Details add sparkle to the story (and can sometimes cut down your word count).
It's a little weird to think that putting in details can actually make a story shorter. But one of the things I’ve noticed while revising is that sometimes a carefully selected word or phrase can replace an entire sentence.
I think it’s important to make sure the details you choose are ones your main character would notice. For example, my current novel has a lot of smell-related details since my main character has a keen sense of smell.
- sentences where the main purpose is to state a description (often starting with "It was..."). These can sometimes be eliminated by using a descriptive phrase or by showing how the character reacts to the description.
- sensory details that are vague, rather than specific. For example, It smelled delicious vs. It smelled like the gingerbread cookies her grandmother used to bake.
Cool Quote: “Description does nothing to move a story forward on its own. It’s how it interacts with the characters that makes or breaks it.” Janice Hardy, Description 101: Is Your Description Helping Your Story or Holding It Back? The Other Side of the Story, April 21, 2011
Over at Chocolate for Inspiration, my critique buddy Christina Farley talks about her revision process – she has one phase of revision that's just for getting the details right.