I’m in the process of writing my first novel, and it’s a time-consuming endeavor because I work two jobs and I’m in graduate school. However, now that I have a new Google Chromebook, I’m starting to make some headway. Having just written a new chapter, I came to a realization about what makes a book memorable to readers – details.
Many of the most effective modern authors (e.g., Ken Follett, Lee Child, etc.) write stories that resonate with readers because they pay close attention to the details. By this I mean they take great care in making sure their stories are infused with a considerable amount of specificity. Whether it’s describing the color and texture of a piece of clothing or slowly unveiling a gripping backstory for one of the lead characters, these authors understand the value in creating a three-dimensional world that readers can practically smell, taste and touch.
With this in mind, I’m making sure my novel contains a considerable amount of detail. I want readers leave my book feeling like they have a true understanding of my characters, their motivations and where they come from. That said, I realize that it’s equally important to make sure the plot doesn’t play second fiddle to the details.
When reading a book or watching a movie or TV show, what do you enjoy most about the story? Do you find the details help flesh out the characters and the situations they face, or do you think they get in the way?
I guess I like both. I like to get drawn into a new book with a new character, and then learning the details of their life and what brought them to this place in time. I know I am annoyed with single-facet characters (usually villains) for whom the only detail we get is that they were once wronged. It takes a lifetime to make a real antagonist to your protagonist, be they ‘good’ or ‘evil.’ Reward your reader with the insight of depth.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I agree; one-dimensional characters are the worst. Unfortunately, they’re in abundant supply in mediocre horror films. Without proper detail there’s no need for the reader to care whether or not a character lives or dies.