I thought I would do a quick article about ‘detail’ in writing as I think it can be one of those things that gets overlooked.
While we can wax lyrical in our descriptions, we can still end up missing out that extra detail.
But why is detail so important?
Simply because detail adds an extra layer to the writing, to help draw the reader deeper into your world.
Maybe you’re sat there thinking “well I add detail, I fill my writing with description.” Great, you should make sure there is strong description.
But too often, writers can end up using notion rather than detail.
For example, let’s assume this is the first line of a chapter:
Anna slid behind the wheel of her car.
Not the best description but it does explain what’s happening.
Anna slid behind the wheel of her Lexus.
Now by just adding the extra detail about the make of this car, we paint a whole new picture.
With that first line, one reader pictured Anna in a Lexus, another saw a VW Beetle and another, a clapped-out junker.
By adding the detail of her car, we add new layers to the image. Now we see the touch of luxury. Maybe that will give the reader a different image of Anna herself.
Let’s do another.
Paul almost lost his footing on the slippery pathway, as he made a dash for safety. The metal gate gave a resounding clang, keeping him safe from the dog growling on the other side.
Paul almost lost his footing on the slippery pathway as he made a dash for safety. The metal gate gave a resounding clang, keeping him safe from the Jack Russell growling on the other side.
Maybe a reader saw a Doberman or German shepherd chasing Paul down. Now we have the image of a man panicking to get safe from a small dog. This sets a different tone entirely.
These slices of detail help to paint a truer picture. As writers, we might know that the woman’s dress is made of imported silk.
But sometimes these little details can slip through the net and we may have described the style and movement of the dress not included that extra detail.
A word of caution
As with everything, there can be too much. Please don’t ladle in so much detail that it feels like you have Corporate Sponsors.
Describing Eric as wearing an Armani suit and Rolex watch, while carrying the Financial Times under one arm and twisting the Cuban cigar in fingers, bearing Cartier rings as he heads for his Mercedes Benz SL65 – is too much.
The suit and cigar would be enough.
So choose your detail carefully. Don’t worry, Beta Readers will spot if you overdo it, I guarantee.
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