The Importance of Detail

One of my favorite shows in the last decade was PRISON BREAK. If you never heard of it, here's the blurb from

Due to a political conspiracy an innocent man is sent to death row and his only hope is his brother who makes it his mission to deliberately get himself sent to the same prison in order to break the both of them out from the inside out.

Each episode ended in such a way that you had to tune in for the next episode. All characters were fleshed out, including the most deplorable character introduced. And the planning behind the prison break? It totally proves how important detail is.


In Season 1, everything rides upon the plan Michael put in place prior to his incarceration. Michael laid out the entire escape plan on his body, all the way down to how he and his brother will make it out of the country. At one point, part of Michael’s tattoo gets damaged. This jeopardizes the escape.

This example illustrates detail and what happens when the detail goes away. Without detail, everything around us falls flat. The same goes for detail when we write. We need to keep detail in mind wherever we are in our writing process. Detail is what makes a setting vivid and a character more three-dimensional.

If I was to write a story about a chimp about Bubba, it might be awesome or mundane. As it stands, the Bubba-chimp story isn’t too exciting. We know nothing about what kind of story to expect. If Bubba the Chimp flies with mechanical wings, that is a totally different story. Just by adding that small detail, we get a better snapshot of the type of story and character we can expect.

If you haven’t seen Prison Break, it can be streamed through Amazon Instant Video and Netflix.

What shows have you seen that illustrate a fantastic use of detail?