Sunday, February 8, 2009

The Odd Detail

Often times it's the little things that make a scene. Some writers manage to take fantastic events and ground them in the here and now with the introduction of an almost casual detail that uses some item familiar to the reader. (Stumbling over a case of a familiar beer while fleeing zombified co-eds or something, for example. Which strikes me as a good idea for a story somewhere laden with irony.) There is the risk when using actual products of making a particular work dated later on, of course, such as the Pan-Am flight in 2001.

At least I think it was 2001. If this blog had actual readers I'd be concerned about expecting a backlash of corrective emails, but I figure by the time I actually have readers this will be buried so far back that no one will notice.

Which, yes, means I'm essentially talking to myself here. In theory it helps the creative process. In practice I suspect I'm just nuts.

However, now that I've wandered far afield, little details can also establish not only a certain ambiance but also contribute toward characterization. A farm with a dog is not unusual, after all, but a farm where the farm dog is a Pekinese is rather unusual. Now it might just be that the little dog is the family pet, one of many dogs including some that are more traditional farm dogs. Or maybe the people who own the farm are Chinese. Or perhaps the tiny dog is on the farm for a specific reason, such as to chase rats down tunnels (which is what dachsunds were bred for, I think - again there would be corrective backlash if I had readers. I would look this up and verify it if it was important or going into a story or something, but it's really rather more than I want to do at the moment).

It's these little things that can be just as important as the big things, and one reason why, I think, they say the devil is in the details.

Which is also a good idea for a story....

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