D is for Details

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?

 

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24 thoughts on “D is for Details

  1. I think what you’re saying is give prose to where it matters. I love reading really good prose (although I can’t think of any off the top of my head) but I cannot write detailed prose to save my life. Hopefully my life never depends on that, lol.

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  2. Miss Izzy I once had a character decide to have their way with their companion in the kitchen and covered the predicament of a cluttered kitchen by describing the act of one sweeping arm gesture to create a space.
    You are right there are many wonderful writers out there. David Malouf an Australian author comes to mind for a novel he wrote ‘An Imaginary Life’ about the life of Ovid. I have read it a few times and always marvel at the lyrical nature of his prose.

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  3. Joanne Harris – author of Chocolat, Blackberry Wine etc. Jeanette Winterson – Written on the Body – in particular.

    These are 2 authors that I think can write just about anything with such a sensuality to their work, it’s incredible. Yes, there is a difference between writing an explicit or more detailed sex scene – but as the saying goes – the act of seduction begins long before the action begins. And in some respects, it is in the details – but a very good writer knows how to craft and weave a spell.

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  4. Nothing will make me stop reading faster than description for no reason. Atmosphere is nice but I don’t want to drown in it. Plus, some of the fun of reading is getting to imagine the scene without being told how it looks.

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