When people ask me what I like to read, there is no one answer. It depends greatly on what I feel like at the moment and how much time I want to invest in any given article or book. When I have a great amount of time and feel like focusing all my energy I will go to the stack of books that various friends and relatives have insisted I read. But everyday I turn to magazines, weeklies and dailies to quench my literary thirst.
Whether it is the Economist, the Chronicle, or Esquire, I am looking for something informative and interesting that I will want to tell others about. What makes something interesting and informative is details. Raw. Visceral. It is those energetic details that etch a bookmark into my mental index.
It’s the small. The usually mundane. The overlooked things that often need to be folded into the picture so that the reader gains a different perspective of what is going on.
When editor of the opinion page at the SF Chronicle, John Diaz, spoke in my opinion writing class at SF State, he pointed out the importance that details are in op-ed writing (as well as every other type of writing.)
It’s an excerpt like: When I met him for an interview he had a thick carpet of hobo stubble on his face and a greasy St. Louis Blues cap pulled down low on his forehead. Lisa Albert told me that the first day she and the other writers met him he was so casually dressed, even by the unexacting standards of a TV production office, they thought he was delivering lunch.
from Bruce Handy’s Vanity Fair article on the t.v. show Mad Men that make me stop and take note.
Its details that keep the reader tuned in. Details that make the article memorable. Details that make people write that author’s name down and have them seeking out the attune wordsmith.
The only problem is finding those details and crafting them into the story with ease and brevity so that it doesn’t deter from the message that needs to be told.