Thursday, March 7, 2013

Minor Details

I was trying to figure out what to write about this month. There were no witty anecdotes, no interesting experiences to relate, not a whole lot of anything. I've been in my office writing and trying to write. We had - well, really, I had muse problems. And motivational problems. But there was a deadline. So, I read some, turned off facebook, tried hard (and unsuccessfully) to not answer my phone and sat down to write. With some success. But it's from the reading that today's post comes from.

The book is on character development, no not the title, and the author mentions how some details are minor and most likely do not bare remembering and certainly do no require large amounts of time pondering over. I agree and disagree. From my perspective as both a reader and a writer, there is no such thing as minor details. There can be too much information or too much description (just as there can be too little of each also), but within the pages of a book, there are no minor details. There is no need, please, for five, ten, or fifteen pages of description of a desk or office unless it is extremely important to the story - then break it up with action and dialogue. For me, reading that much description ends up feeling like I'm reading an inventory sheet. Mattress, 1 each. Box-spring, 1 each. Dresser - 4  drawers, 1 each.

If your Hero is wearing a suit with a tie, the color may not be important or even mentioned. He may not think anything of it as it is appropriate for the situation. Or it may tell us that he's color-blind or that he's not used to suits and can't wait to get out of it. Regardless of why he's wearing it, which is more likely to be of bigger importance, when he gets undressed later, the tie needs to be removed. This is also part of consistency.

This isn't to say you have to labor over every word, every detail, you don't. It's more to say, that there is truly no part of your characters lives, their struggles, and their world that can be arbitrarily discounted or forgotten. "I don't need to remember this, I'll never use it again." You may be right, however, the details bare remembering in case you're wrong. Kind of like that old cliche "Never say Never."

In my free time I'm a genealogist. There are are plenty of times I've looked at class listings, articles, webinars and such and said "I'll never need to know that" and by-passed it. Yeah. Months, days, or even years later I uncover something and uttered something extremely classy like "Well sh*t". Because, yeah that topic I never needed to know about - I do.

If you're trying to figure something out and you look up at a calender or out a window or up at the TV or people going by and find the answer. Great. Use it. Absolutely. Just keep track of it. Minor details are not just part of the consistency of the story, but they also can be part of a character's back story, where he or she came from.

I'm sure there are people who disagree with me and others who could probably say the same thing in a way that makes people sit up and take notice, which makes the most enlightening discussions.

Happy Writing. Happy Reading.

Simone. (Who is happy Spring is almost here).

1 comment:

Patricia Kiyono said...

I'm happy for spring, too! I agree about the importance of details - I tend to forget them. Or I'll include them in one part of the story and change them in another. Thank goodness for proofreaders and beta readers!