Monday, June 10, 2013


by Isabo Kelly

One of the problems with eyewitness testimony is that no two people see the exact same things when observing the same event. Often their own memories fool them and alter their recounting of what they see. But even if their memories are accurate, no two individuals will notice the same things. Sifting through all that information might be tough on those trying to solve crimes but recognizing this aspect of human perception is important for the writer. Why? Because it highlights both the importance and unique nature of details in your story.

As the writer, you will have to sort through all the possible details you might include in your fiction and then select the specific ones that are most important. Without this selective process, a writer risks going overboard with descriptions—not every sin-gle detail needs to be included in a given story. But there are specific things you want the reader to know, little details that reveal character, foreshadow a plot point, or paint a full picture of the setting. It's these choices that make each author's story unique and interesting.

All these details will be filtered through your main POV characters. Just like the eyewitnesses, your POV characters are the witnesses of the story, and the things they notice are going to be specific to them. While your heroine might notice the fluffy little dog trotting ahead of its owner through the park, your hero might notice not just the breed of the dog but the color of its leash and the clothing worn by the man walking the dog.

The difference in what each character pays attention to will result from the type of character they are, and will determine the information you can pass on to the reader. Additionally, each character will bring their own perceptions to those details. To the heroine, that little dog is a dangerous, drooling, vicious little fluff ball because she was bitten by a small dog just the year before. To the hero who happens to love dogs, the same animal is cute and cuddly with a lolling tongue and happy bark. The two people are looking at the exact same dog, but the details they use to describe the animal will be filtered through their experiences and perceptions.

All the details in a story written in deep POV should come across this way. Individual characters will bring their own distinct observations to what appears on the page. And what they notice and take note of will be the only details your readers can "see". So if your story requires the revelation of a specific detail, make sure at least one of your characters would notice that detail!

For example, your heroine didn't bother to notice the shoes of the dog walker be-cause she was too busy jumping away from the yippy little mutt. But the hero did notice the other man's shoes. And if the fact that the man had red mud on his shoes is important later in the book, and you want readers to see this detail at this moment in the story, the scene needs to be written in the hero’s POV.

The importance and significance of details suffuses every aspect of a work of fiction. The details that make up a story will be unique to the writer, unique to each character, and the best way of conveying the story in a writer's head to her readers. Pay attention to the details you use to bring your fiction to life.♥

Isabo Kelly spends a lot of time considering what details to put on the page in her science fiction, fantasy and paranormal romances. She would also like to thank her dog for inspiring the topic of this article. For more on Isabo and her books, visit her at, follow her on Twitter @IsaboKelly or friend her on Facebook

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