Valley Bookseller hosting editor’s book signing
Restoring order: Breakdown vs. break down

Use concrete details to make writing more vivid

When writing 3022 descriptions, make them concrete. That is, make them tangible by appealing to the five senses of sight, smell, sound, taste and touch.

For example, the sentence The street was mysterious is abstract rather than concrete. It’ exposition and uses passive voice. It’s bland.

You could instead write A thick fog shrouded the street, diminishing the lights to mere auras that seemingly hung suspended in the air. By giving concrete details that appeal to the sense of sight, this sentence infers mystery.

Concrete details work better than an abstraction because they:
• Draw readers emotionally into the scene – Abstract words are vague, and when using them you always risk readers bringing their own imagined concrete details to the story.
• Show point of view character’s emotional mood – Abstract words usually are too general; there are many degrees of happiness and anger, for example. Concrete details, however, better delineate the degree to which a character feels an emotion.

Look back at passages you’ve written, especially those that you consider flat or vanilla. Circle the abstract words. Now rewrite the passage by providing concrete details that show the abstraction. After the rewrite, you’ll find that the passage reads much better.

Need an editor? Having your book, business document or academic paper proofread or edited before submitting it can prove invaluable. In an economic climate where you face heavy competition, your writing needs a second eye to give you the edge. Whether you come from a big city like Raleigh, North Carolina, or a small town like Strong, Maine, I can provide that second eye.


Verify your Comment

Previewing your Comment

This is only a preview. Your comment has not yet been posted.

Your comment could not be posted. Error type:
Your comment has been saved. Comments are moderated and will not appear until approved by the author. Post another comment

The letters and numbers you entered did not match the image. Please try again.

As a final step before posting your comment, enter the letters and numbers you see in the image below. This prevents automated programs from posting comments.

Having trouble reading this image? View an alternate.


Post a comment

Comments are moderated, and will not appear until the author has approved them.

Your Information

(Name is required. Email address will not be displayed with the comment.)