December 15th, 2011

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Go Ahead — Write This Story: Significant details

I learned this lesson from Maureen F. McHugh: The devil is in the significant detail. A specific fact in the right place, a sensory depiction, a small item that shows what's important to the characters — these significant details can create a character or a world. Significant details work the opposite of a cliche. They're unexpected and feel authoritatively true to the reader. Here are a few story ideas for you. Give them significant details.

● This is a story about a researcher who introduces false information into a medical diagnosis database to create a new disease so her vaccine will sell faster.

● This is a comedy set on a very small asteroid where a telepathic poker hustler wins several sentient cats.

● This is a story about a detective who poses as an android to break up a blackmail scheme and discovers a bigger crime involving counterfeit androids.

— Sue Burke

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