Tuesday, January 22, 2008

It's all in the details

Sometimes it's the little things that really make a book come alive.

Last spring we had a yard sale at the church and there, on a table, was a shoebox with some navy shoes inside. When I looked closer I realized there was something written on the box..."1930". I asked about them and it was confirmed that these were vintage shoes. They did not fit my feet, but there was something about them. I paid the 10 dollars and put them in my bag because I knew there was a story in the shoes.

Then I wrote The Italian's Surprise Proposal, and then I wrote a proposal for another book, and still no story for the shoes.

But then my editor called me and asked for another cowboy and ideas started coming. Suddenly I had a cowboy and a reluctant princess and a pair of vintage shoes.

Of course the story isn't focused around the shoes, but I do think they are a lovely detail - a thread that adds to the depth of the story. And that's what details do. They give you depth. My sister always e-mails me after reading one of my books and tells me her favourite part and often it's in the details. In Marriage at Circle M it was the daisies. I hadn't even planned on that being a thread in the initial stages. But then...it all came together. In The Cowboy's Princess (the book I just handed in), I also have a song that is meaningful and provides continuity.

One of the best examples I can think of in something I read recently is Trish Wylie's RETURN OF THE REBEL (Released in March by Presents in NA as At The Billionaire's Bidding) and the heroine's penchant for smart ass t-shirts. They weren't just thrown in...they added to the story. I loved those details.

The details are what makes a story memorable, and takes it from a good story to something special and great.

What books have you read lately, and what details stick in your mind making that book special?

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous6:11 p.m.

    carolc said...

    There was a saying I read in 'The Kiterunner' over two months ago which has stuck in my head and I just can't shake.

    'For you a thousand times over.' I'm not sure if it's exclusively an Afghan saying but it speaks so strongly of cultures where people are more expressive and open. My father in law is Moroccan and it's exactly the sort of thing I can picture him saying and meaning.

    Great to catch up on your blog again, I've been so busy lately I've been denying myself the pleasure of blog hopping but will be sure to pop in more often.