Friday, April 28, 2023

Detail That Matters and Detail That Doesn't--What's Too Much, What's Not Enough?

Some people love lots of sensory detail in writing. I'm one of them. If a writer shows me the place, what the people wear, the smells and sounds, I'm right there with the story.

But I've learned over the years that detail only works if it's relevant to what's happening. One of my teachers called it "salient detail." In other words, if the character or narrator isn't experiencing shifts because of the detail, it's irrelevant to the reader. It can even derail the story's pace and purpose, dulling its shine.