Important Details

As a writer, I notice details in books and movies.  What appears to be simply random or just extra action may, in fact, have future bearing on the plot.

For example, in the movie Tangled, a mirror falls and breaks in a scene.  It seems to be simply a dramatic event, adding flavor to the moment but not actually adding significance.  Yet later, one of those shards of mirror ends up being an important tool for one of the characters.  If the mirror doesn’t break, he might not have had anything to work with.

This type of thing makes me think of those quest-type video games. The one I played as a child was called “Eco-Quest” but I know this is not an unfamiliar genre. In these games, it pays off to pick up random things throughout and stick them in your bag, especially if another character gives something to you. That fishing line you cut off a trapped sea turtle? Keep it! You’ll end up needing it (and a few other things) to complete a task four or five levels later.

When writing, you can add spice to your story with things like this.  Sure, the guy who needs to cut a rope can simply find one on a table when he needs it.  But it gives the reader a satisfactory “Aha!” moment if he happened to be given or randomly pick up a knife earlier in the book that he hasn’t needed until this moment.

It also gives you a good reason to go back and re-read your favorite book or re-watch your favorite movie, just to see if there is anything similar in the story.

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