Sunday, February 13, 2011

Details

Nothing wrong with the general. We spend a lot of time living in a general world. But it’s the specific that makes writing come alive. There will be summary in novels of course, telling that will often be general in nature. We need it. It moves the reader from one place to another in the novel, keeping the focus on what’s important instead of loading the reader down with pointless detail. We need the general, but what makes a novel come alive is specifics. If you have details, the right ones, the work will seem real.

From the writers POV, I think you arrive at the right choices in fiction, at the right details, by getting in the zone. That is, you get yourself to that subconscious place where you are living the world of your characters. Then in revision you look for those places where you’ve given way to the general—used the wrong word or failed to make a scene seem specific. It’s a constant battle to make every sentence and scene significant. I think this struggle is where a lot of our success or failure as writers occur. Genuine writing comes out of the specific.

6 comments:

Lisa Gail Green said...

So true! It's the details that add the level of realism that suspends disbelief and allows the reader to completely immerse in the world of the book.

Girl Friday said...

Very true. I've been revising and looking for spots where things sound too general. Just the odd tiny, specific, telling detail can make all the difference in making your fictional world come alive.

brian yansky said...

Thanks for the comments. I do agree that sometimes the difference between a piece of fiction that works and one that fails is in those small details.

bulioni said...

Glad to read your post today via @cynleitichsmith. So important! I'm on my way to workshop with 3-5 graders on using details to bring writing to life.

bulioni said...
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brian yansky said...

Thanks, bulioni--good luck withe the workshop.