I have completed the Being CONCRETE section in Step 4 of the Kerrigan method of Writing to the Point. This is part of my project to study and learn the entire Six-Step method. For a recap, here are Steps 1 through 4.
STEP 1. Write a short, simple declarative sentence that makes one statement. (Chapter 1, page 6)
STEP 2. Write three sentences about the sentence in Step 1—clearly and directly about the whole of that sentence, not just something in it. (Chapter 2, page 18.)
STEP 3. Write four or five sentences about each of the three sentences in Step 2—clearly and directly about the whole of the Step 2 sentence, not just something in it. (Chapter 3, page 31.)
STEP 4. Make the material in the four or five sentences of Step 3 as specific and concrete as possible. Go into detail. Use examples. Don’t ask, “What will I say next?” Instead, say some more about what you have just said. Your goal is to say a lot about a little, not a little about a lot.
The second part in Step 4 focuses on being “CONCRETE”
B. BEING CONCRETE:
Use words that are not abstract; that can be seen, touched, smelled, tasted, felt, weighed, measured, lifted, dropped, moved, etc.
Examples: child, chair, pencil are concrete; freedom, justice, bravery are not
Given an abstract word, write the name of a concrete person or thing you can associate with it. Here are a few examples, with the abstract word highlighted.
- compassion / Mother Teresa
- democracy / voting machine
- peace / sleeping baby
Next, given a concrete thing, write an abstract word you can associate with it. Here are a few examples, with the concrete word highlighted.
- a whip / pain
- schoolbooks / learning
- vitamin capsules / health (or hypochondria!)
THE BENEFITS OF BEING CONCRETE
Using concrete terms helps to make writing more clear and more interesting. Think of a politician who uses abstract terms such as, “We’ll direct all our considerable resources to satisfying the needs of our constituents” instead of, “I’ll spend $10 million of your taxes on a new highway that will help my biggest campaign contributor.” The latter, using concrete words, is definitely clearer, adding transparency and more “interest” to the message. Don’t you wish more politicians used the Kerrigan method?
Previous posts in this series:
The Kerrigan method of ‘Writing to the Point’
Step 3 of the Kerrigan method of ‘Writing to the Point’
Step 4 of the Kerrigan method of ‘Writing to the Point’ – being SPECIFIC