Name ________________________ Date ______________ Details Make the Difference If we’ve said it once, we’ve said it a million times: Writing is more interesting when you add Details! Details!!! DETAILS!!!!! A detail is just extra stuff you can say about something. Details in writing are useful because they help readers make pictures in their minds. Remember my letter to the class? The 2nd paragraph about interests could have said this: I like many things. I love to sing, ski, solve puzzles, play games, spend time with my nephews, and read. That’s pretty blah, right? Reading that paragraph was like reading the phone book...totally boring! Sure, there’s a main idea: ____________________________________. And there are details about that main idea: 1) _______________, 2) _______________, 3) _______________, 4) _______________, 5) _______________, and 6) _______________. But sometimes details alone are not enough. Sometimes you have to write details about the details. You learned that I love to sing, but if I love it that much, I must have something else to say about it. What kind of information could I have included about my love of singing to paint a clearer picture in a reader’s mind? a) _____________________________________________________ b) _____________________________________________________ c) _____________________________________________________ d) _____________________________________________________ Let’s try the paragraph again, including some details about detail 1, singing: I like many things. I love to sing. In college I sang with six different groups! Two of the groups recorded CDs, and I might play you some of the songs later in the year. Some other things I love to do are ski, solve puzzles, play games, spend time with my nephews, and read. That was more interesting than the 1st version, but there’s still a problem. Now that there are details about detail 1, the reader wants some details about details 2, 3, 4, 5, and 6!!! Here’s how that ended up looking: There are many things I like to do, but to keep this letter from being ten pages long, I'll just tell you about a few. First, I love to sing. In college I sang with six different groups! Two of the groups recorded CDs, and I might play you some of the songs later in the year. Another thing I love to do is ski. I've been skiing since I was five years old, mainly in Killington, Vermont. I love feeling the air glide over my face as I race down the mountain. In fact, I adore everything about skiing except the fact that I have to put on so many clothes to stay warm. My third love is solving puzzles and playing games like Boggle and Scrabble. I play these with family and friends as often I can--sometimes for hours at a time! I also love to spend time with my adorable twin nephews, Malcolm and Jonas. They are 10 months old and love to giggle. (I guess that runs in the family!) The last interest I will mention is my passion for reading. (This would surprise my grade-school teachers because I wasn't much of a reader back then.) Now, I can't imagine how boring my life would be if I didn't explore so many different and exciting worlds through novels. Now do you see how “Details! Details!!! DETAILS!!!!!” can make a short, boring piece of writing come to life? The next time you write, remember that most paragraphs include 3 things: ______ Main idea sentence ______ Details (stuff) about the main idea ______ Details about the details If you need help thinking of details about the details, you can always use the “26 Tricks to Improve Your Expository Writing” checklist, or your Pink Card.
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