Module: The Writing Craft
Time: 20 minutes

In a nutshell: What is significant detail?

Significant detail is a written detail that causes an emotional reaction in the reader. The point of this tool is to show the audience why they should feel something, rather than just tell them. Significant details are specific, rather than general, and personal, rather than superficial.

Examples

Without significant detail: We founded our business in 1895 and have been serving our neighbourhood ever since. 

With significant detail: The front door – worn and creaky from well over a century in business – continues opening for our locals every day. 

Rather than just telling the reader the business is old, the second sentence implements a significant detail – ie, the wear of the front door – to show it. This doesn’t just work for describing concrete details, though. It can be used to illustrate brand values, case studies and customer profiles, too.

In 20 minutes, you’ll be able to identify these significant details in the context of your business.

Workshop goal: You are able to identify and choose details that create an emotional response in the reader (ie, your customers).

Steps

  1. What four things do you like most about your business? Write down four words. 2 mins
  2. Why? How do they make you feel? 6 mins
  3. Write down one specific example of how your business demonstrates each word. 10 mins
  4. Pick one example from 3 and combine it with your corresponding word/feeling. 2 mins

This is a specific detail about your business that shows the reader something about it, rather than just tells. The chance of them feeling something as a result of this increases considerably. That means a bigger chance of them engaging with your business, and potentially becoming a loyal customer.