Adding Missing Details

It happens to the best of us, we write in a fevered dream during the first draft, and then the hard cold reality of editing, rewriting, and revising takes place. We look at those sentences we once thought was elegant prose and realize it is a mishmash of word ish thingies that don't really describe anything at all. Most of all, you said you walked into a bar, and no idea what kind of bar it is. The mood, so clear inside your head when you wrote it, simply isn't inside the scene. You would have sworn it was there. Did some word gremlin come and eat that description up while you weren't looking? Your cloud lost it, right?

We've all been there. This is why we edit. Details paint the word picture, details set the tone, details present the dinner and sweeten the desert. So here a few things to think about while you are whipping your novel into shape.

Sight: What does it look like? What material is it made of? Color, shape, size, texture, mood? What affect is the weather having on it?

Touch: What does it feel like? What are the weather conditions? What texture is it? Does it feel rough or smooth? Does it evoke an emotional memory?

Sound: It is loud or quiet? What is the tenor of the sound? What is making the sound? What is the emotion of the sound?

Taste: Often overlooked, but a very important part of the world. If your character is eating, they need to be tasting. Taste is also closely related to smell, so much so that strong odors come with a taste component.

Smell: Did you know that smell is most closely linked sense with memory? That's one important thing to make sure you link into your details. Pick a scent, any scent, and it will take your character back in time. Not only that, smells, both good and bad, are frequently an important part of any experience. So, don't forget to add the smells.

Those are the things in the physical world, now onto character details to make your characters come alive.

Scars: Don't forget to add them, don't forget to write a great backstory for them, don't be afraid to create a few.

A physical feature your character likes: We all like something about our own body, let the reader see what your characters like about theirs.

A physical feature your character hates: We all hate, loathe, and in general would change with surgery something about our body, it's one of the most relatable things. Think of Anne Shirley in Anne of Green Gables, she hates her red hair, so much so that she tries to dye it black and it turns out green. A minor plot point that furthers two aspects of Anne's character in one fell swoop, her sensitivity about being red headed and her propensity to get into scrapes because she frequently leaps before she looks.

Something in the world your character loves or hates. Take every opportunity to flesh out your characters.

An inside joke. Write it correctly, and your fans will love you for it. It makes them a part of the world.

What are your favorite details that you nearly forgot to add to your work?


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