1. Magnatolia
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    Magnatolia Active Member

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    Am I skipping too much over the details?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Magnatolia, Mar 30, 2014.

    Hi guys,

    I've just read a few pages of the Walk Dead novel, and admittedly the author of that was admonished for overuse of similes, catchphrases, and specifically spending half a page describing all the items that rich people have in their house.

    This got me thinking. I've posted a small snippet of my writing below, and I'm wondering if I should be adding a little more description?

    ---------------
    Later that evening, the sound of tires crunching on gravel brought Clair from her day dream. She got up and pulled back the curtains. Two troop carriers pulled up the driveway and half a dozen or so soldiers emerged. They advanced towards the front door. Clair heard the door open and Ange’s voice followed. “Good evening. Can we help you with something?”

    “Yes, ma’am. We’re looking for two people. One girl about yay tall, slim, wearing a dark top and jeans. The other is a young man with short cropped hair. You wouldn’t have seen two people matching that description would you?”

    “No sir. Can’t say I have.”

    Clair heard the slight quaver in Ange’s voice and stole into Jordan’s room.

    “Jordan,” she hissed. “The army’s here. Looking for us. Where can we hide?”

    Jordan grabbed her arm, “There’s a great little hiding place in the barn.” They ran out the back door and across the grass to the barn. Jordan went to where they kept the feed and yanked out some of the wooden beams, revealing a narrow gap where they could just squeeze into.

    -----------

    I thought maybe it needed a little more describing what's around them. Maybe they look around the room they're in, trying to find something that might resemble a good hiding spot. Such as this:

    Jordan glanced around the room as the voices of the soldiers grew louder, indicating they had stepped inside the house. He looked at the closet. Too obvious. The door to the cellar was on the other side of the house, but the soldiers stood betweeen them. "I know," he said, grabbing Clair's hand. They ran outside towards the barn. The barn glowed orange with the dying light of the sun as it began to set behind the distant mountains.

    Is that better? By adding a little more description to what's around them?

    Same goes with the description of hte zombies. I generally don't describe how they look, for instance, when they die. Like in this example:

    The bullet struck the zombie in the chest. “Shit,” she muttered, fumbling to reload the gun. The zombie drew nearer, mouth widening as its hands reached out towards her. The reassuring click as the bullet entered the chamber. She drew the gun up to her eye level and pulled the trigger. Blood spattered her face as the zombie stumbled backwards collapsing into the ground.

    The only real description of the impact is at the end. Should I add something like - The bullet lodged in the zombie's fleshy stomach, the trickle of blood not slowing it down at all.

    Thanks!
     
  2. Tesoro
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    Tesoro Contributing Member Contributor

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    I usually don't worry much about the detail in the first draft, that is something I leave for the first revision. I can't say if it's better or not, I guess it's a matter of taste. Details are good, but there has to be the right amount and in the right places (so it doesn't stop the action, not saying that's the case with your example though) You don't have to think about that now. Focus on finishing the first draft, I'd say. Worry about details later.
     
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  3. Magnatolia
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    Magnatolia Active Member

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    Thanks @Tesoro I think that's the best way to do it. That revision I did above with the soldiers reads way better and that's probably because I actually focused on the paragraph as I would in the second draft.

    Am I right to believe that detail has two purposes? One is to lead the action, and the other is to create the world around the characters, and how it relates to them?

    An example is The Walking Dead novel. A lot of complaints about too much detail and similes and that sort of thing. In one section they reel off a list of about 10 items in the rich peoples house they've holed up in.

    They wrote: The kitchen is a cornucopia, brimming with upper-class provisions nad luxuries: gorumet coffees, immersion blenders, crystal goblets, wine racks, handmade pastas, fancy jams and jellies, condiments of every variety, expensive liqeurs, and cooking gadgets of every description (plus a whole lot more)

    I would write something like: The kitchen was filled all kinds of expensive items ranging from crystal glasses, to an unimaginable number of gourmet foods and liquers, and even a top of the range Viking cooktop. Brian bet it never broken down like his old piece of shit that always gave off a burnt smell when it was switched on. He poured himself a glass of water in one of the goblets just to be fancy.

    Is that a better way to write that in the second? What they wrote is just a list of things, like a shopping list for a rich person. I then took that and related it to Brian. In my example I feel like I've portrayed the different in lifestyle.
     
  4. Burlbird
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    Burlbird Contributing Member Contributor

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    Hm, frankly, I think that the very first snippet you gave was the best approach to that particular scene. Not because of the details, but something else. Namely, the narrative focus.

    When you look at the original scene, what the reader hears and sees is from Claire's perspective: the narrator is "sitting on her shoulder", if you like, keeping the reader informed only of those things that the character experiences. And you stay pretty clear about it till the end of the snippet. Now, when you insert the details in a way you did, you make a sudden shift in focus - the reader is suddenly pushed into Jordan's head, forced to experience his thoughts and perspective. "Too obvious" - he thinks to himself.

    Now, the same thing (details of the surroundings, Jordan's calm decision-making in a stressful situation, his relation to Claire) could be achieved by not making this sudden focus shift, and I believe you would find the result much more satisfactory :)

    If you stay focused on a character, presenting his experiences to the reader, you automatically limit the amount, and the choice of details he perceives, just as you limit the actions (s)he may take in a situation, thoughts, emotions, etc. A person in panic won't notice the color of window curtains; a blind person won't see anything :)

    So yeah, I think you are on the right track when you switch that focus to Brian in that WD kitchen-scene. IF you want to stay close to your character, that would be one nice way of doing it. You can still use the list, as they did in the original - it gives a sense of distance, disinterest, stillness. (or just indicate the author's laziness :p)
     
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  5. Selbbin
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    Selbbin I hate you Contributor

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    I always go by the rule of only telling enough to keep the story flowing, but not too little as to remove the characters from their environment or cause confusion.
     
  6. Magnatolia
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    Magnatolia Active Member

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    @Selbbin Thanks, yeah that's what I try to do but I've got this feeling that I gloss over the telling details a little too much. I mean, that Walking Dead book, I read 18 pages and all that really happened was they cleaned out a nice house in a rich neighborhood, decided to stay a while, built a wooden fence, then the zombies discovered them. One of them dies by a zombie bite. That took 18 pages. I know they are big on character development so it requires a lot more telling. I couldn't even imagine using up eighteen pages to tell that. Two or three tops. I wrote a scene in 1200 words that involved two characters clearing out a medical centre, getting caught by 3 other raiders, overcoming them and locking them in a room, finding the cure they were looking for, setting an alarm off, and getting back to the farm. Now that I think about it I think I must have a lot of detail I'm not showing. I think I'll put a section or two up for critique tomorrow to see if I'm skimping on the details, rather than just a small paragraph.

    @Burlbird, What did you mean the narrative focus? Is that because I was in Claire's head (narrating from her point of view) then jumped into Jordan's head? The second paragraph with that small extra detail felt good so should I have done that from Claire's head. Such as Claire watched Jordan peer under the bed. No way we're fitting under there. The voices were getting louder. They must have entered the house. "Damn, the cellar's on the other side of the house." He grabbed her hand. "Come on, I've got an idea." Is that better? I'm staying with her pov rather than jumping into Thomas's.

    I do want to stick with the characters more, as I feel that the only way I really do this is through a small amount of internal representation and dialog. Not so much external, what they see unless it's something that hits them between the eyes like a weapon for instance. I think the list was just disinterest. I feel that they were trying to give an impression of what a rich persons house looks like. Whereas by seeing it from the character you get a better experience of it. I could've then decided that he resented rich snobs and written Brian took a swig of one of the gourmet liquers. "Hey guys, bet these folks never drank this gourmet shit from the bottle." He chuckled, wiping his face on a towel. Probably imported silk, he thought with a smirk.


    I prefer a mix of character-driven and action-driven, but with character being derived from the action.
     
  7. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    For me details are great for constructing a mood, tone and information. Too few - and your characters exist in a vacuum, too many and you subvert the action. Sometimes separating elements that need each other like dilemma & reaction can be hampered by squeezing in too much detail. Sort of like if a husband admits he's been cheating on his wife and then I squeeze in a few hundred details before giving her reaction - it wouldn't fly. Scene details should be worked in before key moments like that. That way you won't trip up the pace when you need it to move. It's definitely a matter of style, pace, and finding out what works per scene, though.

    I thought the first example of your piece worked best for the scene. The second lost its sense of urgency.

    As for the Walking Dead example. Lists can be good to show a sense of extravagance or an a kindof overwhelming sensation of - look at all this stuff! Imagine a boy in a sweet shop with five bucks in his pocket. He wouldn't just notice the jars of candy, he'd be stacking up his options - gumdrops, licorice whips, jawbreakers, - etc. But then again it is a matter of style.
     
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  8. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    This thread reminds me of an article I once read many years ago (I forget the author's name). The author had written some short stories and figured he was ready to try a novel. He reasoned, "Well, a novel is about ten times as long as a short story, so ten times as much stuff should happen." He came up with a plot in which ten times as much stuff happened, and wound up with a manuscript 120 pages long. He gave it to a friend to read. The friend said, "Not bad, but it sure is long."

    The author then read some published novels - not for pleasure, but to find out how they were structured - and discovered that it isn't that ten times as much stuff happens in a novel, it's that what does happen is gone into in much greater detail. The characters are more fully formed. The world is more vivid. Novelists are more patient when they build scenes than short story writers are. They have finer control of pace, stretching here and compressing there to build and release tension as the story requires.

    Having learned some lessons from published novels, the author rewrote his own. He took out many of the events and focused on the ones that the story really needed. The ones he kept, he dealt with in greater depth than in his first draft. The second version was 300 pages long. He gave it to his friend to read, and the friend said, "This is much better! Shorter, too."

    There's a lesson there.

    You complain that the Walking Dead book you're reading took 18 pages and not much happened. You say you'd cover those events in two or three pages. You say you wrote 1200 words in which an awful lot happens. My guess is, if you keep going the way you're going, you'll wind up with a 120-page manuscript that feels, to the reader, like a very long story simply because too much happens in it. The author of the Walking Dead book has the right idea. Take the time necessary to render the events you're including in vivid detail - enthrall the reader, in other words - and the reader won't feel that the book is long. It'll be exciting, and the reader will want more when he finishes the last page.

    I hope this helps. :)
     
  9. TLK
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    TLK Active Member

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    Beta readers, if you can find good ones, are great at picking up on stuff like this. It you're worried whether or not a certain scene has too little detail in, ask them what they thought of the scene: could they adequately picture it in their head? Is their understanding of it different to what you were trying to portray?

    It's probably not a very useful piece of advice at this stage in your writing, but something to bear in mind!
     
  10. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    The reader needs to see hear and smell your story. But I just wrote a scene of the maid pouring everyone coffee and it was tedious. I thought, if I don't enjoy writing it, the reader will also be bored. I decided to describe it as a ritual, rather than using the tedious details. I'm pleased with the decision.
     
  11. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    My issue with this isn't so much the lack of detail but the abrupt presentation: 'Later that evening, the sound..." It too clearly signals that here is a bite of plot.

    I'd rather that the interruption were an interruption to some other scene:

    Clair said, "Look, this is the first green vegetable that we've had in this house since last October, and you're going to eat it. I'm not going to have you get gangrene."

    Jordan poked the light-gray peas. "I think you mean scurvy."

    Clair shook her head. "Scurvy's about citrus."

    Jordan said, "At least it has to do with diet. Gangrene is--" He fell silent.

    Clair nodded impatiently. "Gangrene is what?"

    Jordan stood. "Don't you hear that? Somebody outside. Feel free to eat my peas while I'm gone."
     
  12. Magnatolia
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    Magnatolia Active Member

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    @peachalulu Yeah I see what you mean, rather than action, action, action it should be more detail, action, action, detail, action etc. Like you said adding the details before or after the action but not in the middle of it. I agree with the list but think it becomes mundane if there's no connection to the reader. One reader may like living in luxury so they feel comfortable with that environment, while another might not like having lots of things. Yet if the luxury reader suddenly finds the character showing disdain to those luxury goods then it might throw him/her. I think in the situation you're describing full stops would have been better. Gumdrops. Licorice whips. Jawbreakers. Little Johnny counted his coins. Aah! So many choices.

    @minstrel That describes me very well indeed! I have a goal to reach 50-100k words and I find myself adding extra scenes in. Don't get me wrong each scene has a reaction based on its creation. That might be obtaining more ammunition, showing a character strength/flaw, adding something to an existing character/character relationship. But yeah I agree that having so much in 1200 words has very little fat on it. If it's okay, I'll post up part of that 1200 word section, and if you could give me a couple of examples of where I should be adding detail that would be really helpful as I can then apply that to the rest. I don't know where it came from, but I have this belief that details that don't enhance a character, or push the story forwards are bad. As an example with the kitchen list I would probably have written The kitchen bench was covered in fancy gadgets, sauces and spices. Brian hadn't even seen half of this stuff in his life. In my mind showing what was on the bench is irrelevent because it doesn't push the story forwards in any way, yet you're completely right. These details don't need to push the story forwards, they expand the current portion of the story. They let the reader smell the flowers rather than just give them a cursory glance in passing.

    @TLK Thanks, I do have a beta reader, although she's only critiqued a short 11 page story for me before. I've added my thoughts that I may need to expand my details and will see what she comes back with.

    @GingerCoffee Thanks for that, yeah I definitely need to add more of the sensory details. I paint pretty good images of the internal mind of my characters. By ritual do you mean you showed her internal view of her actions? Such as Clair poured the coffees with the grace and elegance that bestowed her years of practice. Two sugars for Mr. Thomas and one for Mrs. Thomas. She'd never make that mistake again. Whereas I'm guessing if it was just details it might be Clair knelt down to pour Mr. Thomas his morning coffee. He winked at her from behind his morning newspaper. An action that did not go unnoticed by Mrs. Thomas who glared with contempt at her. Clair hurried over with her coffee. Mrs. Thomas glanced at it with a little sniff and pursed her lips.

    @ChickenFreak Do you mean by abrupt presentation in that I'm announcing that something is about to happen? Rather than have a dialog preceding the upcoming plot, can I simply have something like Jordan ate his peas with the same amount of gusto that one ate their favourite meal. It's amazing how much better something tastes when there's not much food around. "Did you hear that? I think someone's outside." He pushed his chair back and stood up. "Stay here. I'll take a look." A rap at the door. Jordan returned moments later, his face ashen. "We've got to hide. It's the army."

    Is that better? Rather than leading in I've blanketed it on either side?

    Thanks guys!
     
  13. MLM
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    MLM Banned for trolling

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    It took centuries to master the art of making clear glass, before which the art of making elaborate stained glass was perfected. When the techniques for making clear glass were mastered its usefulness came to be greatly appreciated despite seeming to be less impressive.
     
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  14. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    But why do you want to avoid the dialogue? Why rush through the peas?

    As I see it, a book isn't about having a plot and adding just enough character trimming to justify the plot. It's about the characters, and the plot is there in large part to highlight those characters. The example that I give offers some detail about Clair and Jordan's relationship, shows what Clair is like when she's relaxed and feels as if she has authority over her kitchen, shows that Jordan isn't longing for the past and normality the way that Clair is. And it's a moment of relief and comfort and bonding between those two characters. Now, of course, that's all just what I intend it to be--I may have tripped and failed to do that at all. And those things may not be true of your characters. But my point is that the book isn't only about gunshots and zombie attacks--it's about the characters.

    If you look at the Walking Dead TV series, Daryl and Beth in a recent episode spent a fair bit of time chatting over pigs' feet and peanut butter. That scene was about character, without a single gunshot or much in the way of strategic conversation. That's the kind of thing that I'm talking about.
     
  15. MLM
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    MLM Banned for trolling

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    Sometimes the plot is a vehicle for the characters, sometimes the characters are a vehicle for the plot. Sometimes the two are balanced. Neither style is "more literary". By today's standards, the ancient Greek and Roman classics are very pulpy. The modern novel is not the only or the most pure form of fiction.
     
  16. 123456789
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    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Swain offers an interesting perspective on this where he considers emotional time. Instances that are perceived longer by your POV should require more depth and detail. Maybe Claire is growing weed in her basement, she sees the soldiers and she starts to panic. In that case, better expand. Or, Claire grew up on the base. Half her family are soldiers and this visit really means little to her. Go ahead and condense.

    This perspective in no way undermines the advice given by others. Of course details can achieve many things. Expanding and contracting emotional time is just one more facet to consider.
     
  17. Magnatolia
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    Magnatolia Active Member

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    @ChickenFreak I guess for me the peas don't have meaning, which is something that I'm realizing is wrong. I try to limit my writing to only important things. For example I wouldn't write She looked at the plate and wished she could eat another mouthful, but the band around her stomach made her feel full after just a few bites. The half-eaten steak stared back at her, teasing her. Making her think that one more bite wouldn't hurt but she knew it would. It hurt already. I would probably just write The band around her stomach made her feel full way too quickly, and she pushed the plate away with a groan. The first one has a lot more detail, but it's all meaningful. Whereas the second one is quicker, and for whatever reason I opt for the quicker style, most likely because the only thing I've tried to write before are short stories.

    @123456789 Do you mean the perceived amount of time that the pov character would have in real time? So if a gunman pulls a gun on her she's not going to have time to notice that she's forgotten to put the washing in the machine. Whereas if she saw him at the mailbox, she might have enough to notice the washing, especially if it was in context. Shit, her washing still sat in the basket. No time. She ran into the kitchen to find her gun. Not there. Where is it? She wrenched open the drawers. Nothing. It was gone. She heard the front door open.
     
  18. Magnatolia
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    Magnatolia Active Member

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    As a literal example, is this a better more descriptive choice in line with what should be used for a novel-length?

    Original: The inside of the house was a mess, with streaks of blood running along the walls, which puddled on the floor.

    Updated: It would have been a stunning house with its’ polished tiled kitchen, and lush carpet underfoot. The walls that once had a pale blue flowery wallpaper now had streaks of blood running down them which pooled into the carpet, leaving it a stained and matted mess. Furniture lay smashed to pieces, scattered along the length of the hall. It looked like someone had come through with a sledgehammer and taken to everything with great gusto. There was no body to account for the blood, and Thomas wondered where the body had gone. He tightened his grip on the gun, straining to hear any sounds coming from the rest of the house.
     
    Last edited: Mar 31, 2014
  19. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    But what do you see as important? Even if something doesn't directly drive the main plot line, it can still be important. I think that what ties into the character's emotions is important, even if it's not immediately plot-driving.

    For example, in the steak example, how does she feel? Did she once love to luxuriate in a steak, and is she feeling an angry sense of deprivation at being unable to eat the whole thing? Does she carefully choose the juiciest, fattiest bits of the steak for the few bites that she has room for? Is she embarrassed for the waiter to see how little she's eaten? Does she feel guilty at spending so much for a steak when she can only have a few bites, but also feeling rebellious because she wants that brief taste of delicious beef fat?

    To me, all of that would be important. It would tell me my character's state of mind, her feeling, her motivations, how she might react to challenges.

    Similarly, what are the character's emotions about the ruined house? Was it their house, and do they remember how much work they put into putting up that now-ruined wallpaper? Does it remind them of their house? Were they hoping to stay there and are they now upset to have their hopes dashed? Have they always hated grand houses and do they feel a guilty sense of "serves 'em right" at seeing one ruined?
     
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  20. 123456789
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    123456789 Contributing Member Contributor

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    Actually, yeah. You've delved a little further into the basic technique, I think, by looking at two very specific types of emotionally packed instants ,that being the gunman having the gun on her already vs her seeing the gunman from a distance. In both cases the exact details you use to dilate time would be different, but I think both cases could have an expansion of detail.

    Here's something else, which I've noticed Nabokov uses especially in Lolita. He expands on the moments (through extensive detail) just before something drastic happens, sort of like when you're at the top of a roller coaster, and time seems to stop right before the drop. Since the narration is basically a recounting in the first person, he has the advantage of retrospect to make this work.

    In short, the use of details goes way beyond simply creating tone and building setting. You have metaphors, symbolism, character association, foreshadowing, but don't forget controlling time as the characters see it!
     
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  21. Magnatolia
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    Magnatolia Active Member

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    @ChickenFreak I'm in complete agreement. I always saw detail as important if it involves showing characterization, or advancing the plot. But I always forget about the simple act of adding imagery for the reader.

    In my steak example, she has a gastric band and loves her food. Do I need to actually tell that she loves her food? Shouldn't that be the subtext of what's written? The food is teasing her because she wants to eat more but she can't because the band makes it impossible. Maybe that could be added to with She hated that she couldn't eat what she used to. But she loved the effect it was having on the bathroom scales. It was a hard transition from being able to eat an entire steak by herself, and now she couldn't even manage a dainty little petite eye fillet. I don't really know how I could show how she feels any more directly without it feeling forced. I could write She was angry and bitter at herself for letting her weight get to this stage. It took a dire warning from the doctor to get her into action.

    @123456789 Thanks, yeah I picked two distinctly different situations. I like the idea of time slowing down when you're faced with intense conflict. Then you could illustrate how more detail becomes aware when you're in an intense situation such as She stared down the barrel of the gun. Her eyes took in the meat cleaver. Toaster. Iron. All great weapons but too far. There was also a fountain pen sitting on the benchtop. I've been looking for that. It's amazing that it's been sitting there this whole time and I never noticed.

    I'll look into Lolita to see how he does that, thanks!
     
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  22. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    It's hard to explain what I mean. I guess my issue with your examples is that they seem to be coming from an observer, not from the character. Example:

    Yours: She hated that she couldn't eat what she used to. But she loved the effect it was having on the bathroom scales.

    Mine: Steak. The smell, the crispy fat, the red ooze when she cut into it. God, she missed steak. It was a constant battle, the hunger against the joy of a slim skirt that fit, that was (hallelujah!) a little too big. She'd have to have it taken in. "Taken in." What a glorious phrase.
     
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  23. jwatson
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    jwatson Active Member

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    Detail is tricky. You've got to focus on what's important, while brushing past the mundane. Describe a new, impacting character more vividly than you would a tedious one that's just there briefly. Like Minstrel pointed out, detail has a lot to do with pace. When you describe a moment vividly, the pace is slow. It's not climactic, whereas the pace would likely be faster.

    If you want to build tension, spend time on description. If you want to indicate the beauty and ambiance of a moment, spend time on description. You have to make judgement calls. Telling rather than showing, I believe, only works when you're writing something mundane and unimportant, in which case, you may end up cutting said part upon later revisions.

    Always keep what needs to be there, and never anything you can do without. Same applies for description. It's a tough subject. I showed the first few chapters of my novel to a season writer and the first thing he said was, "The pacing's off. It lacks detail." That was because, as Minstrel put it, so much was happening, and he, the reader, could not discern what information to hang on to and what to dispose of, because I had included too much. You have to be wise with your economy. Keep what you need. And always flatter the readers' intelligence. No need to shove an idea down their throat.

    I hope this helps, as it is indeed a hard part of writing.
     
  24. Magnatolia
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    Magnatolia Active Member

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    @ChickenFreak hmm so it's almost like using creative ways to voice their thoughts without having to rely on I hate that I can't eat steak, she thought.

    Here's two examples where I've tried to go into more detail:

    Clair didn’t answer him. She was trying unsuccessfully to forget the memories, to think of happier times. But the memory was persistent, constantly invading her mind. That flash of … humanity in the creature’s eyes. Gone. Taken from that person without their consent. “I’m fine,” she lied. She felt far from fine. Her parents had brought her up to be respectful of others. She’d never even had a bad grade. Yet here she sat feeling like she’d just committed a hideous crime.

    and

    “Claire.” He looked intently into her eyes. “If it happens, I want you … to do it.”

    Clair looked down, shuffling her feet. “It won’t.”

    “But if it does.”

    She looked up through teary eyes, and nodded. “I will.” She hoped it didn’t, because she honestly didn’t know if that was a promise she could keep.

    @jwatson What about detail that enhances the visual aspect? Such as They ran as fast as they could, and kept running until their lungs burned for oxygen. Clair gasped as a stitch knifed her right side. Pain burned her vision for a moment; black dots dancing in her face.

    Thanks!
     
  25. jwatson
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    jwatson Active Member

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    In that latter instance, the start is redundant, which is what I was getting at. Omit what you don't need. Readers don't need you to explicitly tell them that, "They ran as fast as they could." Why? Because if you write, "They ran until their lungs burned," and, "Clair gasped as a stitch knifed her side. Pain burned her vision; black dots dancing," you're already showing that they ran as fast as they could, that they ran so fast that their lungs burned, so fast that Clair got a cramp and her vision blurred.

    It's little things like that, and you pick up on them each time you re-read your work, days, weeks, or months later. "Flatter the readers' intelligence," is a good mantra. Readers will piece together the extent to which these characters are running without you telling them, "They ran as fast as they could."

    Hope that helps.
     

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