God is in the details
Jane Kurtz (who is white) was raised in Ethiopia and has written many books about it. One reason those books come alive is through the unexpected but just right details, she said.
She is an excellent speaker and spoke extemporaneously while clicking through a visually rich slide presentation.
She described being an outsider in Ethiopia and how that gave her a keen eye and helped her develop her observation skills. It's tougher to see what's interesting in our own familiar locations, she said.
Jane also warned us not to let details overwhelm the story and to make sure that details are revealing what the author intends. Readers infer like crazy, she said.
For finding the right details, she suggested using your own memory, observation, and research.
Find the right details contributes to voice. I think this is one of the most compelling reasons to seek out the right details. Voice is so often what elevates a manuscript above the mundane.