Amazing Kids! Magazine

It’s All in the Detail

Salma Danuningrat, Writing Tips Editor


Bestselling author Paul Auster once said, “The truth of the story lies in the details.” Details are important. They may seem small and unnoticeable but details are what bring your story to life. If your plot, characters, mood, and settings were a sketch, then your details are the colors between the lines. In other words, without details, your story is a flat, black and white photograph.

But how much detail should we put in a story? When should we describe things? How important exactly is detail? Whether you’re describing your character or writing s description of your setting, here is everything you need to know to put your writing in HD.

Filter your details – One of the most important things to remember when describing things is to not overuse your details. You don’t need to describe every single little thing, because the more details you put in, the more likely your reader will get bored with your story. For instance, don’t always say the color of a person’s hair and what they are wearing if it is not important to the story. Using your imagination and visualizing how you want your story to go is part of what makes reading fun. If you leave all the creative thinking to yourself as the author, you aren’t letting your reader use their imagination. Only use what details you think are important for the reader to know and leave the rest to their imagination.

How creative can you be? – Originality – the most important thing when writing detail. Writing descriptions is one of the best places to express your writing style. Be creative and find unexpected ways to describe something. Describe something through your senses. That description is a stepping-stone for your reader to use their imagination.

Take advantage of figurative language – Personification, metaphors, and similes – this is their moment to shine. By using figurative language, you’re adding depth to your writing. You’re going beyond your five senses. Great descriptions require a lot of creative thinking but it’s all worth it for an amazing story.

Be specific and interesting – When using descriptions, try to be as specific as you can. Instead of saying his shoes were very dirty you could say the laces of his converse had turned brown from the mud. Say your character has an obsession with chips. What kind of chips do they like? What is their favorite flavor? Don’t say a bag of chips – go for a bag of extra spicy Doritos. Instead of writing she clutched a can of soda you could say she clutched a can of Coca-Cola. Using specific and interesting details when you’re talking about a character gives your reader a chance to get to know your character – and their personality – better.

Above all, have fun when writing descriptions. Writing detail is a way for you to explore who you are as a writer and what your style is. There is no right or wrong way to describe something, for everybody sees things through a different lens. Your writing is a mirror of your own self. As Carson McCullers says, “The writer is by nature a dreamer – a concious dreamer”.