As a reader, or a writer, have you ever read something that just seemed to be….missing something? Can’t put your finger on it? Grammar looks good, plot seems okay….but…..just not quite feeling it?
This has happened to me when I’m working on my own books, or reading the unfinished manuscripts of others. Occasionally I’ll see it happen in published works as well. So, what on earth am I talking about?
Those missing details. That’s what I’m talking about. The things that give the scene life. They make the blood flow in the veins of your characters and the heart beat in your plot. Don’t ever underestimate a well placed little nugget, even something simple.
Example one: He swerved to avoid the car that veered into his lane.
OK, it’s to the point. Nothing really wrong here, tells us what is happening, right? But does it draw you in? Does it make you feel what the driver is feeling? If you can make you reader feel what the character does…you’ve succeeded. You will have a reader that will turn the page to see what happens.
Example two: The headlights shone into his face on the too dark country road. Is this car in my lane? Gripping the wheel with two large hands, his knuckles went white as he swallowed and jerked his car to the left. Gravel flying as his heart slammed into his ribs. The vehicle speed by, oblivious to the fact that they were in the wrong lane. Picking up the phone, he dialed 911.
See the difference? Details. Add a couple of sentences and suddenly you are there, in the car. Your heart is pounding and your mouth is dry. The detail of the headlights, his internal thought coupled with the action puts you in the scene, in his head.
This is where you want your reader.
I’ve heard writers say that they have trouble with this. Personally, this is what I do. I sit and imagine myself watching this happen…or maybe it’s happening to me. What’s the first thing you might notice? How is your body reacting? What is your thought? What sounds do you hear? Is there a smell?
Of course, then there is the issue of character development. The same method applies. In order to create people that are real living breathing beings in your books, you have to think this way. What kind of personality does he have? How does he react in an emergency, or when he’s angry? How does this play off of the other characters? What flaws does he have? Writing the perfect man or woman won’t get you far. People want to read about people that make mistakes, because they are real. They want to relate to your story. They want to see themselves in your characters.
However, remember one thing. Don’t take it to far. Being overly descriptive of every little nuance gets old. Page after page of little details just won’t due. You must trust your reader to use their imagination. Be descriptive, but vague. Let them carry themselves there in their minds, TRUST THEM! Otherwise, they will find themselves skimming and flipping pages to get past this never-ending description of a bedroom and back to the plot.
And there you have it. Now that you know what’s missing…take a breath and open that laptop.
Rachael Tamayo is the author of the Friend-Zone series and several short stories all available on Amazon. Her Newest release, Claim me (Finale to the Friend-Zone trilogy) will be available February 14th.