Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Coke ain't small stuff

Small stuff.
            This weekend Justin and I were out shopping, and we had worked up a thirst. He disappeared while I waited in line, and he brought back a real Coke—sugar and caffeine and cold and bubbly and delicious...my own personal happy juice!
            He knows I love Coke Classic. So with me in mind, he selected it instead of his usual Pepsi. I’m telling you folks, it’s all about the small stuff.

I’m reading Elmore Leonard, and that man has a way with the small stuff. Although we don’t get a great deal of detail and description, what he does include is impactful. A well bred woman on the run with a bank robber carries the gun he gave her in a crocheted purse that her mother made. The bad guy steals an ice cream cone from a young man, takes a few licks, leaving ice-cream clinging to his mustache.
Those details help define the characters.

Are details small stuff?
Details are enormous. I may forget which book it’s written in, but I can tell you the detail that made it real and dragged me into the story. Last summer I read a book in which a man was naked and walking around on a sail boat. That’s when I was introduced to the term “hanging hog.”
I couldn’t tell you the name of the book or the author either one, but that detail has stayed with me.

Sweating the details is exhausting.
It’s because details are so important that we have—and will continue to spend—
so much time and energy rewriting and re-rewriting. Larry and I had written our story, and then revised it before we ever took it to the critique group. It’s been through group, and we’re revising again. Then there’ll be Beta readers, we’ll revise, then there’ll be more Beta readers and more revision. Then it has to pass through both of us again before we hawk our wares to agents and editors who will most assuredly ask for…you got it, more revision.
Yes, the small stuff is enormous
Yes, we’re sweating the small stuff.
Yes, I need to start keeping Coke in the fridge instead of Pepsi.

It’s all about the details.

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