One of the cardinal rules of storytelling is: make it specific. Any time you use stories, specificity helps to translate ideas, which live on an abstract level, to the concrete.
So don’t be afraid to get real specific in your stories.
The trick though is not just using specifics to set a scene, describe a character, or illustrate an action. Good writers understand how to use the telling detail.
Telling details are those details that tell us more than just what’s on the surface.
Here are two examples of telling details.
"…the mother shrouded in a filthy ski jacket and tattered pants, draped over her child's closed casket."
The detail, Marion Roach Smith explains in her book about writing from life, relays the mother's grief, "stitched into the details about the jacket." (The word choice "shrouded" also echoes the death shroud, which further reinforces the point. )
Here's another example from The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood, where she introduces the character Nick:
"He's wearing the uniform . . . but his cap is titled at a jaunty angle and his sleeves are rolled to the elbow, showing his forearms, tanned but with a stipple of dark hairs. He has a cigarette stuck in the corner of his mouth, which shows that he too has something he can trade on the black market."
The details - and the narrator's observation of the cigarette and what it means - hints that Nick may be predisposed to breaking the rules in this rigid society.
Don't worry too much about trying to find the telling detail in your first draft: often these become clearer as you get an understanding of your story's themes. But it's important to be aware of them. Next time you're reading a good book, look for examples of the telling details and see how they add to the story.