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Concrete and Abstract Words - Creative Writing Tips

Concrete and Abstract Words - Creative Writing Tips

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Published by July Lumantas
Creative Writing Tips
Creative Writing Tips

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Published by: July Lumantas on Jul 09, 2014
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5
 Creative Writing Tip Concrete & Abstract Word Choices
 How to Improve Writing Skills with the Best Mix
 Start with a Theme or Idea
Abstract words deal with thoughts, feelings or qualities: for example,
 freedom, equality, love, anger, danger, wisdom, power, beauty
. These words convey broad general concepts and are good for setting out your main idea(s). However, because they leave only a vague impression, readers may find it hard to get a grip on your meaning. You therefore need to flesh them out with concrete words.
Balance Abstract and Concrete Words to Give a Clearer Picture
Concrete words are those that appeal to our five senses of sight, hearing, touch, taste and smell: for example,
rainbow, eagle, thunder, silk, cream, coffee
. Concrete words can evoke powerful images. Let's look at how John Keats sets out his main idea with an abstract word (
 fruitfulness
) and builds on it with concrete words:
Season of mists and mellow
 fruitfulness
 , Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun; Conspiring with him how to load and bless With
 fruit 
 the vines that round the thatch-eaves run; To
bend with apples
 the moss'd cottage-trees,  And
 fill all fruit with ripeness to the core
 ; To
swell the gourd, and plump the hazel shells
 With a
sweet kernel
 ; to set
budding 
 more,  And still more, later flowers for the bees, Until they think warm days will never cease; For Summer has
o'erbrimm'd 
 their
clammy cells
.
 (From
Ode to Autumn
 by John Keats)
Concrete and Abstract Word Variations: the Ladder of Abstraction
In writing, the ladder of abstraction refers to the way words are arranged in ascending levels, each level getting progressively more abstract. The higher you go up the ladder, therefore, the more abstract and general the words; conversely, the lower the level, the more concrete and specific they become. For example, at level one (the lowest) we would find the most specific words like
Labrador  puppy, chocolate chip cookies
 and
Harley Davidson motorbike
. One rung above this, the words would still be concrete but less specific:
 puppy, cookies, motorbike
; the next level would perhaps contain words like
 pet, food, vehicle
.
Replace Abstract Words with Concrete Words
Most often writing fails to capture the reader's attention because it contains too many abstract words; the writing becomes bland and vague.

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