Details of Character

There are no small details in writing fiction; they just have different purposes.

Some details move the plot line in a novel, like having a gun in a desk drawer. You show the gun to let readers know that it is going to be used at some point. A gun kills, stops action or holds characters in place while they dialogue. Dialogue gives information vital to the plot. A gun can change the course of a plot story, that’s a big detail.

But there are supporting details that have nothing to do with the story of a plot line. They describe a situation, a place or build character.

In Clive Cussler’s Fargo novel series, husband and wife Sam and Remi Fargo, are world travelers who stumble into evil pot adventures.

How they dress for dinner, or what they eat, have nothing to do with the plot structure, but it does lend to character building.

They would never stop at a fast food place for a meal. I doubt they could even tell you where one is.

When they go out for dinner, Sam wears a dinner jacket. Remi wears jewels and an elegant evening dress. They order $1,000 wine and a plate of food worth $50 to $75, a piece. They have no problem spending $1500, or more, for a meal.

Even if Clive uses names for wine, or food, that I’ve never hear of, I know they are expensive. I know his characters have money.

So it’s no surprise that they can afford to leisurely travel the world to places where they stumble on a one-man, German, WWII submarine.

Inside the sub, they find a lost Napoleon bottle of wine, which begins Fargo’s first novel, Spartan Gold.

The Fargo’s have a three-person team, who has the technological resources to track down the information needed to solve an adventure.

If these people stayed at a cheep motel and eat bologna sandwiches, I’d have trouble believing they were world travelers with a supportive support team.

Although, it would be an interesting story to see how they would travel on a low budget.

Maybe they work on cargo ships to cross the ocean. They take throwaway jobs in each country they enter and work their way up to more lucrative positions.

On their travels, they encounter adventures to be solved. They make friends with people who are able to provide the resources needed to solve and stop evil mastermind plots.

The level of details create characters, which explains the kinds of adventures they encounter and how they solve problems.

What character details are most memorable to you?


This post was inspired by Preston W. Fuller.