Thursday, April 1, 2010

Details, Details, Details!

I've been working on my work-in-progress YA novel, Land of No Angels, a bit over the last few days. It's been a slow process lately due to life issues and the lack of cooperation from my brain. However, during the time I stare at my manuscript vacantly and wish I could just spill my guts all over the digital page, I find myself wondering about the details.

For the most part, I can follow the "Don't think. Don't self edit. Just write." concept while working on my first draft. But sometimes, I get this idea that all of the details I add or need to add feel awkward. For example, I'm writing a scene with two sisters outside in a some-what post apocalyptic setting, who fear for their lives being out in the open and they need to hurry their conversation to get back to their safe zone. There is so much information that needs to be conveyed or even just introduced in this scene, but I find it hard to place these details and bits of information without feeling like it's too awkward. Sometimes this even happens with describing a little of the surroundings when it doesn't directly relate to the character(s) in focus.

When I try to explain things in a little more detail than "they were in a forest" and "she his under blackberry brambles" I start to get an awkward feeling. Like when you are reading a book in first person and the main character starts describing his/her own physical appearance while gazing into a mirror. Awkward! This first scene I'm working on is sort of intense and I wanted it to FEEL and READ just like the main character's breathing: short, sharp breaths that sting her lungs. Which... actually makes the scene go fast. A little too fast maybe? So the suspense isn't building properly....

Okay, so I took a break from this blog post after I had an epiphany halfway through it. I went to lunch, discussed some things with my writing partner (who also happens to be my husband) and I realised that the scene mentioned in the above paragraph wasn't working because it lacked details. While I still want it to feel like a panic attack, it can do so with some additional information to break away from the immediate action and build suspense. Not in an awkward "Hey, I thought this girl was being hunted... now we're talking about her living situation, wtf?" sort of way, but more so a "Ack! What's going to happen to her. The suspense is killing me!" sort of way. Breaking up the quick action sentences with longer description sentences will help build that tension I need.

[READER QUESTION] Do you struggle with writing details? Are you too detailed? Not detailed enough? How do you overcome these issues?

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