I hear variations on this theme all the time from readers. Titrating fact and fantasy can give a story a mysterious energy. Writers fetch up those details that sate the senses, allowing us to touch and taste, hear and feel how things were once upon a time. A woman steps out in Gilded Age New York City. Would she wear muslin or silk, petticoats or a hoop of whale baleen? Short kid gloves or long satin ones? How deep is her decolletage? All the particulars, please!
If you asked me to name my favorite movie scene, I'd choose the one in Citizen Kane when newspaper owner Charles Foster Kane steals his rivals' best reporters, then throws a party in his own honor. As musicians literally sing his praises, we watch Kane dance with chorus girls wearing a look of radiant delight. It's a moment bursting with promise and cockiness and joie de vivre, made all the more exuberant because Kane's pleasure is so obviously shared by Welles himself.
There are the summer days where we bake cobbler and pie, and grill up slabs of eggplant and bushels of corn. And then there are the tropically hot summer days where the thought of turning on an oven — or even an outdoor barbecue — is enough to make you want to flop your sweaty self across the bed (or, better yet, into a pool of cold water). On those dog days, you don't want your food warm from the grill — you want it dripping with cold.