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?