Monday, December 14, 2009

The Delight is in the Details

An author who has recently caught my eye is Joseph Finder. I've only read two of his so far, but I sit back and think . . . this guy knows a lot about a lot.

I'm currently reading the new Dean Koontz. If you've read my blog very much, you know I find much to like about Koontz. Even to the point that I want to be him when I grow up. That's not to say he doesn't disappoint, but so far, Breathless is amazing.

He's using a sentence structure from time to time that makes me stumble a bit, but I like to give an artist the opportunity to try a different brush stroke before I decide I don't like the painting. I might blog about that later.

But what I've noticed, yet again, is the detail he imbues his stories with. Joe Finder does the same thing. I'm reading the words, learning (because I often learn through fiction) and thinking that this guy is the ultimate Renaissance Man.

How does he choose where to release the detail and how much can he release before it becomes an Information Dump?

I've learned in previous Koontz novels (and this one as well) that rats make nests in certain palm trees. Is that creepy, or what?

In Breathless I learned that thoroughbreds do better with their own companion animals; about choosing a base color in weaving, and a whole lot more about veterinary medicine than the average guy knows. Even a little about carving furniture and inlaying the wood with metal.

It's the tiny detail that underlines a moment. A scene. A thought. It's the tiniest bit of information that stamps it with the "reality" stamp.

As a reader, how does it effect you? As a writer, do you think you've found the balance?

CR: Breathless by Dean Koontz. Almost to the end, I've thoroughly enjoyed this tale. Hoping I don't get disappointed by the ending.

It's all better with friends.


  1. I like the way you've termed it a "reality stamp". Yes, as a reader, I have gleaned little bits of trivia about this and those tidbits about topics outside my usual purview makes it an enjoyable read.

    As a writer, I am still working on the balance ebtween information dump and reality stamp.

    I think the reality stamp is in some of the seemingly innocuous details. In "Bad Date" by Liz Brady, the corpse is found outside in a yard (don't worry - I am not spoiling the story here) and the author describes the body without getting into gory detail, but she does mention an insect on the corpse's face. That particular detail was almoost chlling, I remember thinking that once could only write this if one had actually seen it.

    All in all, the little factoids of reality keep me hooked and draw me further into the story.

    Cheers, Jill

  2. As a writer I'd like to believe I've found the balance, and as a reader, I really value it. Breathless sounds good. Thanks.

  3. Jill, I love factoids. They lend credibility to everything else . . . as long as the factoids are right.

    I have found I tend to bore easily. Am I a product of my generation, or am I getting too old to waste time with the whatever I consider to be mundane?

    Information dumps are story killers, either way.

    Sheila, I finished BREATHLESS this afternoon and have to say I LOVE the way Koontz explores the possibilities. The way he makes us think beyond the world as we know it. I'm guessing BREATHLESS won't be critically acclaimed, but bits of Koontz's faith shines through. Always intriguing to see.

  4. As a reader, I have to say that sometimes I like details, and sometimes I tend to skim over passages to get "back to the story." I think at times the author may get carried away with some topic they find interesting, but the plot itself was more what I wanted to move on with.

    As a new author, I'm trying to learn that balance. At the moment I'm taking a sabbatical from my own edits in order to read a couple writing books and more books with elements from my current WIP. I don't generally read a lot from those genres and I thought it might help give me a better feel for pacing and the appropriate amount of technical details to include.

  5. Those can be real "skimmers" for me as well, Lee. I think the trick is to keep 'em few and keep 'em short. VERY few and VERY short.

    One of the reasons I can't read a Tom Clancy novel. Too much detail! Ugh.