Details, Details; or, Adding The Highlights

(Post-A-Day Challenge, Day 8)

One of the things I am trying to do on my current edit pass on Book 1 of the Winterbourne series is to add in some of the little details that will help bring the story to life.

Often, when I’m writing a story, I’m in too much of a rush to capture the essence of the scene on paper (well, okay, in bytes) to attend to all of the little details.  So little things like smells and sounds, unless they are essential to the story, tend to get left out.

And on my earlier edit passes, I just don’t see the point to going in and primping every scene to make it look its best when I’m not even certain that the scene is going to remain in the finished story.

But now that I’m homing in on what will be the first of several “final” drafts, it’s worth touching things up here and there to bring out the best in the story.

Which is not to say that I’m going back and adding in lengthy exposition paragraphs at the beginning of each scene to describe the setting in elaborate detail.  There are a few scenes where more detail is indeed called for, as they appear to take place in a void in deep space.  But in those cases, I’m doing my best to work setting details into the scene as it progresses.

In a lot of cases, I’m not making huge sweeping changes.  In one scene Celia notices the smell of coal smoke clinging to her father’s clothing; in another, I add the word “grimy” to the description of a train-station platform.  We now know that there are narrow, cobblestone streets in Oxford, instead of just “streets”.

And in some cases, it’s a matter of word choice.  If I can have a character “shuffle” rather than “walk dejectedly,” it’s clearer, more vivid…and saves me a word on my word count.

The other problem I’m planning to address, related to this, is that of Amazing Disappearing Characters.  But that, my friends, is a topic for another day.

How do you “primp up” your work?  What are some tricks you’ve used for bringing a scene to life?

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About sheilamcclune

Aspiring author, sharing the tidbits I've learned along the way.
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