Monday, April 20, 2009

Even the little things

When we focus on a tree, what do we see? If it's flowering we see the blossoms and the branches and many of the small details fade into the background. I love focusing in on the little things. Appreciating the beauty of new life--of what you can't see unless you're right on top of it. Giving even the little things a voice.

In writing, it's lovely to get some close details. I think we have to include some for perspective and color and authenticity, but too many can bog a story down. Moderation in all things. What do you think?

33 comments:

Tess said...

Ah, you are a photographer as well. Beautiful.

And, you are right. It is that elusive balance we are always striving for.

Natalie said...

Definitely moderation. It's a thin tightrope to walk, but when done well the story shines.

peace, love, and rock&roll said...

I think it depends....When well written, I don't find reading tons of details bothersome as long as they are pertinent to the story. Some stories require that amount of detail.

Justus M. Bowman said...

I like to add details that slip under the radar of most people but delight a specific field's nerds. It's my humble way of saying, "I know so much!."

Windsong said...

Amen. The details make the world seem real, but if you put in too many, the story becomes the world building. Like you said, moderation in all things. I think the balance between too much detail and not enough depends on the story. If the story is set in a world that's radically different from our own (or genre), then we'll need to put in more detail than one like our own. I do think it makes things smoother if the details are there to propel the story forward rather than just being there.

Beautiful picture!

T. Anne said...

Love your picture. It reminds me of a plumaria. I always neglect the five senses in my writing it's something I have to keep on myself about. Thanx for the reminder.

lotusgirl said...

Tess, I am and thank you.

Natalie, Yeah sometimes I think I just break the tightrope when I get on.

A, It depends on the story you're telling.

Justus, yes, you do. It's astounding! hehe

Windsong, That's a good way to put it. and thanks!

T. Anne, Thanks, The picture is from a Redbud tree. I'm working on getting more of the 5 senses in my writing as well.

PJ Hoover said...

Totally moderation. And I think it's learning to give the details without it seeming like you are, maybe by the insertion of just the right word.

lotusgirl said...

PJ. Such a great point! That's why you're the published author amongst us.

PJ Hoover said...

LOL!
I've actually been thinking a lot about this in my most recent WIP. Because every time they go to a certain location, I can't describe it once again. But I can put in a memorable word.

Lynnette Labelle said...

Gorgeous pic. Moderation is always the key... except when it isn't. LOL

Lynnette Labelle
http://lynnettelabelle.blogspot.com

beth said...

So beautiful!

And so eloquent--it's how, one picture of a close up in lots of detail is beautiful, but 50 would lose the impact.

Jenn Johansson said...

Only details that add to the story should be used, put in too many that don't and it goes from colorful and intriguing to monotonous and boring.

lotusgirl said...

PJ. That's another great point. Sometime that memorable word or phrase can bring back all of the original description.

Lynnette, Thanks, LOL! So true. It all depends.

beth, Thanks, I like that idea. It's like when you start a car. It needs a little gas, but too much will flood the car.

Jenn, It's so true. I'm looking for that fine line in my current project.

Angela said...

great segue there. I love seeing the small things. It's where the wonder is.

:-)

Cindy said...

Thanks for commenting on the little details. Sometimes I forget or get caught up in being so general, describing a nice day or the way someone looks. But it's those little details, something specific that really gives our stories a voice. Thanks for the post.

Pop Champagne said...

what a lovely picture!!

Litgirl01 said...

Finding the words to describe something so that others can visualize it! Exciting! I often have my students describe paintings when we do narration! FUN!!!

Pen Pen said...

:) I tend to put too much description and go very "Herman Melville" on my writing, and it's for sure something people are always wanting me to pull back on--I gotta respect that. It's the same rule as including profanity: "If it's needed to tell the story, go for it, but superfluous amounts is tragic."
:)

Lady Glamis said...

I agree. Moderation is almost always the key! I love little details, especially when they run deep, like roots, and lend themselves to some great symbolism.

Solvang Sherrie said...

As a reader, I tend to skip if there's too much description. So I keep it to a minimum when I'm writing.

lotusgirl said...

Angela, Thanks. I'm all about the segue! I love the little details, too.

Cindy, In some of those things we do determine our uniqueness.

Pop, Thanks!

Litgirl, That's a great exercise for all of us writers.

PenPen, Yeah, I'm not a big fan of profanity either.

Glam, I love how you put that. run deep, like roots...

Sherrie, I think a lot of people do that.

KLo said...

The biggest things are just made up of an exponential number of little things. I love your thinking style : )

lotusgirl said...

KLo, Exactly! I like your thinking style too.

giddymomof6 said...

I love this post! I remember the first time I read Harry potter I was so surprised that I had completely got the image of so much--it felt as if I had read two or three pages but when I looked down I had only read a paragraph. that woman is amazing in her word choices--so discriptive and subtle too. Jenni

scott g.f. bailey said...

I don't know if "moderation" is really the important idea. Perhaps it's more helpful to think about focus and meaning. Certainly there's an urge some of us have to give the reader every stone, pane of glass and peeling chip of paint in the cathedral where our characters are standing, and that level of detail might not move the story along. Likely it doesn't. But in real life we sometimes notice a loose button on someone's jacket when we're having a conversation, or that the third step of a staircase we're walking up has been recently replaced, or whatever, and I think these telling details (if, that is, they are actually telling) can give readers a richer reading experience than an architectural rendering. Maybe. I appear to be rambling.

Also: like Justus, I like to slip in little details that maybe only I will appreciate.

lotusgirl said...

Jenni, Rowling is amazing with that. It's one of the things I loved about HP.

Scott, I think it depends entirely on the story. If we need to see every paint chip in the cathedral to make the point of the story--that there is some deep meaning in the wall behind the paint chips or something--then it was worth the scrutiny, but if it's just to see the paint peeling, that can be said in one line. I like having the detail. Don't just rush me through. But I don't want to spend all day inside the cathedral if the real story is out back with the pigeons.

Kasie West said...

Love the pic. And yes, too many details can definitely bog down a story, but just enough brings it to life. Finding the balance is the hard part.

lotusgirl said...

Kasie, Writing is, indeed, a balancing act.

Robyn said...

It's all about finding the right balance. And what a beautiful pic.

My MG novel is set in NC's Blue Ridge Mountains and I have to hold back, because I could go overboard with detail! It would be a very easy thing to do.

Moderation even in chocolate? SHOOT! *shakes her head*

Crimogenic said...

Moderation in all things, except wine :)

The Things We Carried said...

It is such a fine line to find for a writer, isn't it? I love details and yet don't want to bog or be bogged down!

lotusgirl said...

Robyn, The Blue Ridge! Gorgeous details to be had. Sounds like something I'd love to read.

Crimey, Even in wine!

Things, bogging is bad, isn't it?