Details, Details—Let Those Feelings Shine Through
Well now that #RoyalWedding is officially over, it’s time to get back to writing (I’m still trying to catch up on sleep after staying up all night to watch the event live—more coffee please). One thing I learned from this royal experience was the importance of details, and all the emotions and feelings that result from them. People crave being told all the intimate details of an event, not just the who-wore-what (although the fashion details were amazing) but the backstories as well, the backstories and details that give us some hint of was being felt during the time. It’s these kind of details that are the most fascinating to me, and I, as a reader (and a writer), want more—to experience the feelings behind the details.
I believe it’s a writer’s ultimate responsibility to create the words that transform the story into mental images, giving readers the vivid details, and making them feel like they’re at the scene, feeling the same fears, doubts, love, and awe that the characters are experiencing. I’m not alone, many writer’s feel the same call of duty:
“Life is not a plot; it’s in the details.” ― Jodi Picoult
“The Devil is in the details, but so is salvation.” ― Hyman G. Rickover
“Beware the person who won’t be bothered with details.” ― William Feather
“My sense of the past is vivid and slow. I hear every sign and see every shadow.” ― Barry Hannah
“. . . most martial artists want to know how A technique is done, A seasoned Sensei will demonstrate why” ― Soke Behzad Ahmadi
The #RoyalWedding gave us plenty examples of these feeling inducing details. Stories like Meghan racing across London in a baseball cap for her clandestine meetings with her Givenchy dress designer—I can imagine and feel her excitement build as she finalizes the dress, and I can see her in my mind making mad dashes to avoid the paparazzi, keeping her dress secrets safe until her big day (Well done Meghan, big surprises for us all who were trying to predict the designer and style of the dress).
Other events and background of that day gave us more to think about. Prince Harry’s efforts to include memories of his mother Diana in many of the wedding details was heartwarming—words from a favorite hymn that made him tear up at the alter, the blue aquamarine ring he gifted to Meghan–a favorite of his mother’s. I think all of us were on edge thinking about the younger bridesmaids and pages, all under the age of 7, making their way down the aisle of St. George’s Chapel—would they make it without any mishaps or tears?
Even dear Oprah let us experience some of her panic when we learned of her having to get a bespoke (had to look this term up—it’s a British term for a custom creation) dress from Stella McCartney in 24 hours because her friend Gayle King thought her first dress’s color would clash with the bride’s. (Can you imagine having to get a custom dress made in 24 hours—I guess being a billionaire does have it’s advantages 🙂 ). Catherine recycling her Alexander McQueen dress coat (it was yellow—not ivory) for the third time made many of us smile (and of course brought out the trolls who claimed she was trying to outshine the bride).
I loved learning the history details behind Queen Mary’s tiara—the diamond bandeau in a platinum flexible band, made in 1932, with center brooch made in 1893. This will likely be the new Duchess of Sussex’s go to tiara for future events—I imagine since it was worn on her wedding day it will always have a special place in her heart. It was learning these details, and what was going on behind the scenes, that made me appreciate the wedding watching experience so much more. I wasn’t just watching and being fed straight facts—I got the backstories of what had happened, and that made a big difference to me.
One of my travel experiences illustrates some of these same points. The featured picture of the Eiffel Tower today (ok I’m still a bit under the influence of royal love) was taken in March 2017. Just looking at the picture you might think that it’s an upward shot of the tower, much like many of the pictures taken before by millions of others. The backstory here was that I was purposely aiming the camera upward to get the shot because there were haphazard, leaning, chain link fences surrounding the base of the beloved monument at that time. Security measures prohibited walking under the monument without having a ticket and being searched and screened before you were let in. I found this very sad, that a beloved world monument had been reduced to being robed in leaning chain link fences. My hand-drawn xoxo was put over this picture to remind me of that day, and give me hope that one day the fences would be removed. It’s a detail with a backstory I want to remember.
So think about these detail induced feelings the next time you write or take pictures. Take the time to document and give us the backstories so that we know and can experience what is going on, feeling the environment of the moment. Your readers will thank you, and I think you may surprise yourself too.
Crowns and Kisses,
P.S. I’ll close with one more quote, perfect way to deal with those feelings of hurt or anger (and don’t leave out any details): “When someone is mean to me, I just make them a victim in my next book.” MARY HIGGINS CLARK