Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Lessons from Angry Birds: Details

How many details do you put in your novel? Do you describe the textured walls or leave that out? What about the tattered, stained carpets?
No reader wants to spend page after page reading about the room, but then again, they also don’t want to feel like they are in a white box with nothing around the characters.
Details give the reader a sense of where the characters are. The way you describe things can show things about the characters based on what they observe and how they describe it.
But how much is too much and how much is not enough?
The answer can be found in Angry Birds. If you’ve ever played the game (or even just seen the game), you’ll notice that the birds don’t have any wings. That would seem to be a crucial detail that is missing. They’re birds after all!
But really, they have slingshots. Are the wings necessary?
And that is the answer to how much detail to add.
Put in only what you need. If something isn’t doing work for your story, then you don’t need it. Meaning, if the description isn’t showing the reader something important that they need to know about the setting or showing them insight into your character, then it isn’t doing anything for you.
In Angry Birds, the wings aren’t needed. The birds have a slingshot to fly. Nothing changes about the game because the birds don’t have wings. It isn’t important.
So remember with details, put in only what you need and make sure it is doing work for your story.
Happy writing.

1 comment:

  1. Good take on details, Jessica. Too much and you're overwhelmed. Too little and you're lost.