Depends, I think.
I'm inclined to believe that you need to establish the general lay of things early on. Excessive detail can hurt you here, especially if this means crucial information gets front-loaded to the opening of the story. By and large a reader is an outsider looking for an idea of place and characters. When you first bring them into the story they need at least an idea of the who and where, and probably some hint of conflict. No matter if this isn't the protagonist, the primary setting, or the major conflict - your reader just needs something they can latch onto until they've gotten their bearings.
In essence: your opening needs a character in a place with a problem. Broad strokes will suffice here. You can shade in the details later.
I'll throw out an opening to one of mine that may or may not get used for the end product.
As in a dream he chased a girl through a shifting night-world, between the dappling leaves of summer oaks and sagged lines of a fence laid half-over until at last the field ended and broken sandstone ridge sloped sharp down to winding creekbed. He stood considering the chipped surface of the water, breathing hard with the blood hammering in his ears. Fresh tracks crossed the sandbar.
Upstream a flash of movement. The looping blur of pale legs and white running shoes.
A gap in the brush marked a deer trail down the slope and he went, sinking into loose sand to his ankles and stumbling as gravity carried him to the gravel bank. Somewhere in the rush he missed a step and rolled flailing to the water’s edge. Righting himself, he waited and let the night talk. The bushes on the opposite band were stilled now, no telltale crash from the upper bank or swaying branches by way of sign. Downstream, the soft chuckle of sluggish water negotiating a bend in the creek. Somewhere high and left a night bird sang curt and shrill.
Do we have a character? We have two. The relationship is unclear save one pursuing the other. We can gather that he has both a familiarity with the terrain and an instinct that may or may not be predatory. We don't know much about her yet.
Do we have place? We know it's nighttime in a field in the summer. There's a creek in there, too, and fences in disrepair that suggest a we're someplace that's rural but not wild.
Problem? Not strictly. What we do have is a pursuit which gives us a degree of tension, which should tide us over until the larger conflict comes along.
If we excise any of the three, the product falls apart. We have a guy in the boondocks at night, or we have a confusing chase scene without a setting, or a we have a guy and a girl apart in the woods in the dark.
What is omitted is the place (North Texas, ca. 1987) the relationship between the two characters (they've been dating for a year or so) or why they're out playing tag in the woods at night (they're teenagers being spontaneous and probably dumb, he's leaving soon for a job that offers him a better future than he could get locally, that she can't go with him, and they wanted to make the last evening together memorable but there's nothing to do in town). All this is important for the larger story and unnecessary at the introduction.
If the opening is successful it buys me time to explain the complexities that form a backdrop for the larger narrative. If not, and I lose readers here...such is life.
Fodder for a thread unto itself, I imagine.
I have appreciation for the ability to write what I call “logistics” well. Basically the mechanics of the environment and make it easy to picture and the decisions of the characters make quick easy sense. Thank you for sharing your writing!
I will share a clip of one of mine in return. The plot required me to do more description than my usual stories have and it did take extra work from me, where I think logistics might be easier for some people to describe.
I should have asked it this way from the get-go, but I will ask you this question this way: Does it help to orient you more when there is description of place? Does it anchor you a bit? It sounds like it, maybe?
I think I do want to make another thread on my bonus question as that might be more orienting for people too. Let me fetch that clip and edit...
This was my response to a writer’s prompt about a cave, but this is probably the most logistics I’ve ever written (which isn’t much) and I am well-acquainted with climbing in red sandstone canyons, but it still was a thought for me. Probably the description and/or logistics would not have been as tough for someone else: I’m still not at all sure if they are effective. Let me know if you’d like to. Actually you can kind of see what is more usual for my writing as the story progresses more into her thought process. The crystal cave would always need a description. Do you need a description of Elony? Would that help orient or picture? Or can you easily conjure what she looks like for yourself? What is preferred? Also... it’s easy to read on my phone but I’m not sure if the copy/paste won’t look ridiculous on my computer...grumble grumble...
Elony strained her eyes for the white fur of her goat in contrast to the red cliffs and dull green cedar and juniper trees. She was covered in sweat and dust, and was a bit breathless after a climb down. She had followed the goat's trail for hours, afraid that she would return home empty-handed. Now the goat's bleating echoed off of the standstone. It sounded like the little thing should be right where Elony was standing. Elony was sure that her eyes were playing tricks on her with the hot sun rebounding from the rock and surely she would suddenly spy the goat in plain sight. Perhaps the poor thing had broken its leg. The goat grew quiet for a second. A bramble scratched Elony's arms when she brought her hands to her mouth to call her goatherd call. Yibideebeedeebeedoo! The little thing answered plaintively, the sound seemed to surround her, almost as if coming from inside of her. Had it fallen where she simply could not see? Elony grabbed ceder roots from a tree above her and found footing to get a better vantage point, and all of a sudden she was falling, not really understanding why except that what had seemed solid footing had crumbled, she was sliding down sandstone along with some sand she had dislodged. The fall was fast, her feet could not do much to slow her in those seconds. She slid about 30 feet with her backpack against the wind-swept rock at an angle only barely better than vertical. Elony stiffly stood up, thankfully not really hurt other than bruises and scrapes. She was in a sort of small ravine, a slot canyon. There was no flat ground, just a V where two cliffsides met, each side under one of her feet with a jagged crack between. There, almost under her was the poor little goat, it's leg broken indeed. Sand strewn across its fur. She reached down to pet it, it let out another echoing cry.
Elony looked around her. She knew she could push her back against a side of the cliff and "walk" up a bit, Elony did so to get on top of a boulder where she could look outside of the gully. What she saw next astounded her. She sat on the boulder, looking down, there it was... a crystal cave. A 17 foot azure crystal spike decorated the opening like a bizarrely big tooth, the other "teeth" being roughly 5 to 8 feet, green and pink. Sometimes on the same "tooth", gold, clear, and amethyst intermingled.. Small and large crystals glistened back towards the "throat" of the cave.
It seemed like a whole different world to Elony, she could look around her to the left and right and see the usual red rock, or she could look ahead and down into that gaping sparkling mouth. Elony longed to walk inside, but then realized her feet would get shredded to bits. "Just wait until I show Ashu!" she thought in delight! But then.... she realized an even deeper need. "It would be better", she thought, "infinitely better, if no one knew about this cave except for me". Elony wasn't sure why she thought so, she had shared everything her entire short life with everyone in her village, but the thought struck her as deeply necessary. "No one must know!", she thought in a sort of ecstasy," And when my body is ready to die, I die here, I walk here, I will fall here, my face likely cut by the beautiful crystals." Elony wasn't sure why she thought such a thing. It frightened her. The strength of the desire also frightened her. “But it must be exactly so,” Elony thought.
Actually I think you can see what is more my style and more important to me as the story goes on getting to her thought process. I’m still not sure if I described the logistics effectively. Also why can I only type down here? Sheesh...