Don’t Be Afraid of the Details #IWSG

Insecure Writers Support Group BadgeHi, y’all! First, thanks so much for stopping in today. This is my first time participating in the monthly hop sponsored by Insecure Writers Support Group. I stumbled over the group by accident, and a happy one at that. I don’t know a writer out there who hasn’t felt on some level at some point at least a little less than confident in something to do with their writing. I think I see the term fraud syndrome floating around cyber-space quite a bit these days. Ten years ago, when I signed my first contract, we just tended to hide in the shower in tears lamenting how unworthy we were, utterly alone. Now here we are banding together and facing our fears and insecurities together. I’m on board for there is strength in numbers!

The prompt this month is right up my alley: personal or family traditions/customs I may have share in stories.

I love this! Another weekly writing challenge I participate in touched on a similar subject this week by asking what character I had found who reminded me of myself. As with the traditions and customs, I tend to put a lot of myself into my characters. While I’ve not really found a character written by another author who reminds me of myself, I tend to lend my traits to my characters. So many times, they’re a direct reflection of me. I mean, I am who I know best. As I explained in that post, I am married to a Marine who served the empire faithfully for thirty years. He’s recently retired and we’re slowly adjusted to “civilian life.” However, just because we no longer live aboard base or are bound in shackles to the deployment rotations, I still draw much of my inspiration for my writing from my experiences as a wife and military community, the Marine Corps community most especially. So, when I saw the words traditions and customs? My gravy! I’ve so got this.

The biggest social event of the year for Marines and their significant others is of course the Marine Corps Ball which is the big birthday bash. The official birthday is on November 10. However, balls are held all throughout the month of November as there are so many of them and never enough venues to accommodate them all at once. I’ve been to small, intimate gatherings, and I’ve been to gargantuan affairs. This tradition has made its way into more than one of my stories and/or books. Most notably, I depicted this party on steroids in my first ever published work The Executive Officer’s Wife. That work in its original form is no longer in circulation, but I have re-titled it Restitution and included it in a boxed set of two prequel novels to the new series I’m working on.

I have to admit, though, that I had uncertainties including this gala in my works. My first reservation is always that I might not get it right. It’s such a special night and so elegant, and putting the pageantry into words and have it flow seamlessly is a near impossibility. I always fear I won’t capture all the intricate details. And, I always fear I’ll go overboard with all the intricate details. Which brings me to this. The fear I might overload my readers with an information dump by being entirely too descriptive. It’s a fine line with this size of event and trying to condense the highlights into a few interesting paragraphs that won’t overwhelm or seem like a Marine Corps manual. In the end, I had my in-house expert, AKA MarshFox, read it over and give me some pointers. In fact, I ask for his advice on all things Marine Corps quite often to ensure I’m showing my readers what life is like in that world with authenticity.

Other Marine Corps traditions, customs, and ceremonies I’ve used in my works include promotions, change of command, mess night, and traditional Marine Corps weddings. I love being able to carry on this part of our lives in such a way as to share it with my readers. And relive it a bit myself.

Thank you again for stopping by! I’m happy to embark on this new writing challenge adventure with the IWSG. You can find the list of participants and information on how to sign up HERE.

27 thoughts on “Don’t Be Afraid of the Details #IWSG

  1. You got me thinking. I try very very hard not to put myself into any of my characters, but really how you not? You’re writing from the heart. I do try to put some redeeming qualities in my antagonists. Welcome to IWSG, Dixie. Love your accent!

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  2. Welcome to the IWSG! Such an interesting post!

    I think there’s a fine line with details. As a reader, I don’t like too many or I end up skimming. So, as a writer, I end up not putting a lot in at all then find myself having to go back and flesh out at least some stuff. 🙂

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    1. Thank you for the warm welcome, Madeline, and thanks for stopping in today. I agree, there is such a fine line. I once likened intimate scenes in romance to salt. Not enough and the dish is bland; too much and it’s ruined. I think the descriptive details are much the same.

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  3. aandj8804

    Great point about adding too much detail and overwhelming the reader or losing sight of your story. I think if something like the ball is the basis for the story, then I’m not sure too many details are an issue. But in other cases where the ball plays a small role in the story, it’d be easy to get caught up in the details.

    Enjoyed reading your post! Thanks for sharing!

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  4. helenmatheyhornbooks

    Not only do you have a whole background of Marine history/culture to draw on you also probably have overseas (and Stateside) communities to write from with first hand knowledge. 🙂 My husband and I started our first book together using USMC Air Station Iwakuni, Japan as an opening backdrop. The book has a some ‘tongue-in-cheek’ humor and having lived there we felt we could poke some fun at the Japanese and the Marines for ‘how things are done’.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We have lived several places stateside over the years and were stationed in Okinawa for three years. I love working in places and local customs into my work. I love that you used Iwakuni as a backdrop! I worked for Bank of America when we were stationed in Okinawa sorting statements. I remember seeing Iwakuni several times a day. 🙂 Thank you for stopping by, Helen!

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  5. Welcome, Dixie!! We love having you here! Military and law enforcement are areas we always tread lightly in fearing we’ll make some mistake. But are errors in the role of a data entry specialist any less egregious? We do our homework even when we write what we know and cross our fingers the reader will be so lost in our world they won’t trip over the cracks!!

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    1. I agree! I still ask my husband a ton of questions trying to make sure I get it right. I simply love the research part of writing. Thank you for the warm welcome, Nancy! It’s great to be a part of this group.

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  6. You make an interesting point–how much of what we know should we put into our stories. The desire to share those details can be quite powerful, so learning how to thread the essential ones into the plot is a challenge! Great post.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Lee Lowery

    Welcome to IWSG! This is an amazing, supportive group of writers.

    I love that you’ve incorporated the traditions of the USMC in your work. What a wonderful way to get the humanity of our dedicated troops into the public arena.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi, Lee! Thank you so much for the warm welcome. Everyone has been so generous is making me feel a part of things today. Here’s a little secret. Not only is writing about the USMC part and parcel of writing what I know, it was therapeutic for me during the long deployments. I could spill a lot of things on paper that I might not actually talk to anyone else about. Thanks for coming by!

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  8. I’m one who tends to skip or skim lengthy descriptions in books, and would just as soon choose not to describe almost anything when writing. I try to go for a middle ground when writing, though, and write more description than I might prefer to read, because I think the average reader prefers more than I do.

    Having any area of expertise to include in your writing (even while still doing extra work to make sure it’s accurate) is definitely handy. Mine is definitely not quite as broad as yours (blacksmithing).

    Welcome to IWSG!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Good morning, Alex! Thanks for stopping by and for the warm welcome. I’m glad to have found this wonderful community. As long as I’m around and writing, I’ll be plugging away for our men and women in uniform. 🙂

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  9. Welcome to the IWSG! I had about the same answer as you- how can I not add myself to a story?

    I’m a skimmer, unless it is something that interests me. And military men are fascinating (though don’t tell my husband I said that, but hey, he has his Victoria Secret obsession, I get men in uniform. Right?) Years ago, I wrote a story that I never got published that had the Marine Corps Ball in it. I didn’t go into much detail. The plan was to fill in the gaps by researching when I was done, but I never did the revisions. It was my first work- full of head hops, passive voice and the like. Maybe one day I will and I’ll bug your for some details. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Elizabeth! Thanks so much for visiting me and anytime you’d like to chat anything Marine Corps, I’d be happy to do so. 🙂 Anything I’m unsure about I can ask my in-house research assistant, AKA hubby. 🙂

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