Writing Exercises

Author Aerobics: Details Challenge

Here’s this week’s Author Aerobics challenge. Answers to the challenge will be posted on Friday. If you want to participate just post a link to your entry in the comments below and I’ll update this post with links to yours. Everyone’s welcome!


Details Challenge

Short stories can be rather stark and bare unless you put in the right detail…. Details make stories human, and the more human a story can be, the better. ~ V.S. PRITCHETT  via Advice To Writers

I’ve always been leery of details. Details can easily be piled up into telling information dumps, but when details are used judiciously they can reveal crucial information about your story. Details posses the ability to “show”, rather than “tell”, and bring a sense of realism to the table.

Here’s a quick example: Paul drove his car down the street.

Let’s rethink that. What kind of car does Paul drive? What’s special about his car?

Version 2) Paul drove his 1994 Dodge Caravan down Main St. It’s left bumper sagged, and the right window had been replaced with two layers of duct tape.

That’s a little better, no? The detail’s suggest that Paul probably doesn’t have a lot of money for repairs, and he may be a careless driver.

Version 3) Paul drove his 1972 Cadilac DeVille down Main St. Despite the car’s age, there was not a single scratch on the paint job. The metal bumpers gleamed, sun kissed. They didn’t make cars like that anymore.

Paul’s still driving down Main St. but these details suggest he is likely meticulous, a collector, and knows his way around an engine.

A careful choice of details shows what kind of man Paul is. They do more than just set the scene.

That’s just a little food for thought when it comes to the sweating the small stuff. You may have tricks of your own, but I just try to remind myself to think specific. As always, it’s easier said than done.

This week’s challenge: Write a scene (1000 words or less) that is peppered with specific details. The theme:  “reflections.”



This week’s challenge seekers:

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