It’s a topic that has come up in a couple places recently, which made it sort of obvious that maybe it was something that needed to be addressed on a larger scale.
- How much detail is TOO much?
The first instinct is to say that there can never be too many details – the better picture we paint with our words, the better our readers can understand our characters and immerse themselves in the world we have created. On the other hand there are authors like George R.R. Martin, who while being perfectly marvelous at their craft – sometimes just don’t know when enough is enough. Yes George, we’ve already been down the road to King’s Landing (more than once even), you don’t need to tell me about it AGAIN. Or as a friend likes to ask – Does he ever shut up about the food?
In any case there is clearly a time when less is more, or at least a point where the reader doesn’t need to be shown every single rock and pebble, or condensation drip on the rim of a glass, unless it’s absolutely central to moving the plot along.
- As a reader – would you rather read a book that was too detailed, or one that was maybe a bit more on the sparse side?
Personally I’d prefer too little (if I had to choose one over the other), BUT I’m also a very visual person, so it doesn’t always take much for me to envision something based on very little description. For others, having a perfectly crafted setting – down to the last floor tile, might be something that works better. It’s often hard to find a good mid-point.
Which begs the question… at what point does the line between the perfect amount of detail and oh dear gods please stop, start to blur? Or is it something that we each have to judge for ourselves, and hope for the best?
Seriously asking, so please feel free to comment. I’d love to hear your thoughts!