Make a Splash in Your Story With These “Little” Things

“If you can take a little slice of the world and a little piece of dirt and really focus on details, you can drive large, seemingly spectacular movements.” —David Baldacci (Writer’s Digest November/December 2015)

image by inspired images
image by inspired images

Note the quote from David Baldacci above. It’s from his interview, “Absolute Writer,” by Jessica Strawser.

Baldacci’s quote from the interview says I can do four things:

  • “take a little slice of the world and ”
  • “a little piece of dirt and”
  • “really focus on details”
  • and “drive … spectacular movements”

I think this could work on novels, scenes, or short stories.

As an exploratory example, I’ll apply Baldacci’s advice, as I perceive it, to the short story, I’m working on, a Christmas romance.

My slice of the world is the road to marriage. I see these subparts:

  1. the dreams of the perfect love,
  2. the cute-meet (movie term),
  3. the getting-to-know-you,
  4. the wariness of less than perfect,
  5. the acceptance of less than perfect,
  6. the embracing of less than perfect,
  7. the desire to become one, and
  8. the commitment to the union.
image by zulubo
image by zulubo

My story needs to be a “little slice.” So my slice will cover the hero and heroine’s amusing meeting to their realization they prefer the less perfect person more than the perfect one of their dreams (subparts 2-5).


My “little piece of dirt” is:

  • A neighborhood,
  • where movement is limited by a dumping of snow,
  • where most scenes happen in the hero’s and the heroine’s houses,
  • where only three other characters make brief appearances (two by phone) to move the story along.


image by srose
image by srose

Keeping their story in the neighborhood and limiting the number of characters, allows me to concentrate on the play between the hero and heroine.





The details I’ll “really focus on” are in:

  • hitting home the theme,
  • creating believable and unique characters, and
  • writing unpredictable plot points.

Baldacci says that while we’re showing the details, we need to trick, distract, and deflect the reader’s attention to keep the story unpredictable and to move the action forward. This will be my challenge.

Driving my “spectacular movements.”

  • I interpret that as: at the end, the reader needs to feel like cheering and/or changing.

Focus on details & limit world, setting, characters to write an amazing story. Click to tweet.

How have you used the idea, “little,” to make a splash in your story?