I thought you might like some gilded Art Nouveau flowers to brighten up this interminably long shortest month. I am so through with February. I’m desperate for some mad March wind to blast the grey away and shake the gold from the daffodils.

In the meantime, here are my gaudy blooms, found above a shop front in Nancy, France. I’m intrigued by the composite nature of the image, hundreds of tiny tiles that would be decorative but meaningless on their own, fitting together to make a picture. I like the way the artist has put contrasting colours together to create an impression of depth and texture. It’s interesting that the composition is framed in gold and then again in blue and white, and yet the petals break through the frame rebelliously, softening and subverting.

What my flowers teach us about writing fiction is to do with the accumulation of detail. They show how a picture full of depth and resonance can be fashioned from hundreds of tiny details, which looked at individually have little to tell us, but viewed as part of a larger whole can be extraordinarily revealing.

See how you can apply this to your own work: it can be helpful in building a character or describing a scene. Jot down as many individual observations as you can – more than you need – and start assembling them, being conscious of the effect of comparison and contrast. Move them around until you’re happy with the overall effect and then stand back and take a look – you might be surprised at what you see.