Small Details and Breathing Space

For me it’s the little details that bring a book to life – Sure, the power of the story has to be there, the adventure, the thrills and the climax, but it’s the details that breathes life into each scene and makes the characters human – Movement and action can also bring natural flow to dialogue and give breathing space.

People move when they talk. They do things. They also see things and hear things.

Imagine a scene where someone comes to a room, and at the doorway they stop and gaze at what’s within. Imagine describing that in great detail. In bygone days, when authors were paid by the word, you got a lot of detail. Pages and pages of wallpaper and paintings, curtains and furniture.

Now imagine that the character walks into the room and begins a conversation with someone already there. A conversation that is without animation and goes on and on with nothing but dialogue.

Both are deadly. A reader quickly becomes bored with the first, and feeling left out with the second. In the first they see too much, and in the second, not enough – what are they DOING while all that talk is going on?

How about a combination?


What if instead, that character comes to the room, glances quickly, taking in that it is a living room, say, with a high ceiling and a chandelier. What if they walk in then and during their conversation, they move. They look at a painting, have an opinion about it, or admire a fine porcelain figurine or poke the fire in the stately fireplace.

You see what I’m saying. Redistributed, both the first description and the following dialogue can give strength to each other. The first can animate the second and the second can add punctuation and interest to the first.

There’s a way. There’s always a way.

Happy writing, everyone!



4 thoughts on “Small Details and Breathing Space

  1. Rhino House

    “…. what are they DOING while all that is going on?” Speaking personally I’m generally trying to remember who it is I’m talking to & wondering if anybody would notice if I stabbed them to make a quick exit. You make the literary options sound much easier.

  2. EagleAye

    Words of wisdom. Straight-up dialog is boring. Straight-up description gets old fast. Put them together, and you’ve got a story that’s alive with detail, and it moves.

    1. A.D. Everard Post author

      Thanks, EagleAye. I like the idea of taking two problems, mixing them and coming up with a solution to both. It’s all too easy to get involved with the message and forget what surrounds it.


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