As writers, we hear all the time, "Show, don't tell." For a lot of us, we have a difficult time grasping what that really means. (Or maybe it was just me that had this problem.)
Mr. Wilbers gives great examples of this. "Next time you write, ...'My boss really liked my report,' don't stop there." Go on to give details: "[I]n last Tuesday's staff meeting George held up [my] report on quality control, taped each of its five pages to the whiteboard, uncapped a yellow felt-tipped marker, and drew a big star on each page."1
You don't even have to state that your boss liked your report. You just showed it. When we revise, we can look for opportunities to add detail, to give our stories dimension and bring our readers in.
Writing with detail isn't just about adding information. Think about Week One and the importance of words and using the right words for the right effect. Use strong verbs when adding detail.
Consider: "News of our bosses departure affected all of us."
Before scrolling down, think how you can improve that sentence.
Here's mine: Whispers flew from desk to desk. 'Did you hear?' 'What will we do?' Delores, the beehived-receptionist with special shoes, sniffled into her box of Kleenex. The ever-cheerful guy in maintenance patted her on the back as he sneaked a tissue.
Here's one from the book: "When our boss announced he was leaving, we stomped our feet, pounded the table with our fists, and raised our voices in a chorus of unbridled joy and celebration."2
1. Mastering the Craft of Writing, pg 10.
2. Mastering the Craft of Writing, pg 12.
TAMARA: Details, details. Maybe the devil is in them because he knows that’s where all the important (juicy) tidbits are…
I’ll give it a go:
“He listened to me, but I didn’t feel heard.”
How about this?
“He listened to me while he checked his phone for messages. He even reclined a bit further in his chair like he was settling in for a nap. No eye contact, not even a nod of his head. No wonder he doesn’t remember what I say.”
“She picked up her backpack and left. My life went with her.”
“She picked up her Jan Sport, the one we shared through 11th grade; the one we used to write one-word messages to each other on the inside, with a purple sharpie marker. My life went with her.