Everyone loves action – readers and writers – we all want the Good Stuff, but then there’s Reality, you know, the boring bits, the bits we want to keep short and sweet so they won’t be boring bits, otherwise known (to me, anyway) as the Other Stuff, the necessary detail that hold reality together.
Description. Details. Background stuff.
Detail counts, you can say a lot with a mundane detail. By that I mean something short, a word here or a sentence there, I don’t mean every single detail. One or two words will do it without exaggerating the whole to the extent it takes over the story.
From book 1 in the Khekarian series, how much information did you need to realize that lovely Sasha is basically an empty-headed, big-busted nymphomaniac and every teenage boy’s pinup dream girl? You didn’t need (and didn’t get) her life history. A handful of lines and you got the lot, dimples, nudity, goddess proportions, everything.
How long did it take you to realize that Sevi was a woman not to be messed with, a level-headed and highly capable soldier?
Okays, I know, they’re not the boring bits.
How about the road teams? The Good Guys and the Bad Guys aren’t just sitting around waiting for the fight to start, right? What are they DOING? They are working, that’s what, they are collecting merchandise and delivering essentials to the towns and other settlements on a newly colonized world. Their job gives them their situation and enables the circumstances that brings about adventure. Great. That means that detail can’t be neglected, although it doesn’t actually matter what it is they are delivering or picking up. There’s enough there that spells out long distance and isolation, that’s all that’s needed.
What I want to capture with the sort of detail I’m talking about is a sense of that essential reality that forms the base, the backdrop, the lives of the people I’m writing about. An unrelated example: You get a better sense of a waitress’s working life if you know she has sore feet.