Wednesday On Writing: Details Matter, Right?

Of course they do. It’s all the little things that make a story come alive for a reader. As a writer, my job is to not only tell a good story, but to make my readers feel as if the story is real. That often means adding all sorts of detail along with the main plotline. Color, texture, sound, taste, smell- all of those senses are part of most people’s life and that should be reflected in story. As a reader, I know I want to know not only what the characters in a story are doing, but what is around them. What does their world (home, neighborhood, city, country, kingdom) look like? Do most people dress formally or more casually? Uniforms? What do they eat and drink? All those details make the setting and characters come more to life and can get readers more involved in the story they are reading.

But- is it ever too much? Well, yes, it can be, especially if you are writing about something familiar to most people. If your story is set in a real world place, in  a contemporary or nearly contemporary time period, with real and familiar surroundings, a lot of intricate detail can get in the way. If your character drives a car in this contemporary world, you don’t need to go into extreme detail about the shape, size, and structure of the vehicle. If you write about his black pickup truck, pretty much everyone who reads that will know what that car looks like. Once you’ve set that picture, you don’t need to tell your reader every time that the truck is black unless there is a plot related reason to do so. They know his truck is black, so just mentioning the truck will bring that picture back. The same applies to things like houses, commercial buildings, and even clothes.

On the other hand, if you are building an entire world that is unfamiliar and imaginary, you might want to dive into more detail. This new place isn’t something a reader can Google to find out what it’s like. You have to build your setting and the details in it as you go, and you have to help your reader to visualize all these new things right along with you. That will often require a bit more detail and descriptive writing than if everything is already familiar.

There is a danger of going too far, though. You do want to let a reader know what your idea of this new world is, but you can over describe things, also. Or you can bring a moving plot to a screeching halt by dropping in paragraphs of description in a large chunk. Besides, some things should be left for the reader to imagine for themselves at times. If it is something that is central to the plot or to a particular character’s personality, you probably want to make sure that your vision is clearly drawn. Other things? Let your readers be part of the story by letting them make their own picture. Tell them he’s wearing a blue shirt, but let them decide what shade of blue. She’s wearing black heels? Let your  reader picture the details of those shoes for themselves. 

Details are important, but don’t let the overemphasis on those details drag your story down.

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Two's Company small thumbnailMedusa “Deuce” Grainger is smart, confident, and as good a pilot as she is a poker player. A freelance shuttle jockey working for an independent terraforming company, she’s left her former life, and her father, behind. Mostly.

Now, her AI has downloaded another Personality off a wrecked ship, and he’s acting oddly ever since. Someone wants to sabotage her friend’s company out of business, evidence of tampering is being corrupted, and people have died.  With an investigation looming that could shut down the company and cut off her main source of income, it’s up to Deuce to figure out what’s going on, and how all the pieces fit the puzzle. Along the way, she reconnects with an old friend and discovers someone is stalking her. Deuce will need to connect all the dots fast, because more lives are at stake than anyone suspects.

Learn more here.

tn_Circle Unbroken Cover (eBook)

After five years away, Kaili is coming home for the ceremony to install her sister as head of the family business. When an old rivalry threatens the family, Kaili and her partner need to use all their skills to save the sisters’ lives. Learn more here

 

 

tn_Six of One

A collection of six short fantasy stories set in varied worlds of magic and mayhem. Learn more here.

 

 

 

tn_Survival of the Fittest (Front Cover)

A short novelette set in a dystopian Earth after the final environmental collapse. Sam is a genetically engineered chameleon who may hold the key to mankind’s survival. Learn more here.

 

 

 

Feedmypeople-thumb

In a world reeling under the effects of severe climate change, food shortages are common, and arable farmland is scarce. Unscupulous distributors like Beni Oligowma take advantage of the shortages for their own gain. When a promising new technology for growing food even under the harsh conditions is unveiled, grocery store owner Frank is determined to see that everyone is able to benefit from the results, not just the Benis of the world.
Feed My People is a short story, set in a dystopian science fiction world, and is free. Learn more here

Five and Daemonthumb

Demon hunters Johnny and Cerise travel to the small town of Carroll Fork where they find a demon-possessed thrift store, a sweet old lady who is more than she seems, and an army of underworld inhabitants. Can Johnny and his trusty yo-yo save the town from a devil of a problem?

Five and Daemon, the Yo-Yo Files #1, is a short novelette in an urban fantasy setting, with elements of the supernatural and humor. Learn more here

YoYo#2Thumb

Things have been quiet. No demonic possessions, no otherworldly intrusions, nothing. And then Lucifer shows up in Johnny’s living room, claiming that two archangels are missing, and something is definitely not right in the heavenly- and other- realms. Saying he has nothing to do with it- this time- he asks Johnny and Cerise to help him find out what’s happening, and who is behind the disappearances. While they are trying to do just that, Lucifer is devilnapped by a larger-than-life serpent. He manages to get a clue to Johnny before he disappears. Johnny and Cerise are left to puzzle out the disappearances and try to find the missing angels. Oh, and stop what could mean the ultimate destruction of pretty much everything.

Snake’s Alive, the Yo-Yo Files #2 is an urban fantasy novelette with elements of the supernatural and humor. Learn more here.

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