If you read my prior article, Feeling the arpeggio resonate in your chest, you’ll recall I described feeling let down from what I perceived to be lack of detail contained within a contemporary work of fiction I was reading at the time. This got me thinking: How does one’s personality affect setting and detail contained in his fiction?
Without diving into a detailed analysis of type theory, let’s just say I consider myself to be a detail-oriented person. I’m the type of person who maintains meticulous auto repair records; I record water quality readings of my two freshwater aquariums on a weekly basis; I even visually inspect by eye for level, square-ness, and symmetry of buildings and homes whenever I enter them.
As I paused to ponder my own personality traits, I realize they play a significant role in the setting and detail contained within my fiction. If I bring my reader into a house built in the 1920s, I’m going to describe how the wood-trim moulding is large, ornate, and covered in six-coats of lead-based paint. But is that level of detail really important to readers?
For some readers, I suspect plot is of key concern and the little details don’t matter. I was one of those readers in high-school literature classes. I wanted enough detail to answer the questions on the test, but wasn’t interested in reading a story for entertainment when I had three more hours of additional homework to finish that night.
As an adult, I now read for entertainment and knowledge and therefore want to be surprised by the little details contained in the story. If the fiction I’m reading is following a motley crew of pirates in search of hidden treasure, then I want to learn a little bit about the interior construction and layout of their Schooner vessel in addition to simply reading the character development.
Now acknowledging different types of readers and writers in the world, I’m starting to understand why some stories become instant classics while others only ever entertain a limited audience.