Paying attention to detail


I’ve  been thinking about this a lot lately, especially with all the different news (both good and bad) being thrust at us willing readers over the past few weeks.  It’s easy to get lost in the maelstrom, easy to get frustrated and scared and react the only ways we know how in such situations.

As a writer, I’ve tried to train myself to be a bit distant from it all.  Not exactly indifferent, mind you.  Just detached enough so I can keep a calm and open mind.  Too much information and I get overwhelmed.  Too close to the information and I let my emotions get the best of me.  But at the same time…being aware of the multiple threads and knowing how to use them in a positive and/or creative way.

The same can be said with writing novels.  There are quite a lot of moving parts, so it requires a lot of attention.  This is not just about the detail, but how it all interweaves. Plot Point A causes Plot Point B to take place.  Character 1 is affected by Plot Point B and has to take action, causing Plot Point C to unfold, which affects Character 2.  And so on.  However it works for you: index cards, Post-Its, spreadsheets, reams of paper, or your own brain.

Some writers only want to use the barest of detail.  Just enough to tell the story.  And that’s just fine; not every novel needs all that minutiae.  At the same time, there still needs to be attention to detail by the writer.  There has to be that continuity of not just the plot but the characters and the setting.

The downside is that writers can often fall into their own hole of that minutiae.  Getting too lost in the maelstrom of the world building or the overly convoluted plot.  Making every single scene, action or no, the Most Important Event Ever in the story.  I’m guilty of all of these, of course.  I’ve been known to obsess over sections of my work that really don’t need much detail at all.  Sometimes my blog posts go the same way.  Heh.

But anyway, my point is that the trick is to find the balance levels that work for you.  Pay attention to what needs paying attention to, and remember that there’s rarely need for obsession.  Use just enough to create a stable and navigable web where every point has a reason and a destination.  And once you’re done?

Then pull back and view it as a whole.  If you’ve done it right, you’ll have created that much larger piece of art you were aiming for.

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