From General to Specific, Concrete to Abstract

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From General to Specific, Concrete to Abstract
“Don’t say the old lady screamed. Bring her on and let her scream.” – Mark Twain
Definition
Examples
Concrete/Specific
Words and Images
Suggest/name
something we can taste,
touch, see, smell, or
hear
Examples:
trout, French bread,
daffodils, silk
General/Abstract
Words and Images
Identify classes,
qualities, and ideas
Examples:
Fish, nutrition,
vegetarian, clothing,
flowers, bread
Use/Non Use
Used to share
perception of a person
or event in a sensory,
specific way so reader
can actually experience
in the imagination the
named quality
In non use, fails to
stretch the senses and
fails to recreate the real
experience
How do you bring the old lady on and let her scream, then?
Creating Images Using Concrete Language – Showing versus Telling

To show the reader by creating an image through specific, sensory related words
stimulates the imagination and the emotional center of our brains. EXCITING!!! 

To tell the reader in general terms is merely informative and works with the rational
mind. BORING!!!! 
Telling:
1. Is vague

Example: I hurt my finger.
2. Communicates an idea of concept.

Showing:
1. Is specific
Example: Downtown traffic was heavy.

Example:
2. Demonstrates an idea or concept.

Example:
Example of Showing: There was no chance of working well at home. First I dropped my pencil and it skittered
across the tile floor. I was down on my knees looking for it under the refrigerator when my brother skipped in
whistling a two-note song he had invented. He watched me, first on one foot, then on the other. He began sucking
through the gap in his front teeth, which sounded like garbage water sucked down an open drain.
a. The woman was frugal.
b. It was hot out.
c. Willa has beautiful hair. It smells nice and feels wonderful.
d. I dropped my pencil and it made an interesting sound as it hit the floor.
e. My little brother came in making lots of ugly noises.
f.
The sunset was pretty.
g. Some people came into class.
h. She fed us well.
i.
He dresses funny.
j.
I just love nature and the woods.
k. Roberto looked terrible after the fight.
l.
The door sounded awful.
m. The mirror didn’t work.
n. She did a bad job on the haircut.
o. The old woman screamed.
p. The clown was scary.
q. My porch is a nice place to go.
MODELS OF CONCRETE VERSUS ABSTRACT
Identify GENERAL/ABSTRACT terms IN ONE COLOR versus CONCRETE,
SPECIFIC TERMS IN ANOTHER COLOR.
a. My father is a great guy. The whole family looks up to him and admires him. Ever since I was old
enough to walk, I think I wanted to be just like him and I still find myself imitating him all of the time.
b. The rain fell periodically on my window. Soundless. Each blurred streak look grayed and warped. I
could hear my dog Harper sleeping in the kitchen. He snores when he sleeps and bubbles ooze between
his lips. The rain had begun to melt the old rusted snow in the gutters.
c. Cans. Pop cans. Glinting on the verges of a million miles of roadways, lying in scrub, grass, dirt,
leaves, sand, mud, but never hidden. Mountain Dew, Orange Crush, Pepsi, Diet Coke, shining in the sun
or picked by the moon or the beams of headlights at night; washed by rain or flattened by wheels, but
never dulled, never buried, never destroyed. – Mayra Mannes
d. The influence of custom is indeed such that to conquer it will require the utmost efforts of fortitude and
virtue, nor can I think any man more worthy of veneration and renown, than those who have burst the
shackles of habitual vice. – Samuel Johnson
e. At sunset you sometimes make bread or roast a chicken in a camp oven on the little islet with
twenty eager helpers shrieking, exclaiming, running to throw the rotten eggs in the sea or fetch
firewood for a dying fire. – Margaret Mead
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