We have greebles in fiction, too. These are superficially similar to "telling details", but in fact serve almost an inverse function.
A telling detail is a small but very significant element that unpacks fractally into information and assumptions about a character, setting and/or plot. For example, in William Gibson's Neuromancer the reader realizes that Molly's mirrorshades are surgically implanted, and begins to sense the manifold implications of a technology and a culture where that's a reasonable choice.
Greebles are the sorts of things that make a piece of fiction crunchy, textured and interesting, serving as a sort of matte painting behind the foreground action. Vide Gibson, the nearly obsessive use of consumer branding, both realworld and fictional, in Neuromancer. They lend dimensionality to a text, provide incidental verisimilitude, and can both engage and distance us depending on auctorial choice and reader experience, but they aren't directly engaged in advancing the story.
I keep learning about writing fiction from reading art blogs, but I think Gurney Journey is my favorite.
And as always in these matters, your mileage may vary.
|Originally published at jlake.com.|