Monday, 19 November 2012

Writing Exercise: Abstract to Concrete

Concreteness leads to specificity; in writing, concreteness usually means representation of sensory inputs.

Here is an exercise in concreteness.  Take an abstract sentence and increase its concreteness word by word. Do this in several stages, so that the next sentence is more concrete than the first.

1. The structure had negative qualities.

2. The building was inadequate.

3. The house was too small.

4. The bungalow had too few rooms.

5. The white bungalow had only four rooms.

6. The white square house next door had four rooms--a kitchen, a bathroom, a sitting room and a bedroom; the basement was a dugout for the furnace and a small storage room. Six people shared these rooms.

7. The Callaghans lived in a dingy white one-level house next to the abandoned gas station at the end of our block. The house had four small square rooms--a kitchen, a bathroom, a sitting room and a bedroom; the basement was a mere dugout for the furnace and a small storage room. Mr. and Mrs. Callaghan slept in the bedroom with the two youngest children, while my friend Peter shared the flowery-print sofa bed in the sitting room with his older brother Matthew. Peter claimed that everyone except himself and his little sisters snored; even the Alsatian and the tabby, who slept at the foot of his and his brother's bed, snored.


Concreteness leads to more words and to more personality.

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