I do love a detail. I feel cheated when a character in a book I'm reading has a birthday and I don't get to know what all the presents are. Consequently, since I don't want to cheat the readers I hope to have one day, I give them detail. If there's a party scene, I want to tell about the presents, the decorations, the food, the booze, and everybody's reaction to all of it. Since I love dialogue, I also want to include several sections of conversation about the party between secondary characters—some that I have just made up on the spot. Plotter loves a detail too. She calls it needing the information to make the movie in her head. She, however, has a more realistic view of how much of this nonsense a reader can tolerate.
I blame my mother. She loved details and loved to relate them. For instance, when she went out to lunch and shopping with friends, she would not only tell me what everyone ate and bought, but what they almost ate and bought. Then, she would go into everyone's opinion of all these consumptions and purchases. Finally, she would tell me what they were going eat and buy next time. Sound excruciating? It wasn't. It made me what I am today: A loquacious slave to detail. You notice, I didn't say the world was a better place for it.
This is particularly on my mind right now because Plotter and I are editing our work in progress. This means that the Word Count Monster is haunting me day and night. I've heard people say excitedly, "I just lack ten pages!" With us, it's more like, "We only have ten pages left! Please, God, let us get through the story!"
This is our first foray in the world of category fiction and all the brevity it brings. We can only have 60,000 words. Last month, Smarty Pants, over at the Writing Playground said to me, "You? 60,000 words? Not going to happen." (Notice I did not say where we were and what we were wearing when she said that to me. I'm making progress.)
The manuscript is done now—from the first sign of conflict, through everybody's black moment, to happily ever after, and epilogue. Word count: 62,133. Plotter's got her summer aqua gel pen out and is hard at work. In truth, the word count in probably fine. It's only a little over and those who know, say not to get too wrapped around the axle about it. But I know what Plotter is thinking: "If I give her an inch, she'll take a mile." She's probably right.
Do you like a lot of detail? Do you tend to write long or short?