The Power of Details in Writing

I was still as I absorbed the impact of her statement. “You’re moving.” I said, flatly. I sounded calm to myself, as though I was observing the scene and someone else was doing the talking. Inside, though, my heart was suddenly heavy and sank down into my stomach so that they both combined to form a big chunk of granite. I felt sadder than I could have ever expressed. Denver – it may as well have been China – a whole world away. A powerful wave of emotion rose up from my toes and rushed towards my eyes.

Although I wanted her to stay, I wanted her to be happy in her new life more, the new life she had worked so hard for. I shuddered as every cell in my body joined in a concerted effort to stop a flood of tears. Finally it became merely a stinging wet glaze filling my bottom eyelids.

“Sister,” it crept out as a whisper. I gathered up my composure and cleared my throat. “Sister” I began again “when would you be leaving?” From her I had learned the value of support in friendship. I would not let her down.

The location of the game and names of the teams are given, and details of the conversation and what the girls are doing or what they were feeling. I’m sure you would agree that Version #2 would be much more memorable.

There is no big secret to good scene writing and following these simple steps will help you in your efforts:

Research, Research, Research

The internet makes this a little easier than in days of old! If you want to write a story about a town or place you’ve never been to, get on the internet and call up the website of the Chamber of Commerce or Tourism Bureau for the area.

These sites are always loaded with factual information about cities and counties – including average temperatures & precipitation. They show pictures so that their areas will be appealing and encourage visitation. They also have business directories and area businesses will frequently provide click links to their own Web sites, on which they usually tell you something about their history.

Who founded them and when? How long they’ve been operating and what about their products? Some sites will even have maps so that you can get correct street names. This is valuable information for fictionalizing.

If, for example, your book or story is going to be a sweeping family drama the likes of Dallas or Falcon Crest, you may take some inspiration from these real-life corporations and the people who made them to create the families and empires of your fictional universe. If you are writing about things from the past, statistical and historical websites abound. Local information on past events can always be researched in a local library’s daily newspaper’s microfilm file. If the setting of your story in not in your local area, more and more U.S. libraries are adding archival search features to their websites these days.

Tap Into Your Feelings

To make the characters as real as possible to the reader, they must be real, not just cardboard cutouts who move through the scenes. A person can not just stand there while waiting for a door to open. She must stand there with her stomach in a knot. Or be standing there, trembling with fear because he has been caught in a room he’s not supposed to be in and doesn’t know who’s on the other side of the door.

A good way to capture these emotions and feelings is to remember how you, yourself, felt in times of fear, stress, sadness and joy. When your face flushed during embarrassment, did it feel warm too, or just tingle?

Another way is to talk to others and ask about their feelings and how an incident made them feel. The characters in your story should have a wide range of emotions and feelings in their universe – because if they could step off the page to join us, they certainly would need them in ours.