A comment from Jim Murdoch on the last post got me to thinking about the telling detail. What is a telling detail? One thing that pulls the reader into the experience of the story, one thing that creates the emotional connections to the writing.
An example is in Stephen King's Pet Semetary where a father, ever so gently, wipes the grave mold from his dead child's cheek. Intense. Unforgettable. Does a reader stop reading at this point? No way.
The grave mold growing on the child's cheek is a telling detail. It can be any specific detail. It can be a sight, sound, touch, taste or smell. It can be a specific thought or action. One thing that has tremendous meaning, almost a shorthand connection.