Monday, May 19, 2008

Good is in the Detail

Generalities are scene killers.

Some mountains were ahead of them.

Whoa. Stop. This is where the novelist can combine chosen facts with the five senses. You don't need to hit your reader over the head with information, but selective details will help put them in the scene.

What do you see in this picture? What do you smell? How hard would it be to find out the name of a couple of those wild flowers? What's the name of the mountain range? From where, geographically are you standing? Can you hear the water falling ahead? Does any of the mist hit your face?

Which character is in this scene? Why? Are they wearing hiking boots (don't be afraid to name a brand) or are they in sandals with dirt and rocks making it painful to walk?

If your scene is important enough to be included in your story, it's important enough for a little detail. But make the detail, the paragraph, and the scene have consequence. Make something happen. Link the scene to the plot to the motivation to the character.

Have you ever skimmed paragraphs? I have. I think one reason is because I can't see anything in them that matters. Not enough detail gives me the impression the words and therefore the scene, aren't important. Too much detail that goes on and on, and I wonder if it's really necessary for me to read it all.

It's all better with friends.

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