History That Never Was

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Atmospheric Sensory Detail vs. Sensory Detail for Plot

A lot of writing advice suggests that you need to load your writing with sensory details. However, other advice suggest that the only sensory details you include should be the ones with direct bearing on the plot.

This article suggests a much more balanced approach–including enough sensory detail to establish the atmosphere, but also using some of that detail in service to the plot. I think it’s a nice happy medium between the two, and it’s the advice I think is preferable. It’s lovely to immerse your readers in your setting, but it’s important to take care to not overwhelm your readers, too, lest they miss significant sensory detail because they’ve taken to skimming long passages of descriptive text.

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