What is a detail?

Posted: January 5, 2013


Details are important for all kinds of writing: creative, persuasive, and expository. We tell young writers that good writing “has a lot of details.” When you ask someone why they liked a certain book, they often say things like “because it was very detailed” and “it made it feel like you were there.” But what does that mean? What is a detail? As a writing teacher would say, “Could you be more specific?”

One thing you can do is explain to young writers that “details” fall into four main categories: description, definition, explanation, and information. Spend some time talking about each one and why and how each one can be important or effective. Show some examples of each . Once they begin to see that there are different kinds of details, they can start asking themselves which kind might be needed, useful, or effective in a certain paragraph or piece of writing.

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