It’s All in the Details…

What makes a story really sink in and stick with you?

For me, it’s in the details. The world has to make sense; the details have to work together to build a world that I can feel, taste, see, hear and smell. Even if it’s some foreign world that I have, and will never see. I want to know the details. Why does the strange eight-legged terror sleep at night? Is it weak against light? Sees by smell? Can’t stand heat? What do the strange yellow and orange carnivorous flowers smell like that when they’re about to eat some poor creature?

Give me a basis of comparision, something that I will understand. If the the strange red fluid leaking from the flower petals smells metallic then my brain goes DING! that’s blood without the writer ever have to directly say so (subtle can be fun). But keep your details straight, nothing annoys me more than the rules suddenly changing. If your wizard can cast endless magic missile when he is attacking a swarm of cave spiders then don’t have him/her suddenly unable to summon a single spell without a reason. Your world needs set rules and guidelines that it follows. This is true no matter where your story is set (except maybe in bizarro realms where anything can happen with or without reason) and it’s great to remember that.

Take notes while you are writing to help you remember. Just jot down, ‘yellow-orange flower- metallic smell, eats meat, dangerous only at night’ in your notebook so that later your team isn’t facing down their dreaded enemy, the pink polka-dotted ant eating cactus that was a flower when the story began.

Know your terms as well. If you’re going to write about guns…get to know guns. Know what the difference between a rifle and a pistol is, what cocks and what doesn’t? How many rounds does your character’s gun hold? Same with swords, or any other weapon. Know and research before you write it out, or you can lose the reader when that gun fires off 18 bullets when it can only hold 6 shots.

What are some examples you can think of where some detail hasn’t been quite right in something you’d been reading or writing?

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