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Details and the Story

13 October 2010 No Comment

By Helen Kaiao Chang

See original story on AboutFreelanceWriting.com

A universe of details. Picking them out like stars in the night sky.

That’s what it was like reading a potential client’s draft, as I rewrote it for her. Her journal was like a huge Panavision camera that picked up every random detail of each event. What time it was, how she used to hate her relative, what joke was told, how she got to the place.

All these facts could be critical pieces in a compelling narrative. But in a universe of details, everything gets bogged down. Nothing seems interesting. Nothing is compelling. It’s a primordial soup of existence.

My job was to pick out the salient details and weave them into a compelling story. That’s what non-professional writers hire me to do. But it was a good reminder for my own writing, too.

Don’t get lost in the uninteresting. Don’t give the reader a compendium of facts. Focus on the story and its direction. Add details to enhance the story, not overpower it.

Follow Helen on Twitter @HelenChang.

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