If they can have two-ply TP why can't our details do double duty? There's a reason details show up in so many platitudes, they're essential in making writing vicarious. They're an essential ingredient in the cardinal rule of creative writing--"show don't tell" (which is often artfully broken, but that's a subject for another blog). My five finger fiction checklist for good details is

1. Be specific

A good book could be a mystery novel that had Chet gripping the page so hard, he tore a corner.

2. Be concrete

Eddie wasn't mad, he looked ready to grind his teeth down to the root.

3. Be sensory

It wasn't an annoying sound, Gayle's version of tickling the ivories felt more like cleaning your eas with a pocket knife.

4. Be partial

Wanda doesn't need to have a maroon four door sedan with an "I hug bombs" bumper sticker, a broken tail light and thirteen water stained parking tickets under the wiper blade. It's just a beater proclaiming Wanda hugged bombs from the bumper sticker and refused to head parking laws with the 13 parking tickets accumulating under her wiper.

5. Be original

Don't go for the ocean blue eyes, the emerald green grass, or the fluffy clouds, let the eyes remind you of the final quasar of light after you shut off the TV and the grass can be shade of your Algebra notebook.

And they're double duty details too, because the person staring into those blue eyes watches way too much tv and the kid avoiding cutting the grass is in Algebra.

The details you use should tell us more than one thing--they can establish character and setting or advance the plot while setting the scene. They need to do more than one thing at a time to earn their keep.

To learn more about details, pay attention to the use of details in the writer of your choice, better yet, compare how a poet uses them vs. a fiction writer or compare to fiction writers. Just dive right in, pick them apart and see what you can learn about creating details that do double duty.
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Published on May 29, 2015 06:21 • 450 views • Tags: creative-writing, details, fiction, poetry, writing-advice

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Word Wanderings Rest Stop

A. LaFaye
A few words on writing and wandering and where the two weave together.
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