Thursday, December 11, 2008

The Devil is in the Details

I have written since I was in middle school. I have had stories swimming through my brain even before that. When I was young I had an overexagerated sense of detail. Every story that came out of my head had every minute detail I could think of. If I described a meal you knew every item and descriptions from all senses. Every piece of clothing my characters wore was completely explained to the reader.

As I grew I realized that I was going overboard in the detail area and I trained myself to do the opposite. However that also lead to a problem. I would send a scene to a reader and they would comment "Great scene but one question. . . Where are we? what does your MC look like?" And things like that.

To train myself to find a happy medium between the overly descriptive younger self and the lack of description current self has been hard. I struggle with the guilt that I am writing what we readers call "purple prose", or worried that I don't have enough and my readers are wondering what where who?

I recently found two books by Melissa Marr called Wicked Lovely and Ink Exchange at the library. She is really good at weaving great detail into the story with out you pulling away from the story and skimming over many paragraphs of description. (She also has built a wonderful world of Faeries.) In all I have realy liked her books. Ink Exchange is a little dark and I liked Wicked Lovely better, but I loved the deep character Niall in Ink Exchange.

There are many authors I have found that in one way or another I admire and emulate. Melissa Marr is one of them with her subtle detail and world building. I intend to study her methods and see if I can be more like her in the world of detail.


Janette Rallison said...

Detail is definitely not my strong part. Partially because I have that same fear of purple prose that you do, and partially becauase my editors are always telling me to cut, cut, and cut. Description is the easiest thing to take out.

Noble M Standing said...

I have recently developed the opposite problem. Now that my book actually has a plot it sits at 72,000 words whereas my old MS full of disjointed scenes was 106,000 words. After I have let it sit and stew for a while I will go back in and try to flesh out some more detail in the MS.