Details. They’re where the devil resides. For to know where to start and where to stop is a devilish conundrum indeed. I once read a sex scene in a self-published romance ebook during which the heroine, hot under the collar, drags the object of her desire up the stairs to her room… and you know where it’s going from there.
Except I didn’t. You see, the scene was from the perspective of the man. He wanted her, badly, but he was a little confused as to why. I think the author was too, since she stopped the steamy scene in the doorway of the bedroom while he took note of every … single … little … detail … of the furniture before getting on with the sex.
It doesn’t really matter what the action is, does it? You don’t slow down a car chase to describe the buildings, you don’t watch the bullet fly through the air unless you’re in the Matrix, and you don’t worry if the drapes match the rug unless you think maybe she lied about dying her hair.
The really great details are the ones that give a story atmosphere. The buildings that the hero drives past are a blur in his periphery; the thunk of the axe as it’s driven into the wall right beside the good guy’s left shoulder; the musty smell of the sleeping bag when they finally fall drunkenly on top of one another in the tent.
There are some really great authors out there who are famous for the richness of their prose. Do you have a favourite?