How to Add Depth to Your Writing – Part 2
Part 1 looked at how characterisation, creating immediacy, themes and emotions can develop a sense of depth to storytelling. But of course, there are many more that every writer should include, which form the basic backbone to any writing.
Conflict – in its many forms – gives greater depth to writing, because where there is conflict there are a gamut of emotions. Conflict draws the reader deeper into the story because the main character is often at the centre, but the emotions that stem from such conflicts create reactions within the reader – they’re moved somehow; they’re angry, they’re on the edge of their seat, they’re scared or they’re on the verge of tears.
Deep connections with your characters will create greater depth.
One of the best ways to add depth to any story is also one of the most simple, and it all revolves around detail. Every bit of information, every description and every brushstroke provides an almost limitless depth to your writing. Unfortunately, a lot of writers skip over details, in the misguided assumption that their readers don’t want to be confronted with long paragraphs full of description.
But that’s like watching a movie where the hero simply stands in one spot and does nothing. And that’s what a story is without detail and description – it becomes nothing. That’s what telling a story is about – describing the events to the reader. If there is no description, no detail, then the reader won’t even read the story.
Readers love to immerse themselves in details; to imagine themselves in the story and to feel what the main characters are feeling. And to do that, they need description. Clever description, where the writer builds detail around a key moment in the story, is as much about the small details; the things that happen in the background, the kind of things the reader just loves to notice, as it is about the larger detail in the foreground. The setting, the mood, the atmosphere, the colours, the smells, the feelings, objects, other characters – all these things make up great description, which doesn't have to fill pages and pages. Description works best when it is interspersed with narrative and dialogue.
Description should draw your reader further into the story. The more sensory details there are, the more depth you create, and the likelier it is for your reader to become invested in the story and care about your characters on a visceral level. So don’t skimp on detail. Description adds depth, and it’s the one thing writers should never ignore.
While details build the imaginary world for your reader, a sense of reality provides yet more depth to the story. That means the story needs to feel real rather than forced, or the plot is so far-fetched that the reader gives up reading the story. The characters need to feel real, too, rather than wooden or stereotypical, otherwise the reader won’t connect with them.
The events within the story should also reflect real life, rather than ridiculous things seen in Hollywood movies. That’s because readers can relate to real situations and events, perhaps because they can sympathise with them or they have been through similar situations. Reality can create immediacy, that magical thing that connects your reader to the story. In turn, that creates layers of emotional depth, which is exactly what every story needs.
In part 3, we’ll look at the more complex ways to add depth to your writing.