Good Monday morning. Alice Valdal here with a burning question for readers everywhere.
Can you have too much detail in a story?
Too much setting?
Too much historical fact?
The answer, of course, is yes.
In my WIP, an historical that takes place over three years, I've used newspaper snippets at the top of each chapter to show a flavour of the era and the passage of time. My first reader just flagged all of them as boring. Ouch! As a history buff, Ifind them extremely interesting. So, what do readers want? Is the price of wheat in 1903 interesting to you? It is a prairie tale
At my book club this week, there were complaints that an author had used no description of various characters. In fact, the novel in question had several female characters and we couldn't keep them straight. They seemed like mere names on the page. Now, to make a character truly come alive, we need to know about her dreams and fears and goals and motivation and conflict, but many of the readers at that meeting wanted some description of what the character looked like, too.
So, as authors who write from a variety of locales, do we fill our books with local colour? I just read a set of guidelines that stipulated the publisher wanted a mini-travelogue in each romance story. Yet others have complained that too much attention to the type of architecture or the natural flora detracts from the story.
Personally, I like to feel the heat and dust if I'm reading about Africa or the Outback of Australia. I want the crisp, clear air of the Rocky Mountains, or the salt tang of a Nova Scotia seaport.
Details, details. How much is too much?
I conceived the notion for this article while weeding in my garden. Do you appreciate this photo of Coral Bells more or less for knowing my struggle with the dandelions?
Do you want to know if my heroine has blue eyes? Do you care who was King in 1910?
For more details about me, check out my webpage at http://www.alicevaldal.com/