Sprinkling in Details in Our Writing: How much to share—and when

I’m in the process of editing my WIP, and noticed I give too many details. Reading this post caused an Aha moment.

Denise D. Young

by Myndi Shafer, WANA Commons by Myndi Shafer, WANA Commons

Some of the best writing advice I’ve ever received didn’t come out of a creative writing workshop. No, I learned it at the copy desk of my college newspaper, where I spent each Saturday hunched over pages with a colored pen, making news article polished and shiny and ready for the world.

We were reading over an article that featured a lot of background information. My college journalism professor—who also spent each Saturday hunched over those pages—told us not to give the background upfront. “Sprinkle it in,” he said.

When writing a first draft, we’re often tempted to put all the details in the first few chapters. This is well-intentioned—we want to ground the reader. But too much detail all at once is overwhelming. In later drafts, we can pare down large sections of exposition. And that’s where sprinkling comes in. What do we sprinkle?…

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