Sunday, October 2, 2011

Little to Report and Other Literary Ramblings

There has been very little going on in my life, literary wise. I was home this weekend, grabbing some things for a my dorm and spending time with the parental units. We made peanut butter cookies, talked about classes and the movies we've seen recently (Me - Thor, Them - Paul), and generally ate until I wanted to collapse into a ball on my bed. It was nice being the only one sleeping in a bedroom. Nice and quiet and uncluttered.

What I've been thinking about, book wise, it was makes a novel realistic. I'm thinking mostly of Jodi Piccoult and Nora Roberts in this case. They really do their research, and add those tidbits that bring you into a scene so it wraps you up like a blanket. For instance, instead of saying "They made cookies, spilling ingredients everywhere." they say, "They made oatmeal raisin cookies, spilling flour and nutmeg on the linoleum floor."

Much more specific. George R. R. Martin does the same thing, describing the importance of the different kinds of clothing and weapons, and how these things indicate the world the characters live in, and what it means about the character.

I've noticed that in many young adult books, and even in some cases, fantasy, that these little details are left out. And I wonder, neutrally since these are books I love, if this is due to lack of research or simply that those details would be excessive and do nothing to further the story.

What do you think? Are those little details important to make a story realistic, or are they excessive?


  1. I think it's partly pacing. Is it important that the floor is linoleum rather than ceramic; does it matter that the cookies were oatmeal raisin and not peanut butter? It depends on what the information is needed for. If we need to know that it's a linoleum floor because five pages later the MC gets slammed into it and only avoids a concussion because it wasn't ceramic, then sure, that detail's important. If we need to know that they're oatmeal raisin because Supporting Cast hates raisins and decides not to have one during their quick snack break on the hike and ends up suffering a sugar low and fainting later, then that's important. But if neither are important, then adding the details slows the pacing down.

    Which isn't necessarily a /bad/ thing, but it's been my experience that YA novels aren't usually slower-paced. With the exception, perhaps, of Robin McKinley. Adult novels, on the other hand, are, in my experience, mostly slower-paced. With the exception, perhaps, of Janet Evanovich and similar. Since I got into YA in a big way a couple years ago, I've found it hard to go back to adult novels because they feel so sluggish in comparison. I guess I've become a speed junkie.

    And speaking of speed (or lack of it, in my case) I should have a critique for you in a day or two. Loved the MS. Glad to know there's a sequel in the works, after that ending, though! ;)

  2. I'm glad you liked it, Seabrooke! Can't wait to hear your suggestions and read your MS.