Detail or not to detail?

My wife and I have an argument. She reads much more than I, so I constantly ask her opinion on stories we read together or on ones that I write. Do readers want a verbose book? I have read some stories where the detail is very, very detailed. I have an active imagination, so I can visualize a story in my mind. The detail seems to me as its only purpose is to add filler to present a book with 1,100 pages. Do many readers buy a book based on pages and weight? Is it psychological for a reader to feel comfortable with the price they pay?

I am a member of Toastmasters International which is an organization dedicated to helping people draft and present better speeches, inspire, educate and become leaders. One of my projects was titled “Get to the point.” Do readers prefer long stories with enormous detail, or get to the point with enough detail to form a visual in their mind? Can readers in the modern era actually use their own imagination? For example, get to the point might be something like this:

“John walked across the grass lawn barefoot.”

Now let’s add detail

“John walked across the grass lawn barefoot. The Bermuda grass had been cut the day before and the sprinkler system, which ran over the early morning hours, left the grass smooth, moist and soft to the touch on his bare skin.”

This second narrative is a 550% increase in words. Obviously some extra detail is absolutely necessary to a story, but are authors guilty of padding? Are detailed narratives necessary for the reader to activate the sensory processors?

This is a serious question I ask, and one I hope that you as a reader, or author will reply to. I believe in adding detail only when and where it adds to the quality of the story.

This entry was posted in Writing.

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