Making Details Purposeful

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Making Details Purposeful

Postby Margo » 11 Feb 2011, 19:25

I just had an excellent exchange on the new blog post thread and I really wanted to encourage others to throw their pennies in on the topic.

I blogged about not letting the pointless and the purposeless into a novel. No idle chatter. No coincidence. No blind luck. I also mentioned no pointless detail.

Guardian brought up these points:
Guardian wrote:The only point that with I can't agree is; MInor details. Minor details used to give color to worlds, characters, places and making these things imaginable and believable (Realism simulation.). These details doesn't have to be important at all, yet they can be in the novel anytime. These details used to give the necessary color, otherwise everything would be gray and cliche. If major details has no meaning in the story, now that's a greater problem. That's the true Chekov's Gun effect. The best way to work with minor details is to mask their presence in the story. They won't bother the reader as it's going to touch them on subconscious level.


And my thoughts were these:
Margo wrote:I absolutely agree that these details provide color and a certain depth, but I think they are more powerful if they are not random and not treated as (significantly) less important than major plot details. Though there will be variation across cultures, these details will cue certain reactions and assumptions for a reader and can take the place of telling and more blatant character descriptions. So, no they don't have to be important, but why waste the space and opportunity when more intentional choices do more than add a color or shape? It is because these details accumulate in the subconscious that I prefer not to waste them.


So what do you guys think? Is there a level of detail that is so fine or so inconsequential that you are more likely to make a random or maybe just less-than-purposeful choice about them? Is it even really possible, or do you think it's possible that subconscious meaning guides the automatic choice?
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Re: Making Details Purposeful

Postby Claudie » 11 Feb 2011, 19:39

Unless the detail you choose is completely generic, I'm not sure you can make it meaningless. Everything you mention sends a message, whether it's about your characters or your world. A girl wearing a light skirt won't be received the same way as one with comfy jeans. Her choice of clothing is an indication of her tastes.

The simple fact you take the time to mention it is a message. Perhaps you wrote your MC liked to ski as a second thought, a filler for his thoughts at some point. But when I read "likes to ski", I'll automatically conclude that this guy likes sports, doesn't mind the cold so much and can't be far from mountains if he's a regular.

While it seems possible to me to write without being careful about details, it seems like a wasted opportunity. You can infer so much information with details... why would you not take that opportunity? Details will make your story live. They are the quirks, birthstains and habits that turn a generic person into a real and breathing individual.
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Re: Making Details Purposeful

Postby polymath » 11 Feb 2011, 19:53

Detail I know as ambience, detail in the sense of exposition's most common current conventional connotation, can set a mood, pre-position or foreshadow conflict, pose purpose and/or problem, build reader rapport with characters and their insuperable circumstances, artfully pose dramatic questions, be causal and artfully delay full realization if it's memorable or be immediately realized, and be an effect. Let's see, that's causation, tension, and antagonism, or the bases of plot, which conflict closely relates to.

Otherwise, detail might be superfluous if it doesn't do at least one of the above. Ideally, detail does more than one job through a glorious synergistic synthesis. I believe ambience timeliness and subtlety are critical for artfully revealing detail and empty ambience is untimely and blunt, perhaps a narrator recitation, or telling.

And Realism, the literary movement in a nutshell, simply is a significant literary departure from Romanticism. Several characteristics distinguish the departure; less, if any, poetic justice; favoring free will over predetermination; and the conflicts, complications and stakes and outcomes thereof are central to the plot.
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Re: Making Details Purposeful

Postby Guardian » 11 Feb 2011, 20:08

Margo wrote:So, no they don't have to be important, but why waste the space and opportunity when more intentional choices do more than add a color or shape? It is because these details accumulate in the subconscious that I prefer not to waste them.

You're not wasting the space and opportunity with it. You're just making the true difference between world and world. Minor details can open the imagination of readers and the imagined world, enviroment, scene can create a quite different atmosphere, something else what they read before. These details doesn't have to be in the descriptions, but they can be presented in dialogues if you want.

Here is a subconscious minor detail example (presented via a dialogue) from my second WIP, Nightfall (I cut the d-tags)...
“So far away and so here. I can see you, I can hear you. I’m everywhere, while I’m no where. You can’t escape me I’ll haunt and follow you in your life as this is my---“
“... afterlife, this is my Beyond Masquerade. Yeah. I saw that theater piece.”
“My favorite. So many thoughts have vanished, but I still remember this quote. It would please me for this to be the last thought I remember.”


Here, you already know on this world there is an unnamed theater piece and you also can imagine what the quoted part is all about. It's also giving a detail to two characters as there is one who loves it, and another one who also saw it, but you don't know the other one loved or hated it (Presumably liked it as that character also remembers for it.). And it's a minor detail, a minor info hidden in the dialogue, nothing more as it doesn't really serve any purpose in the story. But it's expanding the cultural traits of this world and also giving characteristics to these characters.

So, if minor details doesn't have a true purpose, you can use them as atmospheric elements or to give characteristics to someone or something (Same with shapes and colors. I use colors the most in my other WIP.). With these elements you can expand the imagination of your readers, instead of putting them into a black and white or a gray world. The real difference is; how and where you're presenting these meaningless minor details.

Details are information. If you're not informing your readers about certain elements, they can't or won't imagine anything at all.
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Re: Making Details Purposeful

Postby Margo » 11 Feb 2011, 21:48

Guardian wrote:So, if minor details doesn't have a true purpose, you can use them as atmospheric elements or to give characteristics to someone or something (Same with shapes and colors. I use colors the most in my other WIP.).


I think we have a failure to communicate. If you are using the details to establish character, they do have a true purpose. So it sounds like we agree more than you think we do, but differ possibly only to the matter of degree. I'm a little more cautious about the 'atmospheric elements' unless they are presented in relationship to character, because otherwise it can stray too closely to travelogue.

Guardian wrote:With these elements you can expand the imagination of your readers, instead of putting them into a black and white or a gray world.


But you can do the same thing with intentional, meaningful detail, so again what's the point in choosing meaningless minor detail over meaningful minor detail?

Guardian wrote:If you're not informing your readers about certain elements, they can't or won't imagine anything at all.


You seem to be assuming it's a choice between meaningless minor detail or no detail at all. No so.
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Re: Making Details Purposeful

Postby Margo » 11 Feb 2011, 21:52

Claudie wrote:Unless the detail you choose is completely generic, I'm not sure you can make it meaningless. Everything you mention sends a message, whether it's about your characters or your world. A girl wearing a light skirt won't be received the same way as one with comfy jeans. Her choice of clothing is an indication of her tastes.

The simple fact you take the time to mention it is a message. Perhaps you wrote your MC liked to ski as a second thought, a filler for his thoughts at some point. But when I read "likes to ski", I'll automatically conclude that this guy likes sports, doesn't mind the cold so much and can't be far from mountains if he's a regular.

While it seems possible to me to write without being careful about details, it seems like a wasted opportunity. You can infer so much information with details... why would you not take that opportunity? Details will make your story live. They are the quirks, birthstains and habits that turn a generic person into a real and breathing individual.


I hate it when you explain what I mean better than I do. :P I can't stress enough that we infer things as we read, whether a writer intends us to or not. I also find that readers get more satisfaction out a story that lets them infer at least some things without having the author tattoo it on their foreheads. And again, this is an incredibly useful alternative to telling!

polymath wrote:Ideally, detail does more than one job through a glorious synergistic synthesis. I believe ambience timeliness and subtlety are critical for artfully revealing detail and empty ambience is untimely and blunt, perhaps a narrator recitation, or telling.


Exactly.

polymath wrote:And Realism, the literary movement in a nutshell, simply is a significant literary departure from Romanticism. Several characteristics distinguish the departure; less, if any, poetic justice; favoring free will over predetermination; and the conflicts, complications and stakes and outcomes thereof are central to the plot.


The blog topic wasn't Realism the literary movement but the idea that it's preferable to include something in fiction simply because it's something that would happen in real life, even if it has no bearing on the story or breaks reader expectation or etc etc etc. Perhaps I need to make that clearer?
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Re: Making Details Purposeful

Postby Guardian » 12 Feb 2011, 04:48

Margo wrote:I think we have a failure to communicate. If you are using the details to establish character, they do have a true purpose.

Actually this is the essence. You're giving properties with every little or major detail. The question is; how you're doing that and what purpose the detail really has. i.e.: a color, a shape is a property of an object, but in most cases readers, usually lazy and impatient ones used to be consider them as meaningless... while in the reality they can be really meaningful if you want as they can make a true difference between description and description (Example below). Although, when you add a detail to a description, it's already intentional as you, the writer want it that detail in the actual context (Usually to give a better atmosphere or description for the reader; to imagine the very same what you imagined.). Then it's up to the reader to decide from the context what those details are; meaningful or meaningless. The difference between meaningful and meaningless detail is actually coming from the context, or from the story or the world itself. If your readers are impatient or worse, forgot to use their imagination, of course everything is meaningless to them.

Here is a color and shape example, this time from my other WIP, Crystal Shade (The original context is in spoiler.).

"Crafts appeared in the bright sky to fly under the brilliance of the sun."

In this context you get a readable presentation without any true detail. You can imagine it as it's telling what is happening; some unknown crafts (presumably helicopters or aircrafts, private jets or fighter jets) are flying under the sun what you presumably imagined as yellow or orange sun as that's the default color of it in human imagination. Now, check the difference in the spoiler and see what difference the little details can do.

Spoiler:
"Majestic golden and silver colored eagle shaped crafts appeared in the bright blue sky to fly in formation under the brilliance of the sapphire sun; its eternal glow reflected from their metal bodies and sectioned wings."

Do you see the difference? It's already a different world with a sharper picture. It's not that blurry as the first one. You do know what these crafts are, because of a simple "shape modifier". You can imagine how they look like, what their colors and materials are because of some additional modifiers. The sun is also different because of a "color modifier", not that default orange or yellow as you presumably imagined for the first time. As you can see, everything can be presented as a generic, blurry description, or can be filled with little details to tell how everything look like and with this, to make a true difference between description and description. It's also giving a quite different impression, atmosphere and picture about certain elements. Personally I call the first version, these generic descriptions as the desert mirage effect. It's like standing in the desert and you're watching something... some shadowy thing through the dense, whirling hot air, but you don't have the slightest clue what lies before you. In the second version, you do know exactly what lies before you, thanks to these little details.

But you can do the same thing with intentional, meaningful detail, so again what's the point in choosing meaningless minor detail over meaningful minor detail?

In your opinion what are these details in the second version? It's up to you to tell what these details are, as you're the reader and the opinion of the readers are rarely matching with the writer's opinion. So in your opinion, what are they? Meaningless or meaningful details? Minor or major details? Answer these two questions and then read the spoiler to match your answer with my one.

Spoiler:
I consider them as intentional, but meaningless minor details as with the exception of one detail, they're not serving any purpose in the story at all (Other then to avoid the desert mirage effect, to give exact properties to certain objects and to give depth and color to this scene and the world itself.). But these seemingly meaningless properties are always building the world one way or another. Details are simple modifiers; making the true difference between visuals and visuals, or content and content.
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Re: Making Details Purposeful

Postby Down the well » 12 Feb 2011, 08:36

Margo wrote:No idle chatter. No coincidence. No blind luck. I also mentioned no pointless detail.


Everyone is allowed one coincidence, but beyond that it is one of my biggest pet peeves in writing.

But as far as details in a novel they seem to serve two purposes: they create a believable world, one in which we see the character interacting with his surroundings in a meaningful way or they act as descriptive filler that the eye glosses over to get to the good stuff.

I almost always skip long descriptive passages of landscapes or rooms because they usually prove to be nothing more than writing exercises for the author -- a chance to pull out all those poetic adjectives and really show the world what true writing is! Problem is, unless there is some purposeful intent in the details the passage has no meaning to me as a reader.

Now, I do like details to provide ambience. I want the world the character is living in described to me so that I feel like I'm there with them. Careful word choice can transport the reader, and I love it when a writer has done their research and can give me the particulars -- not a dissertation on what they learned, but a few descriptive words that make the objects in the world unique to the time or place.
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Re: Making Details Purposeful

Postby Margo » 12 Feb 2011, 09:51

To be honest, Guardian, I'm having a little bit of trouble following your argument, as most of what you seem to be trying to convince me of is what I'm already saying.

Guardian wrote:You're giving properties with every little or major detail. The question is; how you're doing that and what purpose the detail really has. i.e.: a color, a shape is a property of an object, but in most cases readers, usually lazy and impatient ones used to be consider them as meaningless...


This is where we disagree. I don't think readers do automatically assume that details are meaningless as every detail carries meaning whether it's intentional or not. The problem with a writer making off-the-cuff choices with detail is that they might be giving a contradictory impression that will slowly nag at the reader or they are telling the reader they can't be bothered to think about the details they are providing. The other choice, of course, is to not provide detail at all, which sends a clear signal that the detail is unimportant. If it is unimportant, it is preferable to leave it out than to provide a thoughtless description that presents the reader with the wrong symbolism, weak symbolism, an unintentional signal that the detail has significance to the story or to a later event when it does not, or an impression that the writer doesn't care or can't move beyond throwing in thoughtless cliches.

I think if a reader finds, over several encounters, that a writer's detail is pretty but meaningless, they will begin skipping the descriptions. Some readers are okay with this. Others will stop reading that author and give him/her a bad review. Examples for me would be Laurall K Hamilton, Jacqueline Carey, and Cecilia Dart Thornton.

After four books, I know I can skip LKH's setting descriptions during travel scenes. They are pure filler with no later story significance, and this annoys me. I stick with the books because I like studying the way she sets up relationships and because I already know I'm probably going to put the series down in about two more books, when the ardeur is introduced.

Jacqueline Carey is a really masterful writer when it comes to lush descriptions, but I find sometimes she pushes it too far. After two books I had gotten the hang of identifying meaningful descriptions versus pretty setting stuff, and I started skipping those passages. I have more patience for Carey because it's not a huge habit book after book, and because her style and genre have slightly different expectations attached.

CDT includes a level of detail that I first found intoxicating but soon discovered was totally arbitrary, describing everything in beautiful, painstaking detail for no other reason than the love of beautiful, painstaking detail. After awhile it became impossible to determine what was significant and what was just another paragraph of pretty pointless detail. I stopped reading before finishing the first book and never bought another.

My point being that yes, readers do look for meaning in the details, and if they find them consistently lacking, they will lose trust in that writer's style. The degree of lost trust will depend on the reader. I don't find readers lazy. In fact, the first bit of advice Don Maass ever gave me was that I wasn't trusting the audience enough and was doing too much of the work for them.

You gave me two examples of description. The samples would seem to be making a point that more description is better than less, and I don't agree. The right description is not about the number of adjectives or the vividness of word choice but the effectiveness of conveying what you are trying to express. I do agree that the better description is the second, though there are several things about the second description that turn me off a bit. (Sorry, I hope that doesn't offend. These are isolated lines, so there's no way for me to get a feel for context or style or flow.)

Guardian wrote:In this context you get a readable presentation without any true detail.


First, again, you seem to think the choice is no detail or tons of pretty but not terribly meaningful detail. You seem to be missing the concept of making the detail meaningful. If there is nothing meaningful about what is being described, then move on to something that is meaningful.

Guardian wrote:
Spoiler:
"Majestic golden and silver colored eagle shaped crafts appeared in the bright blue sky to fly in formation under the brilliance of the sapphire sun; its eternal glow reflected from their metal bodies and sectioned wings."


The difference for me is that the description is more vivid in certain details and meaninglessly cliche in others. Again, this is out of context, so that might sound unfair and harsh, and it might be.

Guardian wrote:In your opinion what are these details in the second version? It's up to you to tell what these details are, as you're the reader and the opinion of the readers are rarely matching with the writer's opinion. So in your opinion, what are they? Meaningless or meaningful details? Minor or major details? Answer these two questions and then read the spoiler to match your answer with my one.


Without context, I as a reader am willing to assume (trust) you have provided certain details for a larger reason.
Spoiler:
Magestic golden and silver, eagle-shaped, metal bodies and sectioned wings. If these later have no significance -- that is, they say nothing about the people or culture or future events through the symbolism of color and animal comparisons - I will lose some amount of trust in the writer. Again, the degree of trust and my response depends on a lot of variables. The details that seem meaningless to me are the bright blue sky and the brilliance of the sapphire sun. I'm on the fence about the eternal glow and would probably give you the benefit of the doubt on that one. The sky descriptions turn me off as red flags of meaningless pretty description, somewhat generic and cliche. If this appeared in a first paragraph, I'd be looking for a reason to put the book down but would probably give it at least three or four more paragraphs to see if I kept encountering details that seemed pretty but without subtle significance.
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Re: Making Details Purposeful

Postby Margo » 12 Feb 2011, 10:06

Down the well wrote:Everyone is allowed one coincidence, but beyond that it is one of my biggest pet peeves in writing.


This is not the first time I have seen this preference expressed. There also seems to be more tolerance for coincidence if it's bad for the protagonist.

Down the well wrote:But as far as details in a novel they seem to serve two purposes: they create a believable world, one in which we see the character interacting with his surroundings in a meaningful way or they act as descriptive filler that the eye glosses over to get to the good stuff.


I think you can take it to another level, though, in choosing details that create a believable world not because they are meticulous and bright bold adjective choices but because they say something about the world beyond what it looks like. It says something about the culture that built the structures...something that comes up in the plot. It says something about the worldview of the character who is looking at the world and establishes the attitudes and beliefs that are going to influence his decisions in the story...all without a tell like "Tom was cynical". It establishes a snap shot that will stand in contrast later in the story, after an extremely significant event.

Down the well wrote:I almost always skip long descriptive passages of landscapes or rooms because they usually prove to be nothing more than writing exercises for the author -- a chance to pull out all those poetic adjectives and really show the world what true writing is! Problem is, unless there is some purposeful intent in the details the passage has no meaning to me as a reader.


Yeah, I agree completely.

Down the well wrote:Now, I do like details to provide ambience. I want the world the character is living in described to me so that I feel like I'm there with them. Careful word choice can transport the reader, and I love it when a writer has done their research and can give me the particulars -- not a dissertation on what they learned, but a few descriptive words that make the objects in the world unique to the time or place.


Again, I don't think it's an either-or. Details carefully chosen can serve more than one purpose at a time. Also, ambience, that's an interesting concept that keep coming up. Is ambience not meaningful to the story? Is it not a story tool that can be used, like any descriptive detail, to establish the character filtering the view or foreshadow future events or paint the personality of a place as it relates to the plot.

For instance, in the UF I'm working on I made up a city because I wanted each neighborhood involved in the story to have a personality/ambience particular to the events that are going to happen there. My descriptive details are symbolic of what the place stands for, the story theme, and the events that will transform the characters there. The ambience is still there, but not just for the sake of making something seem so detailed it must be real or setting an overall mood.

Of course, the only reason I can do this is because I'm a planner. However, a pantser can come back through on revision and do this just as effectively using hindsight instead of foresight.
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Re: Making Details Purposeful

Postby Down the well » 12 Feb 2011, 10:46

Margo wrote:I think you can take it to another level, though, in choosing details that create a believable world not because they are meticulous and bright bold adjective choices but because they say something about the world beyond what it looks like. It says something about the culture that built the structures...something that comes up in the plot. It says something about the worldview of the character who is looking at the world and establishes the attitudes and beliefs that are going to influence his decisions in the story...all without a tell like "Tom was cynical". It establishes a snap shot that will stand in contrast later in the story, after an extremely significant event.


That would be my definition of meaningful.


Margo wrote:Details carefully chosen can serve more than one purpose at a time. Also, ambience, that's an interesting concept that keep coming up. Is ambience not meaningful to the story? Is it not a story tool that can be used, like any descriptive detail, to establish the character filtering the view or foreshadow future events or paint the personality of a place as it relates to the plot.


Um, yes. That would fit my meaning of purpose.


Margo wrote:Of course, the only reason I can do this is because I'm a planner. However, a pantser can come back through on revision and do this just as effectively using hindsight instead of foresight.


You'd be surprised at what a pantser can come up with in the moment. :) But you're right, it's in the burnishing during the rewrites when you find out if it works or not.
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Re: Making Details Purposeful

Postby Margo » 12 Feb 2011, 10:57

Down the well wrote:That would be my definition of meaningful...

Um, yes. That would fit my meaning of purpose...


LOL. So I'm trying to persuade you to adopt the opinion you already had? Lovely. :) My brain must be mush at this point. I've been dealing with a few people at work who are very difficult to understand - one intentionally so, I'm pretty sure - and who love to use unnecessarily abstract language and misappropriated tachnical jargon they don't expect me to understand. I'm not sure I understand my native language (or any other) after a few days of that.

Down the well wrote:You'd be surprised at what a pantser can come up with in the moment. :) But you're right, it's in the burnishing during the rewrites when you find out if it works or not.


I've had a couple pantsers impress me lately, so that's not a very hard sell right now. :)
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Re: Making Details Purposeful

Postby polymath » 12 Feb 2011, 11:13

My sense of problematic coincidences is they don't involve a proactive causal action by a protagonist, though a causal coincidence early on is less problematic than a late-breaking coincidence. I feel a profoundly dynamic protagonist causes his or her own complications as well as strives to resolve them. When a protagonist's dramatic complication is self-incited in an opening act, then addressing it and denouement's final outcomes are profoundly proactive and unified.

For instance, Chekhov's Gun postulates if a firearm is going to be used in a third act, it best be prepositioned in an earlier act. And conversely, if a firearm is prepositioned in a first act, it promises it will be used. It best be used by a final act. I feel the same way about exposition detail no matter by which writing modes it's given. DIANE'S SECRET.

I don't think, Margo, you and Guardian are in disagreement so much as differing over aesthetic sensibilities, both reading and writing. I see your differences as a cultural divide.
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Re: Making Details Purposeful

Postby Down the well » 12 Feb 2011, 11:33

Margo wrote:LOL. So I'm trying to persuade you to adopt the opinion you already had? Lovely. :)


Preaching to the choir, sister.

polymath wrote:My sense of problematic coincidences is they don't involve a proactive causal action by a protagonist, though a causal coincidence early on is less problematic than a late-breaking coincidence


Yeah, I agree. Coincidences that come early and that are at least plausible are okay with me. But not at the end, not once the reader is invested. No coincidences to tie up the plot and save the protagonist.
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Re: Making Details Purposeful

Postby Guardian » 12 Feb 2011, 11:47

polymath wrote:I don't think, Margo, you and Guardian are in disagreement so much as differing over aesthetic sensibilities, both reading and writing. I see your differences as a cultural divide.

As I see Margo's latest response, basically we're telling the very same, just from a bit different perspective. I don't think it's cultural divide, rather a matter of writing and reading style and personal taste. Personally I love to make experiments in the descriptions, at least in this WIP, while Margo is rather trying to stay on safer grounds. There is no problem with it at all. I also do the same in other WIPs. But sometimes it's good if we're trying to write few things on a bit different way (Minor details included.).

Margo wrote:In fact, the first bit of advice Don Maass ever gave me was that I wasn't trusting the audience enough and was doing too much of the work for them.

Don Maass is one of the bests. I also agree with his statement. But sometimes you must do much of the work for them. You may trust in them, but when you're writing something else, something new and I guess everyone here is trying to do this day by day, in most cases details are necessary elements, otherwise there is a chance the readers won't see the whole picture.

Margo wrote:Magestic golden and silver, eagle-shaped, metal bodies and sectioned wings. If these later have no significance -- that is, they say nothing about the people or culture or future events through the symbolism of color and animal comparisons - I will lose some amount of trust in the writer.

Yes. It is essential to give a big pay off for the readers. So somewhere you must connect these elements with the culture, with the world or the characters. Otherwise they're truly meaningless and unnecessary, just as you mentioned. In that case the first example sentence would be enough.

I don't think readers do automatically assume that details are meaningless as every detail carries meaning whether it's intentional or not.

That's what I'm saying. But you assumed the same too here...

Margo wrote:Again, the degree of trust and my response depends on a lot of variables. The details that seem meaningless to me are the bright blue sky and the brilliance of the sapphire sun.

It's not a problem as I thought you'll consider these points as meaningless, but the two is connecting each other closely and the sapphire sun is the mentioned key element which has an essence in the entire story (So, it's a truly meaningful hidden detail.). Although, the bright blue sky is necessary as if the sun has a different color, the sky used to have a different color too (The only exception is this combination, but I rather mention, otherwise the readers may question my ability in research or lack of details.).

I'm on the fence about the eternal glow and would probably give you the benefit of the doubt on that one. The sky descriptions turn me off as red flags of meaningless pretty description, somewhat generic and cliche.

As you see you've misjudged this concept because of the sapphire sun, but it's not a problem. It's a pre-calculated risk factor as its a seemingly meaningless element, while it isn't. Although pretty descriptions, style is a matter of genre and this work is requiring it by some reason (The entire concept is based on this style and the readers can understand at the end why I'm using this, instead of a more generic style. So it's pre-calculated element and risk, just as every other detail in this WIP. But for exchange there is a big pay off at the very end.).

I do agree that the better description is the second, though there are several things about the second description that turn me off a bit. (Sorry, I hope that doesn't offend. These are isolated lines, so there's no way for me to get a feel for context or style or flow.)

That won't happen, so don't worry. :) I used that part as an example, so it would be strange if I would be offended after all this. We're just discussing about these elements and I love to hear the opinion of others.
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