We all know the importance of details, how they can make or break a poem, essay, or story. But what details do you have the hardest time with? For me it’s colors. I’m completely colorblind. Colors are hard for me to write because I don’t have natural associations to work with, so I often end up with either stereotypes or weird associations. As an undergrad I wrote something where a female character had green eyes. My professor asked me why and I said because I thought green eyed women sounded seductive. My professor laughed. For a long time. Because of this difficulty when I do find a color reference that works well I tend to use it a lot.
So what kind of details get you hung up?
8 thoughts on “Details, Details”
I recognize there’s a problem in what I’m writing if I realize a detail is interchangeable. I’m sure I have other problems with details too, but this is a rule of thumb. It usually means that how I’m saying it has been given less priority than what I’m saying; form has been unduly sacrificed for content.
I like green eyes. People hardly ever have them.
for sure, if it can be just anything then what’s the point!
Honestly, I think just about every female character I’ve written as a love interest has green eyes. The last one, I consciously gave brown eyes, just to break the trend.
As for details I get hung up on, I can never write a good sex scene. Ever. It’s either too much or too little. I think somebody posted something a while ago about contemporary writers having trouble writing sex scenes compared to somebody like Philip Roth. I can’t do it. I wind up making more of an allusion to what happened than what really happened. It’s like a Hitchcockian suggestion, an outline, rather than anything currently at the movies.
sex scenes are tricky. i’ve been told i do them well, which is flattering in a weird way (but there’s nothing more awkward than sitting in workshop group and being told that your scene got a guy hard). i was told by my thesis adviser during my mfa not to write sex scenes, which i took as a challenge. and since he was fond of writing messed up ones, i tried to learn from him.
have you read Steve Almond’s essay on writing sex scenes? it’s hilarious and very helpful.
I haven’t. But I’ll check it out. I love reading Almond’s articles.
if you have trouble finding it (which i don’t think you will), let me know. i have a copy saved on my laptop at home.
Thanks, Ryan. I just found it in a bunch of different places: Boston Phoenix, Nerve.com, Utne Reader, etc. “Remember that fluid is fun.” I love it.
yeah it’s been reprinted a ton. glad you found it! i read it out loud to my wife and was barely intelligible due to the laughter.