Friday, January 21, 2011

Detail, Detail, Detail!

Detail makes the difference between boring and terrific writing. It's the difference between a pencil sketch and a lush oil painting. As a writer, words are your paint. Use all the colors. ~Rhys Alexander

I couldn't agree more. I'm constantly telling my students (both in formal essay writing and their creative writing) to provide detail. To make their prose crackle with specifics. To be vivid, make their writing come to life. Because writing that's vague and abstract is writing that's dull and unimaginative.

But it's hard sometimes. It takes work, brain power, energy, to provide details. And it also takes the ability to distinguish which details to put in and which to leave out (let's face it - who wants to read detailed descriptions, floor-to-ceiling, of every single new room a character walks into? It's just not necessary...).

In the end, detail is crucial for helping the reader picture a sharper image in his/her head. It's our job, as writers, to guide the reader, nudge them to see the picture in our heads as we write the story.

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