Mind The Details

By Elisa Doucette | Articles | Reading Time: 2 minutes

Sep 01

Click – Click. Click – Click.

As I wandered along the sidewalk by the moat of Chiang Mai’s Old City, I was consumed by a thought.

A delicious memory that brought a goofy grin to my face and wiped my brain slate clean. Completely lost in my mind and unaware of my surroundings I could easily have been walking on a sidewalk in Maine or Seminyak. I’m lucky I didn’t walk out into traffic or directly into another wanderer.

Yet the Click – Click. Click – Click. It brought me back.

A small noise.

A simple wooden fountain outside a Thai massage parlor. With a wooden water wheel that hit against a suspended wooden block. It made a noise each time the wheel spokes knocked into the solid wood.  Click – Click. Click – Click.

My first night adventuring out from my new hotel after Jenny left, I had noted the noise somewhere in the crooks of my memory. Like a sticky in a file folder to be pulled out when necessary for reference. I note a lot of these little things. A business sign. An intersection. A flower patch in a park. The way a particular tree trunk twists as it springs up from the ground.

Details are what make the story interesting.

They separate one street from another – someone’s friend from their Aunt Mary – a magical blue amulet from a magical green one.

We’ve all been there before. Trapped in an ongoing story that is either so dry that it might as well be a military itinerary of events or so engulfed in flowery language that you want to throw up a little. When I was younger I personally wanted to go back in time and throat-punch Thomas Hardy for nearly 40 pages of exposition on the fields and moorlands of England.

Details are essentially broken down into three categories:

  • Crucial – Pivotal facts on which the story hinges (The location of the fountain in its function to alerting me to turn right to get home)
  • Significant – Give the person/place/thing their essence (A wooden water wheel outside a Thai massage parlor)
  • Enhancing – Add to the experience but unnecessary to the actual plot/drive (The Click – Click. Click – Click. sound)

Interestingly the crucial and significant details are not always the most captivating. In this case, they tell the story but they aren’t what is memorable. It is the enhancing detail – the simple inclusion – that sticks in people’s minds. The Click – Click. Click – Click.

Mind the details. They might seem like they don’t matter and can be thrown away, but that is rarely the case.

It is in the details that a beautiful story gets told.

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About the Author

Elisa Doucette is a freelance writer and editor who currently travels the world looking for great stories to live, interesting tales to share, and new ways to make words sexy. She has worked for over a decade creating compelling content and writing for various businesses and publications, including her popular column on Forbes called Shattering Glass. She is the Founder and Executive Editor here at Craft Your Content.

  • I’ve never thought to break the details into three categories.  That actually helps me think about it, as I write, to not make them too much all in one function, but to spread it out to create a more realistic feel. Cool!

    • Yeah, it is an old writing trick I learned somewhere along the way. I like structures like this, that help me to think more about the stuff I’m doing and be more intentional with it. Good writing is very intentional.