Do you guys watch The Big Bang Theory? 

Have you seen the episode, titled The Loobenfeld Decay? I tried to find a cc licensed clip but had no luck, so you guys are stuck with my brief summery. In short, Leonard makes up a lie to get out of watching a play Penny is performing in. The lie is pretty simple. Sheldon decides it's a bad lie and makes up a huge story about a cousin named Leo (made up) who needs a drug intervention. He even hires someone to be Leo and the lie just gets more and more convoluted. 
Sheldon's main reason for this, as he tells Leonard, is that "details make the lie."

Why am I mentioning this? Because writing  is much like creating a believable lie. No matter how much truth is in the book, the author must set the scene, must bring it to life. That requires details.
Let's say you are writing about a girl sitting in a cafe. She's crying. Your character notices her.  show us the details. Make-up smeared across the face is a pretty common (and true) characterization for crying women. Go deeper. Are her eyelashes clumped together from sticky mascara? Do the tears change the color of her eyes? Does her foundation get wet and stick together, forming little clumps? I'm sure you've seen someone having a full blown crying meltdown. It isn't pretty, is it? There's snot and sweat and tears. Show that to us. Dig for those details that bring the scene and the character into existence.

Details can be great characterization, and can sometimes even show the readers when something might be "off".  You have a character who portrays himself one way, but maybe his bitten nails indicate the presentation may not be entirely accurate.

It's also up to you to decide the details you are including. I know that for me, I don't want to write or read five pages about the design of the tables in the coffee shops. I also tend to forget about some details like clothes, unless it is pertinent to the character. As Bailey once said, my characters are always naked in my first drafts. Not really, but I never think about clothes. I will say it makes some of the scenes pretty amusing picturing them all naked.
How and when you include details will vary. I've heard some authors say that they have to focus on certain details during certain revisions, and other's state they get too bogged down in details in their first drafts. Feel free to share your thoughts with us in the comments.
Just make sure you write a believable lie, as Sheldon would say, and capture your readers in the details.

Readers, do you have any consistent details you notice? Anything you wish authors would include, or any pesky details that drive you crazy? Please feel free to share!


THANK YOU TO EVERYONE WHO TOOK INTEREST IN THE NA ALLEY POSITIONS AND WHO APPLIED! We have so many wonderful applicants. We have some tough decisions ahead of us! Seriously. Keep and eye on the blog and on your email as we will let you know who will be the newest members of our Alley team. We really appreciate everyone who took the time to apply. We're so happy that New Adult has such a fantastic and growing fan base, and that so many of you awesome people want to help the category. Thank you!





And don't forget to check out Juliana's recent post and vote for which novel to be discussed in the next NA Alley reads! 

Post a Comment

  1. Good luck to everyone who entered to be part of the NA team; I can't wait to meet the new member. :D

    With details I vary, sometimes I include too many, sometimes I don't include enough. Or, I focus on details no one cares about (food) and leave out more important characterizing details. Something I need to work on.

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    1. I know what you mean. My first drafts are always pretty bare, but sometimes I find myself focusing on weird details. But you never know, someone may love that detail that you think is pointless.

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  2. I love the Big Bang Theory and I've seen that episode. A very good analogy especially because Sheldon is my favorite. (He's everyone's favorite I think. Raj being a close second because he's just so pathetically endearing and funny tied with Leonard because he's the only one closest to being normal.)

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    1. Isn't Sheldon awesome. I just love how into this lie he got.

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  3. Love the concept of giving details counter to what the character is overtly doing or displaying. A very subtle way to let readers in on a 'secret'. And readers love secrets! :-)

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    1. Exactly! I think it can also be indicative of how well the author knows the world they created and can really aid his or her writing.

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  4. Good luck to all the applicants!

    And Big Bang Theory rocks!! <3 Sheldon!

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  5. I've never seen the Big Bang Theory!! ;) I know, shame on me. But you really put this nicely, L. Details DO make the story.

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    1. AHHH!!! SUMMER!!!!!! You must watch the Big Bang Theory!

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  6. Details are the spice of a novel. Too few, it's too bland. Too many, it's overkill. They need to be placed just right. Great post :-)

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    1. Well said, Faith. It's all about the happy medium. I know I tend to rely on certain ones too much, and others not enough. Thanks for reading!

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    1. And even thought the characters in TBBT are older than our normal NA range, I think it works quite well as an NA sitcom.

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  8. It's so true! I haven't seen this episode but Sheldon (gotta love him) is absolutely right!

    Good luck to the NA team contestants!

    I just found this blog recently... I'm so glad I did ;)

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    1. Sheldon is such a huge part of the show. I love when he tries to smile politely and when he says Bazinga! (or however it is spelled).
      Thanks for stopping by and reading. We're glad you found the blog!

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  9. I remember about that naked comment lol
    You're right. We're all liars!
    Okay, now ... don't kill! I never watched TBBT! *hides*

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    1. Haha, yes. I always forget clothes. But it does make some scenes more...steamy...lol. I'm going to have to make you have a TBBT marathon!

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  10. Great post! I've also never *clears throat* seen the show, but now you've peaked my interest!

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  11. All I can think of now is "the devil is in the details"--I guess that's true, but in a good way :) Love that your naked characters comment, I'm terrible about clothes pretty much right until the end, haha!

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    1. Good point. It's true! Yes, I am horrible about clothes. Unless it pertains to the character in an extreme way, I always forget about them. Guess I'm just not much of a "fashion" person, myself.
      Thanks for reading and commenting!

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    1. Thanks, Melissa! I appreciate you reading it!

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  13. I'm terrible about descriptive details in my first draft; it's always something I have to go back and add. While editing my book for the fourth or fifth time, it finally occurred to me that I had no idea what my main character looked like physically. I mean, I could tell you basic body details (slim, medium height, etc.), but I couldn't tell you what color her hair was. It's just not something I pay attention to.

    Also, much love for TBBT reference!

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    1. Hi Tobi. I totally know what you mean. I'm the same way. I typically have to add certain descriptive details in later drafts. Thanks for reading!

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  14. I love fresh details in writing. It really makes the scene pop in my mind. Once I read how a character got so embarrassed that it felt like she'd stuck her face in a furnace. It was such a vivid image, I never forgot it! It doesn't have to be spectacularly unique or well-phrased, I think, to make an impact. :) Great post.

    Adriana Ryan
    http://www.adrianaryan.com

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    1. That is a great point. As much as we need description and details, we need a fresh take on things. Sometimes that can be hard but it is so worth it once you get it. I think it's easy for authors to fall into using the same thing over and over again. I catch myself doing it, so I have certain descriptive words I have to hunt and kill when editing. Thanks for reading!

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