The Little Details

As I make my way through my second edit between living my life, I’ve noticed something is missing.

The little details.

I’m missing the little details. I have people dressed but in what? I have people entering a room but it’s empty. I have people in a car that was never described and dancing to music that isn’t acknowledged.

This is a bad thing, but it’s expected. When I write my original draft, I tend to skip the little details in favor of writing the story. My fingers fly across the keyboard and because they can’t keep up with what I want to say, the little details are left out. This isn’t always the case but it does happen. There will be naysayers out there that say “if you can’t write it properly the first time you’re not a good writer.”  Boo to them. Naysayers will do anything to bring me down and I don’t care what they say.

This book is so much fun and it’s very fast-paced. It happens in under two weeks. Because of the pace and excitement level, I did skip a lot of little details.

I don’t see this as a problem, now I have the opportunity to go back and fix what’s missing with a calm mind.

For example:

Original:

I rushed to get dressed and ran down the stairs to the busy street. I skipped my morning coffee. I would get one from the franchise near the office.

I hurriedly walked the six blocks north and dodged people too busy to care that they were in my way.

This needs some work. Now you don’t know the character or why she’s rushing, that’s not important for this example. Because word count is of little concern this time around, I can embellish without worry.

Corrected:

There was no thought to the grey pencil skirt I slipped over my hips nor the powder blue blouse I fumbled to button. I tore a pair of stockings in my haste and cursed until I had my blue flats on my feet.

After nearly tripping down my apartment stairs out to the busy street, I elected to skip my usual morning coffee from the little shop across the street. I needed to get to the office six blocks north. The sunny morning was an exercise in dodging people too busy to care that they were in my way.

Now she’s wearing specific clothes because this story is fast paced I try to keep track of what each character is wearing by having a day summary for each day in the story.

When putting in details like skipping the coffee, it’s an opportunity to set the mood for later or a moment when she might go to get one elsewhere. When editing it is easy to put in small details that can have a big impact. They are foreshadow’s on a small scale.

Finding the missed details can be a challenge, I’ll often have others read my story and let me know when they can’t imagine what a character’s wearing or doing or where they are exactly.

My advice about little details.
Fit them in without listing them off, have the character interact with the object or space you’re describing. Whether you put them in from the start or later when you edit, don’t forget to mention what kind of coffee someone is sipping.

-Sheryl

Copyright © 2017 All rights reserved

Other posts about details

Details, details, details

She’s a person not a cake

Dancing

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7 thoughts on “The Little Details

  1. First, regarding the “nay-sayers,” you’re definitely right to ignore all that BS. I absolutely believe you are on the right track. I mean that’s what editing is all about…filling in the gaps. And when you go through a third edit, you can hone what you have written.

    I had to get the above off my chest, because this post resonated with me so closely. I’m at the last four or five chapters of my novel and recently I read over the first part and realized how much editing…adding detail, as you say, and deleting the junk. I believe the detail is extremely important in bringing the reader closer to your character and to their world.

    Very sound advice. Thanks for posting! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I so agree. When I write ( you may have noticed) little errors, missing data regarding body language (which is my big thing) but I will re-read and add the bits and pieces. It’s not essential if it makes the writing lag and stops the creative flow. Once everything is in place, adding the missing bits is far easier, flows better and just plain works. I know detail is crucial, it makes the moment live, makes the character more real and not a flat piece of cardboard. Still, I am all for getting the story down in place and real and adding the vibe and nuance afterwards. Sometimes the clothes or body language is so integral it just happens. I so love you, Sheryl. You are witty, smart, and always share ideas and details that make writing better. Kudos.

    Liked by 1 person

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