Details and the Writing Life

Details, observing and recording specific details adds richness to our writing and our lives.

For example, you can describe the skin of an old woman in many ways. However, of the following two, which is more resonant with meaning?

She was wrinkly.


She had skin that looked like crepe paper, ridged, crinkled and brittle, but to the touch it was like the petal of a newly opened rose.

Details give life and breath and physicality to your written world, and they don’t have to be exotic to add layers of associations and depth.

Natalie Goldberg discusses details in Writing Down the Bones. Her words give hope to any novice writer who thinks she had to undertake a grand adventure or experience some hideous trial in order to have something interesting to say.

Original details are very ordinary, except to the mind that sees their extraordinariness. It’s not that we need to go to the Hopi mesas to see greatness, we need to view what we already have in a different way….If we see their lives and festivals as fantastic and our lives as ordinary, we come to writing with a sense of poverty. We must remember that everything is ordinary and extraordinary. It is our minds that either open or close          ~Natalie Goldberg, p. 75

Open your mind to some details today. See if they explode the mundane to superlative.