Monday, May 31, 2010

In the Details

There is magic in the details of writing. Like the lens of a camera, detail can be used to help the reader focus on your story. The trick is to learn the quantity of detail to include.

Too much detail and all we offer is mess and chaos. The reader finds herself sifting through wads of pointless description and grows bored. Too little detail and all the reader gains is a vague blur.

The reader is a skilled traveller. Even though you take them on a journey, they can fill in many of the gaps. They can create the places, furnish the spaces, but they also want a guide’s hand through your world. They want the highlights pointed out. They want to be able to touch your vision and experience it as if it were their own.

They want to smell the burning toast, but most importantly, they want to feel. They want to care. Their emotions are directed through focussing your writer’s lens in all the right places.

How do you find the right balance of detail in your stories? How do you know if you’ve written enough detail or too much?


  1. This is a tough one...

    I fear that sometimes when trying to get my point across, I ramble on and lose my readers...I tend to lean towards too much detail as opposed to too little...

    A friend once wrote...don't use 5 or 6 words to describe something that can be done in 2 when proofreading, I try to adhere to that principle...although at times, some embellishments do enhance a story...

    Like I said...this is a tough one for me....

  2. I tend to give too little. So, when I edit I both take away and have to add. Then I get to a point where I can't tell anymore and I have to leave it for a while so I can approach it with a fresh eye again.

  3. I really enjoyed reading the posts on your blog. I would like to invite you to come over to my blog and check it out. God's blessings. Lloyd

  4. Detail is one of my strengths. I've pulled back on it some, but then feel I swung the other way. Too dry. When listening to or reading other works, the beauty and interest lay in the detail - whether I can touch that world and care about the characters.

    I was going to give a tutorial on setting / detail in an upcoming article.

  5. Lloyd - thanks for visiting. I always try my hardest to check out the blogs of my commenters and followers :)

    M Pax - I'd be very interested to read that tutorial on setting/detail :)


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