UncategorisedUsing specific detail to bring your writing to life | The Editing Lounge

Adding detail is essential to writing great fiction. But how specific is the detail in your manuscript? 

If I had received a pound for every time one of my writing tutors circled a phrase in my fiction with a note saying ‘specific detail please’ during my MA days, I’d be rich. There are likely lots of places where you can delve deeper and offer more specificity in your drafts too.

What are specific details and why are they important?

A specific detail is a descriptive detail that a writer has grounded in specificity.

Rather than using abstract language to describe people, settings, and events on a conceptual level, concrete language conjures clear pictures in your readers’ minds. 

That’s not to say you should always avoid abstract language in favour of concrete language. It’s about finding a healthy balance between the two.

That said, the clarity of specific details is more likely to trigger a personal response in a reader than a generic description. This makes the writing more engaging, vivid, and likely to elicit an emotional reaction from readers. 

What are specific details and why are they important? | The Editing Lounge

Examples of specific detail

Examples of specific detail | The Editing Lounge

You can lace your manuscript with specific detail at even the tiniest levels. For example, ‘dog’ could become ‘greyhound’, ‘silver necklace’ could become ‘diamond choker’, and ‘wine’ could become ‘Sauvignon Blanc’. 

When you paint pictures with words, you can lace your writing with originality and make it easier for readers to visualise your scene. 

If you need help with specific detail, have a look at my line editing service.

About Charlotte

Charlotte McCormac | Line Editor | Copyeditor | Content Writer | Shrewsbury | Oswestry

Charlotte is an award-winning writer and line/copyeditor who writes and edits for clients all over the world. She also works on the fiction team for Ambit, a UK literary and arts magazine. 

She holds an international literary prize from Hammond House Publishing Group, two writing-related degrees, various marketing certifications, and training certificates from the Chartered Institute of Editing and Proofreading, of which she is a Professional Member.

Charlotte’s work has appeared in several anthologies, magazines, and literary journals, including IndigomaniaDream Catcher, and The Curlew

She has also created a series of free self-editing cheat sheets to help new writers hone their fiction before sending their work off to a professional editor.

CIEP | Professional Member | The Editing Lounge