Sophie absently listened to the girls’ conversation and sat down at the table. Her love of architecture and design drew her eyes up to admire the big arched windows close by. She liked the secluded area where the host seated them. She took a quick survey of the surroundings and noticed the ceiling, at least thirty feet high. Massive arched and square windows lined the parallel walls. The chandeliers sparkled beautifully and that light combined with the sunshine made a glorious sight.
Alexander came over and interrupted her thoughts. “This was the hot spot since the eighteenth century. I bet you didn’t know that.”
Admiring the great architectural design of the room, Sophie sat down at the table and absently listened to the girls’ conversation. Alexander came over and interrupted her thoughts. “This was the hot spot since the eighteenth century. I bet you didn’t know that.”
Which example do you think best utilizes detail? I’m sure we’d all agree the first one does. Without going on forever, the first example gives just enough detail to pull you into the scene; whereas the second example leaves you wanting to know more detail about the “great architectural design of the room.”
How can you utilize details to your advantage? You can be stingy with your details. What? Wait a minute, you say. I know I just got done sharing that you shouldn’t skimp on details. To clarify, you need to value each and every detail you include as if it were a gold coin. You don’t want to include details just to include them. Really, every word we write should have a good reason behind it for why it’s included in our novel.
So, if you want to tell the reader that someone is wealthy, should you write?
Jasper Jenkins was a very wealthy man.
Or would you go with option two?
Jasper Jenkins drove his BMW (or whatever other luxury car you’d like to include) up to the iron gatehouse and punched in the security code. The gate opened and he drove down the long, tree-lined private driveway. He came to a stop near the Italian fountain and exited the car just as Nigel, his butler, came rushing down the front steps to assist with carrying the luggage inside the sprawling mansion.
Remember that you are creating the movie or word picture in the reader’s mind. Of course, the reader will create his or her own picture while reading—but the point of being an author is to give the reader all the details he or she needs to see the picture you want him to see…in order to correctly portray every aspect of your story in the best possible way.
Where do you stand on details? When you read, do you like to know as much information as possible or do you think less is more? For the authors, do you load on the details in your books or keep it simple?