to break down the ‘happy medium.’

As my kids tell me, I attended art school in the late 1900s. In my B/C level, attempts at painting found me unmatched to the task. Gesso’ing canvases was something I was good at; stretching a fresh or not-so-fresh canvas on a new or used stretcher was my jam. Painting well was not. Skills(sarcasm). The whole, still life, paint that, not so much.

I am trying to remember the professor’s name; he was a gruff, adamant New Yorker who needed more patience and time. He did, however, impart a solid moment of clarity in the haze of linseed oil, sadness, and two-burner Mike moments in the basement of Drexel’s main building underneath engineering labs. 

See the still life in the macro (I did not know what that meant) and then brush stroke in the micro (I did not understand that exactly). He then explained with mild contempt how to approach the still life, the canvas, the oil, the paint, and the moment when the psychomotor relationship happened. Brush, paint, hand, eyes, and a canvas. Macro to micro loops. Rinse and Repeat’ish.

You see, macro (still life), mix ingredients and paint the micro (brush stroke). This feedback made it through my thick skull on one or more occasions. The techniques aside, I would eventually learn to paint and barely get a B. But it was that macro-to-micro lesson that stuck with me over time. Maybe it may seem obvious to some, but to me, it was not.

There is much to unpack there. My college painting experience aside. Understanding how to create movement, dimension, and depth in your storytelling can make a difference using this macro-to-micro approach. 

Now, you could cheat and prompt an AI to do it; where is the fun in that? Some of the elements to building up your own M2M repertoire:

Sidebar: I am preparing for a workshop at a hotel in Seattle (this pic reminded me of the macro-to-micro painting lesson). I struggled to sleep, creepy pillows, feeling underprepped. A teammate said she thought I was better by the seat of my pants. SMH. 
  1. What is the audience’s objective, why are they there, and what must they leave with? You can have multiple objectives, and they may be opposing.
  2. Content rhythm. Do you understand the movement of the content via the story? There are many ways to get and have this rhythm. All stories can have a beat. It does force content curation. Less is more.
  3. Narrative flow: how does the story wind its way through the timeline you have? The story stream flows like water around content, and the zooming in and pulling back can enhance the rhythm.
  4. Improv macros and micros. Once you have over-prepped your way there, you can improvise and flexibly zoom in and out.
  5. Callbacks are super helpful and used in loads of narrative forms. There are ways of creating a macro point with micro detail and then using callbacks from prior points to keepmoving and still hold attention. Reinforcement.
  6. Get brutal feedback from all the preps, know your material and murder board issues, and over-prep your dress rehearsals.
  7. Pro-Tip: Once you have over-prepped til your team is annoyed at you, read or reread the ‘Man in the Arena’ speech — Tell your story ten times before you tell your ultimate audience once. Get after it.
The Story Farmers.
Storyfarming, y’all don’t even know what it was like to hang and tell stories with these villagers….#keepstorytelling #keepstoryfarming

If you made it down here, I am grateful. Your results may vary. But still #keepmoving. Hope this helps you tell a good story. Good luck.